July 30, 2021 Seether- Wasteland – The Purgatory EP (EP Review)
Since the beginning, Seether has made their bones on doing things others wouldn’t. Their innovation and creativity over the years has helped them establish themselves as chart toppers with hit after hit, despite wavering confidence from critics over the development of their sound. Now, following up their last full-length album, 2020’s Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, the men of Seether are back at it less than a year later with Wasteland – The Purgatory EP.
Released on Friday, July 30 via Fantasy Records, this EP contains the original single “Wasteland” and an alternate stripped down version, as well as three never-before-heard tracks. This collection is the result of a collaborative production effort between Guitarist Corey Lowery and Singer Shaun Morgan. Together with Drummer John Humphrey and Bassist Dale Stewart, Morgan and Lowery have developed a collection that both OG Seether fans will appreciate while melding new ones into the fold.
Title-track “Wasteland” has a dystopian yet entrancing mood that sweeps up the listener from the beginning. There is something sweeping and effervescent about this song. The orchestral composition and use of sustained notes adds to the ambiance of the entire track. It stirs the gut and kicks up a mix of feelings from a sense of whimsy to relatable angst and sadness.
If there’s one thing that Shaun Morgan has mastered, it’s the art of expressing self-loathing and regret. As a man with a complicated past, Morgan’s is often expressive of remorse and contrition for the missteps in his history. If music is therapy, “What Would You Do?” is a breakthrough session. Here Morgan laments about a past full of mistakes and expresses a desire to “cleanse” himself of these errors. It paints a portrait of a man in conflict with his vices and addiction seeking clarity and redemption whilst feeling overwhelmed at the prospect. It’s evolution from a soft, acoustic lamentation into the distorted guitars and grittier vocals is symbolic of the conflict in the main character of the song, assuming it’s not Morgan himself.
“Will It Ever End” will be familiar to Seether fans, as it employs the same somber distortions and discordant effects that the band has come to be known for in recent years. It winds into a bit heavier riffage in the bridge before reverting back to its casual, relaxed pace in the chorus. Lyrically, we find Morgan looking for an end to the purgatorial torment of consistently “paying for my past crimes.” Here the metaphor is in full effect with the cyclical nature of the concept of Purgatory and the ouroboros nature of its torment.
As we near the end, “Feast or Famine” offers up a bit more crunch than its predecessors. Kicking things off with a chord progression that gives Velvet Revolver “Slither” energy, everyone knows it’s not about what chords you use, but how you use them and Seether works them pretty well. Easily the heaviest outright track on the EP, with its heavier guitars and punchier vocals, Seether is serving up some “kill or be killed” vibes here with Morgan’s screams into the literal void at the end of the track.
Closing things out is “Wasteland (Alternate Version)” which is honestly nearly the exact same as the original except stripped down. So, for all the lovers of acoustic covers, this one’s for you. The softness that is added when you strip away the effects and distortion on the guitars does make it feel cozier in a sense. While not for everyone, there is something to be said about acoustic versions, just the simple act of removing the production from a song creates a sense of intimacy that is sometimes missing from highly produced tracks.
Overall, Wasteland – The Purgatory EP is another example of Seether giving fans more of what they love and have come to rely on from the South African rockers. While some may criticize the lack of “heft” on this EP, it very much serves its intended purpose- to follow up the last album. If Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum was the main course, then Wasteland – The Purgatory EP is the after dinner mint. Its overall composition employs sweeping stringwork and with a strong supportive low end and percussion that makes the whole thing palatable, but not overwhelming and just enough to carry listeners over until they tour. So, for effectively filling the gap and delivering more signature sound with an interesting concept, Cryptic Rock gives Wasteland – The Purgatory EP 3.5 out of 5 stars.