Monday, June 20, 2011

Seether - Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray

Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray
Wind-Up Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

In what is undoubtedly the longest gap between releases, South African based post-grunge/alternative act Seether have returned from their lengthy four year absence from the studio with their fifth studio album ‘Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray’ – their long awaited follow-up to 2007’s ‘Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces’.
As has been the case in the past, there’s been a lot of talk from the band (Comprising of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Shaun Morgan, lead guitarist Troy McLawhorn (Who parted ways with the group prior to the album’s release), bassist/backing vocalist Dale Stewart and drummer John Humphrey) about how much their sound and direction has altered from where they last left things off. While there’s an element of truth in some of their statements, there’s also a sense of familiarity about their sound from album to album that can’t be overlooked as anything but a progression. But with Seether’s latest effort, it would appear that things have changed a bit from four years ago.
The opening track ‘Fur Cue’ gets the album off to a heavy start, with Brendan O’Brien’s production giving the band an aggression that wasn’t quite so evident on their last couple of releases. Despite some clunky lyrical lines, ‘Fur Cue’ provides a rock solid start to proceedings, and the kind of track that will please fans who prefer the band’s earlier and heavier sound.
‘No Resolution’, while a little scattered, is another catchy effort that carries through the heaviness of the opener, while the album’s first single/promotional video clip ‘Country Song’ is a noteworthy and successful mix of both country and alternative metal, and by far one of the album’s catchier and more instantly gratifying tracks.
Other songs that veer towards the heavier side of Seether’s earlier days can be found in ‘Master Of Disaster’, the moody ‘Fade Out’, the guitar overdrive of ‘Down’ and the slower paced ‘Desire For Need’.
But while Seether’s latest release has plenty of heavier anthems that cater to older fans, the band doesn’t completely forsake the sound of their more recent releases, with ‘Here And Now’ and the driving ‘Tonight’ standing out as potential future singles from the album with the emphasis placed more on providing catchy choruses rather than heavy handed guitar sounds, while ‘Pass Slowly’ and the piano led ‘Forsaken’ fill out the obligatory ballad component of the album.
While the changes heard on ‘Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray’ compared to the band’s former releases isn’t too radical or different (A meatier production, Morgan’s greater use of clean vocals over growls and some extra bells and whistles in the background of some of the songs), Seether’s latest album is at least a far more consistent and enjoyable effort as a whole.
Seether fans will no doubt enjoy ‘Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray’ for what it is, and may even find this album the band’s best since ‘Disclaimer’ (2002). Others however may find the album just a little too much of the same thing, released under a different name.

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© Justin Donnelly