Sound — 7
Seether formed in 1999 in South Africa, taking their band name from a song by the band, Veruca Salt, and modeling their sound largely off of the early '90s grunge bands. Seether pretty much got a lot of attention worldwide as soon as they started releasing albums, and they've kept 'em coming in the meantime. "Isolate and Medicate" is the band's sixth full-length studio release. The Deluxe Edition of the album contains 14 tracks and clocks in at approximately 55 minutes. The track "Words as Weapons" was released as the lead single from the album on May 1st, though the band did make several clips/teasers of other songs available online leading up to the album release.
The album opens up with the track "See You at the Bottom," which immediately is absolutely riff-centric and harking back to Seether's earlier sound. "Same Damn Life" has a very "punk" vibe going on with it in the beginning, but builds more into familiar post-grunge territory, but with a twist of pop. The lead single, "Words as Weapons," opens with just some haunting vocals, then drums and chanting come in with the rest of the instruments building up, but the track makes a lot of use of quiet/loud dynamics. "My Disaster" starts out with a riff that reminds me a little bit of the Deftones for whatever reason, but by the time the vocals come in Seether has put their own stamp on it. "Crash" is much more like their last album, "Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray," and that does make it stand out from the rest of the album a little bit. "Suffer It All" is back with heavy grunge-style guitar rhythms and using screaming and clean vocals and odd vocal cadence to create an interesting track. "Watch Me Drown" is another song that does a lot of capitalizing on quiet/loud dynamics - it works well for this track. "Nobody Praying for Me" stands out because of the use of effects on the guitar signal during the clean verses, and then the choruses uses moderate dirt. "Keep the Dogs at Bay" is more of the same - some simple yet effective guitar riffs, and using dynamics creatively within the song. "Save the Day" opens up with an acoustic guitar and is a melancholy ballad - I found myself enjoying this track for some reason - it definitely isn't the type of track I'd normally be into. "Turn Around" has an interesting little riff in the intro and manages to create a creepy vibe with an infectious bass groove. "Burn the World" opens with a very 007-ish riff that uses some slight dissonance - it definitely gives this track some individual character - this is essentially a breakup song but at least it is angry instead of mopey. "Goodbye Tonight" was recorded with the Van Coke Kartel as guests. I don't have a problem with the song, but it doesn't really do anything exceptional, either. Honestly, it sounds more like they were collaborating with the Alabama Shakes than with Van Coke Kartel. "Weak" closes out the deluxe edition of the album, and it was originally included on the compilation album: "Seether: 2002-2013." The album as a whole was pretty good. The problems I had with it were mainly in the mixing. At times it seems like the percussion was not mixed well, and there is an ongoing problem with the way Seether albums have the lead guitar mixed in too low. I don't think the lead should be overpowering, but you shouldn't have to lean in and think "is that a melody guitar part I'm hearing?," either.
Lyrics — 7
Shaun Morgan isn't an exceptional vocalist, but he's competent and, at times, passionate, which works really well for the genres he sings in. The backing vocals provided by the rest of the band help to add enough variety to keep it interesting. I wasn't impressed by Shaun's vocals on their previous release, "Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray," but I felt like they were much better on this release. The dynamics in pitch and volume are used to good effect on the vocals. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the lead single, "Words as Weapons": "All I really want is something beautiful to say/ Keep me locked up in your broken mind/ I keep searching, never been able/ to find a light behind your dead eyes/ not anything at all/ you keep living in your own lie/ ever deceitful and ever unfaithful/ keep me guessing, keep me terrified/ take everything from my world/ say 'can you help me?' right before the fall/ take what you can and leave me to the wolves/ keep me dump, keep me paralyzed/ why try swimming, I'm drowning in fable/ you're not that saint that you externalize/ you're nothing at all." The lyrics aren't bad.
Overall Impression — 8
You have to give them credit, Seether has found an interesting balance of "heaviness" (at least in the realm of post-grunge heaviness) and "catchiness," which makes their albums supremely radio ready. This will absolutely be a successful album because of this, but even with a full-fledged BS detector turned up to full power you have to admit the album is pretty decent in the context of what it is. A lot of the album seems to come from the same place that "Remedy" came from, creatively. My favorite tracks from the album are probably "Suffer It All," "See You at the Bottom," and "Turn Around." I'm glad they released this album, because even though their last album, "Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray," was very successful it definitely was not one of my favorite Seether albums, and had partially sent me in the direction of giving up on them as a fan, but this album won me back over.