I think most people would have agreed that Seether did a good amount of evolving with their 2011 album Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray. Whether or not people liked the change, it’s undeniable that band leader Shaun Morgan felt it was time to make the change. The band has already been rightfully typecast as a band that feels more comfortable writing gloomy and angry post-grunge songs, with a few songs like Rise Above This that feature a bit of surprising optimism, but in 2011 Seether took the first step in trying to step away from this typecasted corner they painted themselves in.
Now with their newest 2014 release Isolate and Medicate the band furthers the evolution that they’ve always been building up to. Sure, its opening track See You At The Bottom sounds much like your typical Seether song; very heavy, relatively slow paced with angry and pessimistic lyrics, albeit it still ranks among the elite of Seether’s similarly written songs.
However, the second track Same Damn Life is far from anything I’d ever expected from Seether. There have been some songs in the bands catalogue where the music has had a bit of a jumpy feel to it, like one that you may even be able to dance to, such as 2007’s Fake It, but Same Damn Life one ups it. The lyrics are still on the less-than-happy side of things, but the music sounds like the happiest the band has ever been, making for a strange contradiction while in the end creating what I believe is one of the songs the band has ever recorded and released.
The leading single from the album Words As Weapons is a pretty solid choice, with string sections and well melodised verses, and a balls to the wall chorus make for a dramatic display of song writing that both old and new Seether fans should love. Suffer It All does a similar job, while being all around heavier. Actually, it’s sort of the other way around from Words As Weapons in that the verses are heavy and the pre-chorus and chorus are not as heavy but just as intense. The harmonized vocals in this song are something else unexpected on a Seether album with Shaun Morgan’s vocals not being harsh but practically countertenor. He displays that at a few moments on the album, such as the previously mentioned Same Damn Life (which adds to that songs value) and on My Disaster, which for all intents and purposes is your average slow and sludgy Seether song just with this added harmony section that spontaneously comes at the end of each verse. Those parts of My Disaster remind me of Queen…well I mean if Seether were to attempt Queen.
Seether has always been good at making slower songs, and Crash goes right up there with the best of them. The song is the perfect mixture of soft verses and strong choruses, again making for another dramatic display of song writing. It’s another song that has lyrics that can be interpreted as negative, but the music doesn’t necessarily give off a negative vibe, making for another sample to add in the evolution of Seether.
Watch Me Drown, Nobody Praying For Me and Keep The Dogs At Bay are pretty standard Seether songs. No better or no worse than many of their previous songs. They may have some of their differences from past songs, for instance Watch Me Drown has piano that can be heard playing, and it may be a bit on the happy side. But all three are all a little angry in some way, a little negative in most ways, but what is important is that they rock. These songs should please long time Seether fans.
Seether has had a way of ending albums with slow dark ballads, and doing it well. Going back to their first two albums Disclaimer and Disclaimer II, both albums end with different renditions of their classic ballad (and my favourite song from the band) Broken. 2005’s Karma & Effect ended with Plastic Man – which to me always sounded like the band trying to unsuccessfully redo Broken – and then there’s 2007’s Waste and 2011’s Forsaken. Each song is a little heavier than its predecessor. For Isolate and Medicate, the band decided to end with another ballad, Save Today, and opted not to up the heaviness this time around (frankly, Forsaken wasn’t even really a ballad). Save Today, is the least depressing of all of Seether’s album closers. Very unlike Seether to end their albums on a rather positive note, but that just shows how the band has further evolved.
While I still think Holding Onto Strings Left To Fray is a better album, it is undeniable that the strides Seether took in changing their sound for that album continue on to Isolate and Medicate. It’s clear that there are still demons hanging around their heads, but Seether is now doing something about it rather than succumbing to it. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out you can only write so many angry depressing songs before they all start to sound the same, and the band chose the perfect time to evolve if I do say so myself.
“Suffer It All” – I could have just picked Words as Weapons, because I mentioned how I think that was a very good choice for a leading single for the album. However I much prefer Suffer It All and I feel it does the same job for listeners as Words as Weapons does. It shows the bands heavy side with their somewhat experimental side (even more so than Words as Weapons) making for the perfect song for both old and new Seether fans to listen to and love.
8.5 (Out of 10)
|“See You at the Bottom”||3:38|
|“Same Damn Life”||3:20|
|“Words as Weapons”||4:01|
|“Suffer It All”||3:55|
|“Watch Me Drown”||3:09|
|“Nobody Praying for Me”||3:18|
|“Keep the Dogs at Bay”||4:25|