SEETHER – Isolate and Medicate

seether isolate and medicate album review

Seether’s new album “Isolate and Medicate” is a great listen and a journey.  The album takes us from the depths to the heights and back down again.  I’m glad I got this assignment  because I thought Seether was a pretty decent band with which to make my music critic debut.  But better than that, I have discovered that I REALLY like Seether.  With more than 100 years of recorded music to try to fit into your life it is really difficult to find time to listen to full albums of artists’ expressions of triumph and failure, love and hate, dreams and fears, but every once in awhile life throws you an opportunity that you are certain was designed to help you grow.  So, let me say a big “Thanks!” to David Rader from Midwest Music Scene for the chance to put into words my love for the medium of recorded music.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences while taking in this beautiful art form that touches all of our lives every day.  And thank you to Seether for performing and recording an album that will touch my life, as well as the lives of millions.  What a responsibility art is, and what a rush!

“See You At The Bottom” is a seething rocker, and the perfect cut to open the album.  The driving rhythms, front man Shaun Morgan’s passionately furious vocals, and the traditional “Seether-sound” harmonies that we have become accustomed to hearing from the band are all on display in “See You At The Bottom”.  The song moves from a moody and mysterious opening guitar riff to the driving force of the rhythm section as it brings in the dark and urgent beat.  The verses speak to a person (or institution) that has inflicted a lot of pain, and is in need of some serious emotional karmic payback.  Morgan’s vocal delivery is always emotionally-charged and compelling, from the hurt and regret, to the anger and desire to see spiritual justice served.  Soaringly painful during the chorus, this song sets the tone for an album about the struggle to maintain some peace and love in a world that no longer seems to value those truths.

My second favorite track on the album, “Same Damn Life”, starts with a gritty guitar riff reminiscent of a famous ‘50’s girl group’s big single  and eventually rips into a 21st century version of the classic break-up song.  Morgan’s economic use of falsetto in the song may be an homage to the era, or he may just be brilliant, because the song has been stuck in my head ever since I got the chance to hear it.  And there’s a musical break near the end of the song.  I’m a sucker for a musical break before the outro.  Well played Seether, well played.

Batting in the power-position is the album’s first single, “Words As Weapons”.  A topic of discussion that is sorely missing from our society at this, the most crucial of all times in human history, is our almost blind acceptance of the societal manipulation that we suffer from those who “keep me dumb, keep me paralyzed”, as revealed by Morgan in this fantastic track.  We are now told what words we can and cannot say.  Words are no longer a method of discourse to help us better understand each other.  Words are now the weapons in our world of litigation and legislation, social engineering, and population control.  Certain words are now illegal.  And along with the words, the thoughts themselves are now quickly becoming illegal.  Governments around the world are “indefinitely detaining” people whose thoughts do not meet the new “accepted” paradigm.  And we have been conditioned to accept the belief that our thoughts can be made illegal.  Orwell would be horrified that the nightmare he hoped would never come true has materialized in exactly the manner he described.  It seems Morgan is clearly aware of this violation of the sanctity of a person’s thoughts and speaks for us as the voice of defiance against those who might believe they have the right to control and manipulate the minds of their fellows.  “Every day I reveal the cracks” says Morgan, as he speaks to the controller who is not the saint that he appears to be.  Morgan sees the man behind the mask and he announces that he has no fear of that man.  This is brave thinking in the 21st century.  Art is at its best when it is also social commentary, and though this first single from the album is definitely radio-friendly, it is also smart, timely, and ultimately important if it makes even a few people consider the true state of the world around them and that they have the power to stand up for what is right.

The next two tracks, “My Disaster” and “Crash”, are the cuts that most represent what I consider to be the “Seether sound”.  Dale Stewart’s bass line, John Humphrey’s driving percussion, and Morgan’s vocals and guitar weave the same hypnotic spell that has made them a staple of Alt-Rock stations across the country.

My favorite cut on the album is “Suffer It All”.  The juxtaposition of the staccato rhythms and screams of the verses and the smooth natural chord progressions of the chorus will burn this song into your mind.  Again, Morgan seems to be speaking to the confusion and deception of the world that we live in today.  “Show me how to question all I know inside me,” asks Morgan of this new world, full of those who Morgan “can’t believe everything you perceive as what’s rightfully coming your way.”  He lets us know that he is aware that a big change has taken place in our world and he asks “are you ready to suffer it all?” as we continue our free-fall down the rabbit-hole.  It’s a powerful insight into the world that we find ourselves in today.

The album closes with the mournful yet hopeful “Save Today”, a song about loss and the longing that follows.  The song portrays the raw emotions of loss and the regret of wrong choices yet manages to leave the listener with hope for a better day, today and tomorrow.  The rising guitar runs and the inspirational lyrics lift this song to the level of anthem.  I can definitely see this as the closing song for a Seether concert.  It leaves you with a sense of hope for a brighter day and a better world “on the other side” regardless of the pain you may have suffered.

In an interview with Loudwire posted on Seether.com, the band confirms that they feel a sense of cohesion after 11 years together even though they didn’t grow up together and come from different countries (U.S. and South Africa).  This cohesion is evident in the structure of their 6th studio album, Isolate and Medicate.  The line-up of the songs takes you through the peaks and valleys of emotion and energy, asking us important social questions along the way.  The album is a perfect example of the experiential loss that takes place in today’s online purchasing culture, where we may only purchase a single track from an album.  This album needs to be heard from beginning to end.  Each track builds on the emotional experience of the last, with increasing positivity of outlook and energy, and a resolution to “stand up” even though “everybody loves to see a fall unfold” as detailed in the song “Nobody Praying For Me”.  Inspirational words for sure.  Awareness, honesty, and social justice are evidently not just lofty concepts according to Seether, but are required tools that we must employ as humans if we are to keep the dogs of repression at bay.    by Rob Crupper