Album Review: Seether – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum 9.1 (Hard Rock)

Written by Mass

  • Artist: Seether
  • Album: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum 
  • Genre: Hard Rock – Alternative Metal – Alternative Rock
  • Release Date: 28 August 2020
  • Country: South Africa – USA
  • Highlights: Drift Away – Failure – Dead and Done – Dangerous
  • Rating: 9.1

Who Are You to Let Me Bleed?

Can it be a coincidence that one of your favorite bands in your teens (the one that you have persistently loved ever since) releases an album on your birthday or is it a gift from the universe, which has kept you in the dumps for quite a long while, only to show that you are still there and that you are not entirely hapless and hopeless? 

Well, I don’t know. Whichever case was true, I was elated to see Seether’s new release first thing I woke up in the morning and gave it a long, good listen. Thirteen tracks and a runtime of more than 50 minutes (51’34”)! Well that must be either heck of a lofty alternative album or a slapdash mishmash of find-whatever-you-can-add-it-to-the-mix. I knew that Seether is incapable of doing the latter, so the former it was, certainly. 

The sonic spectrum of this album ranges from 1990’s grunge and alternative rock and 2000’s alternative metal and yet maintains to reflect Seether’s trademark sound and it is easily recognizable as these originally South African rockers. Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum delivers an overall sound which reconciles the soft and the edgy, the aggressive and the feely, the mad and the forlorn, keeping the fine balance between these elements to create what can be considered a highlight of the band’s prolific career. 

Unlike many other albums in the genre, Seether’s eighth release is not pure alternative anger though it is manifest in several tracks such as the opening track (Dead and Done) or Can’t Go Wrong and, maybe above all, Beg. The punkish Bruised and Bloodied falls somewhere in the middle of this end too. The more emotionally-profuse half, on the other hand, includes Failure, Written in Stone or even Wasteland, though they each may have a touch of rage here and there, be it a scream or a heavy guitar bridge. What shines brightest on this album, however, a track which propelled itself to the list of my favorite Seethers, is Drift Away. This song not only is musically rich, being epitome of said balance and reconciliation, but also connects to me on a personal level, specifically owing to its strong, stirring and emotive lyrics. 

Speaking of lyrics, I thoroughly relished the art of lyricism for most parts of this release. Shaun Morgan’s awareness of style, in music as well as words (both in meter and rhyme), paired with his brilliant writing skill have led to having am album in which even words contribute significantly to the present sound and ambience. They lend as much to the meaning, imagery and motifs as they do to acoustics and phonology. Alliterations, similes and metaphors, hyperbole, and juxtaposition among other literary devices have made checking out the lyrics a certainly worthwhile thing to consider. Example of the song-writing art can be the second verse of Pride Before the Fall or both verse sections of Can’t Go Wrong. The only defect I could pinpoint was the fact that some tracks, such as Beg, had unsuitably short lyrics. 

What accentuates and glosses the lyrics, rather than just acting as a foil to or even worse, overshadowing them, is Morgan’s singing prowess. He does not simply sing the words; he vocalizes every one of them with such an effective charge that the listener gets moved by his emotional force, be it his strong angsty screams and edgy bellows, likes of which can be found on Dead And Done or Beg, or his more affectionate, melodious clear sections, something which can be found on Written In Stone or Liar. Most of all, I guess the singing on Dangerous captures and reflects this essence best; it is a flavorsome combination of words of the lyrics and Morgan’s singing aptitude. 

As for the music, the first aspect that draws the listener’s attention is the fact that song structures do not follow the same old verse, (pre-)chorus, verse, chorus, chorus pattern but instead utilizes more diverse ones to break the monotony and this has been one factor making this 13-piece album pleasing to the ears, adding pre- or post-choruses, bridges, and outros wherever they found fit. In sounds, too, we can find a certain dynamic approach. In particular, the guitar work of Morgan himself and his old companion and the new member of the band Corey Lowery (who Morgan identifies as the older brother he had always wanted), together with the hearty bass of Dale Stewart, which is omnipresent throughout the album, have added the element of range of sound this album needed. But this all, by no means, signify that John Humphrey has fallen behind his fellow musicians; he successfully sets the pace and character of the album through the use of his sticks. 

Alt metal may be a domain in music people start with and then outgrow into other heavier genres, but acts like Seether can prove the detractors and shamers wrong, in fact, very wrong as Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum is surely a highlight of my year. In all aspects, musicianship, vocal delivery, the art of lyricism and the artwork (oh, I forgot to say I also love the artwork, it’s pretty neat), this album has much to offer. That was a fantastic birthday gift I had not been expecting! 

Rating: 

  • Lyrics: 9.0
  • Artwork: 9.0
  • Musicianship: 8.5
  • Vocals: 10
  • Overall: 9.1

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