Seether – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum (Album Review)

Whether they are Saron Gas or deciding to Poison the Parish, the men of Seether have a history of bringing killer skills to the table every time they are up to bat.

Originating from Pretoria, Gauteng in South Africa, Seether has been delivering unforgettable Rock to the masses since 1999. With an eclectic mix that combines Grunge and Alternative, the band distinguishes itself from their contemporaries with their technical aptitude and the signature vocals of frontman Shaun Morgan. Despite some changeover in the lineup over the years, the guys seem to have settled into formation in their current incarnation consisting of Shaun Morgan (rhythm guitar/ lead vocals), Corey Lowery (backing vocals/guitar), Dale Stewart (backing vocals/bass), and John Humphrey (drums). Following their 2017 release Poison the Parish, Seether is back to bless 2020 with the music to fuel the revolution in the form of their eighth studio album, Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, which John Wick fans and dead language lovers will recognize as Latin for “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

For the discerning listener seeking an homage to the Seether of old, “Dead and Done” will be a welcome invitation to Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum with its prominent percussion from Humphrey and layered riffs with Morgan’s trademark screams piercing the chorus. If you weren’t already awake when you put the record on, this will be your wake up call. “Bruised and Bloodied” is next and it has all the hallmarks of a Seether classic- it’s upbeat, bouncy, and resonates with the technical orchestration for which the band has come to be known. Despite its seeming simplicity, a careful ear can catch the layers of composition at play here. 

The echoic and intentionally hollow sound of “Wasteland” is an enfolding experience that rolls through like a breeze in Fall- it’s cool, encompassing, and a bit unnerving. There is something beautiful and unsettling about the track that is comforting and concerning, but effortless. The first single released off the album, “Dangerous,” lives up to its namesake. This is a hunter’s song. It is predatory, dark, and disturbing in the way it creeps up on you in its chugging chords and progression. The bridge is an escalation in this unsettling vibe that makes you feel like you’re being preyed upon or watched as you listen to it.

Changing things up and adding to the eclectic energy of the album is “Can’t Go Wrong” with its pummeling chorus and intense gut-punch string work. There are several dynamics at work here that keep it entertaining to the ear without getting confusing or convoluted. Where some bands may struggle with balancing the intriguing gutturals and dark layers of the sound with the light, Seether navigates this landscape skillfully with a balance between “Can’t Go Wrong” and “Buried In The Sand.” The latter of the two is another exploration into the “softer side” with its lofty chords, atmospherics orchestration, and heady ambiance that lifts the listeners and glides them smoothly throughout the song. It’s both feather-light and evocative in its execution, thus demonstrating the more emotionally poignant capabilities of the band.

 “Beg” is vicious, crunchy, and unrelenting. It’s immediately followed by the calm serenity of “Drift Away” creating a powerful juxtaposition between the mood and intent of the two songs. The sense of longing and the visceral impact of distance being created between two people is heavy in “Drift Away.” The ambiance and the ethereal wisp of the chorus create a vacuum of emotion the listener gets sucked into and absorbs the weight of the dissolution of this relationship between the singer and the subject. You become one with the moment at hand and it’s easy to get swept up in the singing strings Morgan and Lowery as they resonate through your chest alongside the lyrical journey. In “Pride Before the Fall” there is a bounce and rhythm in the verses that will remind old school fans of “Remedy,” but the bridge Morgan rips open with a primal scream that disrupts the previously easy-going vibe of the chorus that runs right into it. 

Winding things to a close is “Written In Stone” with its commentary on the immutability of life, the behavior of society, and the way it can wear on the soul. In a hard-won case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” this sober tune closes out Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum on a reflective note. For a band that has made their name on carving new grounds in Alternative Rock and Metal, if there’s one thing Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum proves is that they are relentless in their pursuits and ever vigilant in their execution. Despite the progress and journey of Poison the Parish, there is an evolution here that is evident in even the simplest creative choices from track-to-track. The solemnity and intention with which Seether has crafted Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum is a testament to not only their work ethic as musicians but their growth and expanded awareness of the human condition. So, for development and execution, Cryptic Rock gives Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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