Sound — 7
Back when MTV's Unplugged set the stage for some of the most memorable stage shows, namely both Nirvana and Alice In Chain's haunting performances, going acoustic could provide a new and novel way of hearing the songs you already loved electric. Not to say that magic is not possible with today's bands, but it's definitely harder to come by.
Seether's CD and bonus DVD, One Cold Night, is the latest addition to the acoustic genre, featuring a February 22, 2006, performance at The Grape Street Club In Philadelphia. For the band's hardcore fans it will likely be an enjoyable addition to their CD collection, with all the expected hits included in the set list. But when you break the concert down, there is not a lot of difference between Seether's original recordings and the new live unplugged versions. The band does a capable job of performing and there's an excellent mix on the audio, but there should be a bit more reason to put out a concert recording than to prove you can sound a lot like the records you've put out before.
The first track on the CD, Gasoline, does have a driving groove that makes for an infectious opener. Vocalist Shaun Morgan displays his characteristic raw emotion and is backed by solid instrumental backup from bassist Dale Stewart, drummer John Humphrey, and former guitarist Pat Callahan. But that being said, it almost sounds a bit too much like the original version heard on Disclaimer. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the rest of the CD follows this same trend and not much new is heard throughout the record.
One Cold Night could have been an excellent opportunity to go beyond what you're already expecting out of Seether's hits by adding in extra harmonies, perhaps an extended acoustic guitar solo or two. There are moments of beauty, like in the introduction of Fine Again, when an intricate guitar solo takes the song in a new and refreshing direction. But most of the songs don't stray far from the arrangement of the originals and it would have been a great avenue to tweak a song like Remedy by making it a dreamy ballad.
Lyrics — 7
If there is one area that Seether excels in, it is melancholia. There is plenty of underlying angst in the band's songs, and there is definitely an audience for that. While One Cold Night is more focused on the acoustic performance aspects of the music, Shaun Morgan's chilling delivery does give believability to some of the bands heartbreaking songs. In Diseased Morgan sings, I will never belong to you; Push if you still need my pain; Cause I will never tell; And scream if you still hate my name; Cause I'll be where I fell. The words are not necessarily groundbreaking statements, but the lyrics actually bolster the concert when the arrangements don't make a huge impression.
Plenty of people might hear Seether's lyrics and think that band is way too absorbed in somber themes. In a song like The Gift, Morgan expresses his self-doubt in each line. In the chorus Morgan sings, I can't face myself when I wake up; And look inside a mirror; I'm so ashamed of that thing; I suppose I'll let it go. The darker lyrics are either going to jive with you or they won't. In this case, they really worked to the band's advantage in an environment that was described as intimate.
Overall Impression — 7
As live albums go, the latest Seether offering does not make a big enough impression. Even in watching the bonus DVD that comes with the One Cold Night CD, it fails to be that memorable. You are able to watch the entire acoustic performance as it is heard on the CD, but the visual images of the concert still doesn't pack the punch that's needed. To the band's credit, fans can watch a bonus interview, a video for The Gift, and some behind-the-scenes extras -- additions that most live CDs don't usually include.
If you're looking for just another setting in which to hear your favorite Seether songs, then this latest CD will likely be worth the buy. If you're hoping that the band is able to resurrect the same type of chilling moments that Kurt Cobain created in his 1994 Unplugged performance, you may be in store for a letdown. Those kinds of acoustic moments may never happen again, but it's always nice when you're given goose bumps at least a few times in a live performance. Seether has the talent to come through, so let's hope their future live CDs will be heavy on the goose bump factor.