‘Poison the Parish’ album review
By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor
After almost two steady decades of making music, Seether’s newest album Poison the Parish (2017) proves that grunge is still infectiously alive.
Poison the Parish, released this May, is the seventh studio album from the South African band and the follow-up to 2014’s Isolate and Medicate. Seether’s sound has matured while retaining their compelling intensity. They even manage to sound heavier and darker than some of the material off their last few albums. Poison the Parish is full of awesomely-dark driving riffs, and vocalist Shaun Morgan’s voice still sounds phenomenal, though some of the songs do feel a little less fresh.
The album opens forcefully with the angsty single “Stoke the Fire,” bringing a depth of mood that sets the tone for the album. Lyrics like “Taking and taking from the rich and the restless” are full of passion, and Morgan’s scream of “Who’s gonna stoke the fire?” is a definite highlight.
Track four, “I’ll Survive,” is probably my favourite off the album. It’s one of Seether’s more positive tunes, reminiscent of their previous album’s “Save Today” (which happens to be my favourite from that album as well). “I’ll Survive” rings strongly with a message of resilience in the face of adversity, a message Seether has always been able to convey with conviction, especially given their advocacy for suicide prevention.
“Let You Down,” the lead single off Poison the Parish, is another heavy hitter, bolstered by its pre-chorus that shows off Morgan’s impressive vocal range. The driving guitar riffs throughout also lend the song a certain radio-ready quality—the single’s managed to top the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart for several weeks—without sounding at all bland.
Even with radio success, Seether’s never been afraid to express their darker emotions, and Poison the Parish is full of satisfyingly unadulterated venom. It comes out clearly in tracks like “Saviours,” with lines as cathartically spiteful as “And I hope you wither out / Fuck you, you’re a poor imitation” and “You worship yourselves / You’re all just bigots and liars.” The third single, “Nothing Left,” has a similarly dark and driving pulse, as well as a chorus containing another demonstration of Morgan’s spine-chilling screams.
The slightly slower-paced track “Emotionless” manages to convey its titular sentiment effectively and is one of the album’s most compelling songs. The verses have a haunting and forcefully-hollow quality, although the chorus sounds somewhat less powerful in their lyrics and harmonies.
The regular edition of Poison the Parish has 12 tracks and the deluxe has 3 additional, though the only one of the bonus tracks that really stands out to me is the final song “Take A Minute.” The chorus is fairly unexceptional, but the song makes up for it with the melodic and lyrical strength of the bridge and outro, ending with the lines “Take a minute to destroy this all,” which I find to be a more evocative finale than the official last track of the non-deluxe edition.
Some of the songs off Poison the Parish did feel almost interchangeable, with somewhat repetitive riffs and harmonies, but as a whole the album consistently shines. It certainly succeeds in maintaining its dark, hefty tone throughout, proving that Seether’s still capable of returning to a harder, rawer sound. It might have been nice to hear at least one softer melody, since some of Seether’s earlier songs—most notably 2004’s “Broken”—prove Morgan’s capability at bringing just as much emotional depth to a ballad as to a growl. Nonetheless, Poison the Parish is as heavy and intense as anything you might want from Seether.