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Music Review Review: Seether – Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces

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I was mildly surprised to find that Seether were still on the go. After all, most of the other big rock, post-grunge bands have long gone the way of the dodo and the pig-footed bandicoot , with the honourable exception of Nickelback who seemed to have evolved some kind of immune system / defense shield that repels all comers.

But here come the South African metal band with their sixth-ish album (depends whether you count their debut as Saron Gas or, indeed, their rereleased debut), which crashed into the Billboard Charts at number 9, on the back of an infuriatingly catchy single, in the shape of "Fake It". Now the album gets a UK release, in advance of some Summer shows.

Now, casual passers by may need reminding as to who exactly Seether are, as they became better known for the tabloid exploits of main man Shaun Morgan, than they did for their music. Naturally, I'll repeat it all again! Their breakthrough hit was a re-recorded version of "Broken" from their debut Disclaimer which appeared on the soundtrack to the lamentable movie The Punisher. The new version turned the acoustic lament into a goth / grunge crossover with Amy Lee from Evanescence appearing on vocals. Morgan and Lee then embarked upon a romance which ended with the Seether man in rehab, Evanescence having a huge hit called "Call Me When You're Sober" and guitarist Pat Callahan leaving the band.

But that was then, and this is now. And now seems to involve the three piece Seether releasing the finest album of their career. "Fake It" is an obvious highlight, one designed for radio, with an irresistible melody and chorus. Follow up single "Rise Above This" seems primed to do likewise, twisting their sound into more of an adult contemporary rock noise.

However, it's when you move away from the commercial singles that you discover just how good Seether have become when you weren't looking. There are some tough riffs and angry vocals on the likes of "Like Suicide" and "Fallen", but it's on the immense "No Jesus Christ" that Seether hit their peak. A song that starts off away down there, slowly building and twisting its way to a climax over seven priceless minutes.

Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces is an angry album that rages hard from beginning to end, replete with hefty bouts of shouting and swearing, deserving of its Parental Advisory sticker. Morgan often sounds like a man possessed, and it can be quite uncomfortable listening to him exorcise his demons on some of the more coruscating tracks. Generally, it's a bleak and bitter album, with Morgan finding little of joy in his life.

Seether don't really break any new musical ground, although there are some unexpected sprinkles of psychedelia and inventive percussion from the excellent John Humphrey. But with only a couple of tracks ("FMLYHM" and "Eyes Of The Devil") failing to make the mark, it's an album that those pining for the lost days of Soundgarden or those wishing Nickelback would hit puberty will clutch to their hearts.

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About Stuart A Hamilton