Thursday, 20 November 2014

No.12: Post-Grunge Pat- Seething Seether

From the genre that brought us Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam comes another complicatedly titled yet vaguely similar sounding sub-genre: this is post-grunge.

Beards, long hair, grinding guitar and guttural vocals. Basically everything you need to form a fairly comprehensive post-grunge band. Only this is the somewhat well-to-do, white-collar son of its much more outspoken, alcoholic and facially hairy father: traditional grunge. While grunge would go out every night swathed in greasy t-shirts and aggressive attitudes to get wasted, post-grunge tends to limit this to weekends. With an eye on the mortgage, it keeps clean throughout the business week, channeling frustrations into squash and spinning class. The original word was actually coined in the mid 1980s by some bright spark of a journalist for NME who, in true onomatopoeic fashion "wrote what he heard".
     But it was not until at least a decade later when Nirvana in particular rose to popularity, that grunge really found its feet as a genre. Just as the aforementioned groups rapidly commercialized and effectively grew 'Grunge' as a genre in the mid 90s, it could be said that just as quickly it met a tragic and untimely demise along with Kurt Cobain on April the 5th, 1994. But the Rock and Roll Hall-Of-Famer had left a staggering legacy in his wake. A year after Cobain's death, a new genre had emerged with Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters paving the way for what is now one of the biggest musical movements of the late 1990s.
       This new and exciting style of music emulated the heavy distorted guitars, husky vocals and facial decoration from grunge but combined this with elements of other genres like alternative metal and hard rock. The product: a much more anthemic, radio-friendly sound which had great commercial success. Drawing much more adoration from the public, the bands brought the same attitude and political influences but with simpler rhythms and less notorious drug habits. The band names all have connotations of adolescent depression (Theory Of A Dead Man), dark things (Black Stone Cherry) dirty things (Puddle Of Mudd, Staind) and .... Shrubbery? (Bush).

And then there is Seether, which sounds vaguely sharp and at the same time uncontrollably angry but without explicitly saying either. Formed in Pretoria;1999, Seether are probably the only South African rock band I've ever heard of but nevertheless have all the elements to form a particularly convincing post grunge band. This includes a good set of beards which we now know are a vital asset to any aspiring musician in this genre.
     Their album Words As Weapons was released in June of this year (2014 for those of you without a calendar). The record, I think, encapsulates Seether in terms of their music and artistic concepts. There still features the well rounded yet on the whole accessibly gruff vocals of Shaun Morgan which dominate the songs over the instrumentals themselves. However it is missing the more delicate side (yes it is hard to believe that they have one) seen in earlier songs like Broken with the closest thing here being Save Today and Crash which almost predictably are some of the best in the album. The large quantity of more recognizably post-grunge songs in the middle of the album tend to fade into one long blur of medicated frustration. However, the album overall is held up by Same Damn Life and Words As Weapons which is undoubtedly the best track. I think these contain the perfect balance between attitude and radio-friendliness which is characteristic of the genre. However, for me, a simpler, stripped back, dare I say it emotional song is missing. Despite the fact that from the above picture, the trio resembles a group of hardened truck drivers crossed with pirates, perfectly willing to start swinging after a few beers, they have a gentler side. This would have been a significant improvement for me. Overall, some great individual songs but weak on the whole. This if anything reflects the genre: fantastic at its best but a few beers in it starts to get messy.

Note: This is part of a 2-part post-grunge review which will also cover Nickleback's No Fixed Address. And yes that two will have a hastily thought, obscure pun for a title as well.

To hear these songs, albums from the other posts and other music which I find, follow my blog on Spotify here: