Seether’s Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
is a more satisfying effort than the band’s last record, 2007’s Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces
. Though the South African group continue to follow the post-grunge
playbook with reverence, Holding Onto Strings
has enough memorable moments to overcome the disc’s air of familiarity.
Getting Over the Heartbreak
When Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces
came out, fans and reviewers picked over the record for clues into frontman Shaun Morgan’s personal traumas, including his breakup with Evanescence
singer Amy Lee. Holding Onto Strings
doesn’t have such obvious autobiographical moments, which perhaps explains why it’s a less schizophrenic, hair-trigger record. While Morgan’s angst still dominates his music, Holding Onto Strings
is a more melodic and less generic hard rock disc, offering more sonic textures than previous Seether works.
Comforting, Not Dangerous
Produced by Brendan O’Brien
, Holding Onto Strings
has moments, particularly on “No Resolution,” that recall O’Brien’s work with Stone Temple Pilots
, another band who never won many prizes for originality but had an undeniably accessible sound. Likewise, Seether make music that doesn’t really catch you off guard but, rather, plays into comforting post-grunge conventions, right down to Morgan’s fluctuation between vocals that are screamed and then sweetly sung. Even when they crank up the intensity for something like “Fur Cue,” there’s really no sense of danger in the music: It’s just about getting you to another wonderfully efficient hook.
While the Southern rock-influenced “Country Song” is the album’s first single and most sonically unique track, it’s actually one of the least interesting offerings on Holding Onto Strings, although it does have a pretty reliable pop chorus. Seether are better delivering slick mid-tempo numbers like “Tonight,” which seem readymade for sing-along audiences at packed stadiums. Similarly, “Fade Out” and “Down” show a little swagger while staying faithful to the hard rock template that has given birth to a million songs just like it. It seems like a backhanded compliment to keep praising Holding Onto Strings for its familiarity, and in some ways it is, but there’s something to be said for the uncomplicated presentation of these 12 tracks that sail by nice and easy.
A Frontman in Search of a Voice
But where the Morgan of Finding Beauty
at times sounded like he was being eaten away by self-doubt and resentment, here he’s a more predictable frontman, unable to find much new lyrically to say. Throughout Holding Onto Strings
, Morgan’s words are the least compelling element of the album: Even when he’s singing about seeking a fresh start on “No Resolution,” the surging guitars express more sentiment than his lyrics do. As a result, Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
is a more consistent and polished album than its predecessor, but it doesn’t have quite the same emotional peaks and valleys. Maybe next time Seether will combine passion and precision into one compelling whole.
'Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray' – Best Tracks:
“Fade Out” (Purchase/Download
“No Resolution” (Purchase/Download
“Fur Cue” (Purchase/Download
Release date – May 17, 2011
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publicist. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.