Thursday, February 16, 2017


Minotauro Records

Boston's innovative rock band Seth, initial birthed in the early seventies and as always lead by founder/chief songwriter (and unsung hero!) Gerald "Gerry" Stafford (vocals, guitars, keys, mandolin and programming), originally appeared on these pages last year. Having previously covered Seth's 2CD complete discography, "Apocrypha" (unexpectedly) showed up in my mail just the other day, saints be praised and all that jazz. All of which goes to show that good things come along when you least expect it. And by "good" I actually mean great, "Apocrypha" being the kind of release that deserves much praise and recognition! Of course I am getting ahead of things (a common problem in these parts). My apologies to you, our dear readers. How about if we rewind the tape and at least do the name game? Bassist Wayne Guffey and drummer Billy Lee Bedwell now serve as the back up to (the) near-brilliant Gerry Stafford. The very definition of a power trio, Seth performs like a well-oiled veteran rock band. One with passion and fire. One with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. Even with new players involved they remain untouchable. Unwrapping this disc was like anticipating the long return of a honored and well-respected loved one. With talent that simply cannot be matched by today's rock bands, Seth covers a lot of territory between point A and point B. Rockers and jams, metal moments and a touch or two of sensitivity. All of it is brought to life by perseverance. "Apocrypha" is Gerry Stafford's dream and it is his vision. We are just thankful to have been invited along for the journey. Let's "Relive the glory days!" and come on and "Kick out the jams you glorious sons of bitches!" the album says, even as it slows down for a number like "Love's Hollowed Ground". This smooth love song (genuinely) reminds me of yesteryear, growing up to the sweet notes that came from AM rock radio and easy listening channels. Only a band like Seth, one as creative/one so extremely-clever, could make a love song powerful enough to move mountains. And they do it all with words. That is only one number, one of seven in fact. There is so much more to admire about "Apocrypha". Opening up strong with the progressive heavy rock and roll of  "I’m No Saint" (a garage rock version of Rush perhaps?), Seth's new album picks right up where the band left off in the eighties. Along with Blue Öyster Cult (yes!) and the aforementioned Rush (who I can take or leave), Seth's ingenious sound combines (all of the best parts of) classic rock, proto-metal, doom, folk, hard rock, blues rock, vintage heavy metal, and (amazingly enough) that whole AOR/easy listening bit! With it's mashup of hard rock, doom, and progressive rock, "There And Now" recalls some of the all-time greats of the seventies' classic rock scene while simultaneously hinting at the group's flirtation with the (early) N.W.O.B.M. movement. The fuzzy hard rock cut "Semaj" does the exact same thing, with both numbers ("Samaji" and "There And Now") brilliantly bringing to mind the cool (if sadly overlooked) N.W.O.B.H.M. band, Hammerhead . Somewhat disconnected and occasional feeling as if it's two or more separate parts of a couple of different numbers that has been crammed tightly into one track, "Free World" is next and while I like the heavy back end of it and the trippy vocal effect, Seth could have smoothed out it's edges. Those small criticisms aside, "Free World" is just a small bump in the road and (at their "worst") Seth still maneuvers it's vehicle like no one else I know. Second to last number "The First 29 Years", played with passion and precision by this heartfelt trio, is a slick take on Led Zeppelin...if (and only if) the Led Zep fellas had understood the finer points (and overwhelming appeal) of American rock. With the instrumental jam "Quadragy" closing things out on a positive note, "Apocrypha" easily grades out as a A-/B+ recording and adds to the legacy of this cult Boston band!

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