Review Summary: The album’s title is all too honest.
At this point in their career, Seether is an interesting band to attempt to evaluate. They seem to be entrenched in our good graces as one of the more respectable radio-rock acts out there, producing past hits such as ‘Fine Again’, ‘Fake It’, ‘Rise Above This’, and ‘Careless Whisper.’ Their brand of melodic rock is catchy and always just heavy
enough to make us not feel like complete pussies for listening to them. The formula is tried and proven by some of Seether’s most esteemed colleagues: Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, Hinder, Daughtry, and Three Days Grace. Well, when you are in that
kind of company, you can’t really fault them for not seeing the error of their ways.
Still, for as generic and clichéd as the entire radio-rock genre has become, Seether has managed to more or less dodge the criticism bullet (they still get their fair share, but they don’t take the shot to the head that Nickelback does). Maybe it is the aggressive undertones, the slightly
more varied musical technique, or just the sheer fact that some bands are so
poor that they corner the market in terms of negative attention – but the point is, Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
is the album that sees Seether finally caving in, collapsing over top of what small resistance separated them from the other classless behemoths currently dominating the billboards. If Seether was ever original enough in the first place to “sell out” with Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces
, then Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
sees the band completely and utterly whoring themselves out.
‘Fur Cue’ kicks the album off by relying on ridiculous clichés in order to sound heavy, shouting out every couple of words that rhyme: FAKE!! You’re more than I can take, and something’s gonna BREAK!!
– along with distorted but extremely basic electric guitar riffs in the background. Unfortunately, it is already
all downhill from here. ‘No Resolution’ is a less catchy but just as gimmicky version of the opener, while ‘Pass Slowly’ is another failed attempt at a power ballad as rich as ‘Fine Again.’ Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, the second half of the album shows a significant drop-off in quality. Consisting of what essentially boils down to five filler tracks, very little material of significance is offered to the listener. ‘Roses’ passes by blandly, with a predictable chord progression and awful rhyming within the chorus (they literally rhyme “me” with “me” six times). ‘Down’ and ‘Desire for Need’ are equally as inconsequential, as the band members play their instruments, run through the same old hackneyed song structures, and, as a whole, chill out and do nothing impressive whatsoever.
‘Forsaken’ ensures that the listener will leave the experience offended, as Seether once again stoops to the level of the “closing ballad.” As you might have expected, the song is slow but gradually increasing in intensity, with vague lyrics about unrequited love and a chorus that tries way too hard to sound inspiring. If you are breathing a heavy sigh just reading this, you might want to save yourself the trouble and avoid this altogether – because Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
is an album that rarely (if ever) offers anything resembling experimentation. Even the hit single ‘Country Song’ falls flat, suffering from an identity crisis that sees Seether try (and fail miserably) to blend twangy country with their trademark hard rock. The whole thing ends up sounding disjointed, as if the band members wanted to keep pace with country music’s contemporary success a la Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘Dear God’ or Nickelback’s ‘This Afternoon’, but realized how awful it sounded and hurriedly tried to mush it together with a standard filler track. It isn’t pretty, but if any track on here deserves some credit, ‘Country Song’ just might be different enough to divert attention away from the train wreck that is Seether’s fifth LP.
Seether is a band that is out of ideas. Disclaimer
and Disclaimer II
were unique enough to warrant respect, and while Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces
wasn’t exactly a beacon of innovation, it was still catchy enough to remain lodged in our brains for the entire year of its release. Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray
, unfortunately, fails to follow in the footsteps of any of its predecessor’s best traits. It is not unique, it is not catchy, and it never really gives the listener a reason to spin the album more than once. Like the title suggests, maybe Seether is grasping for something that isn’t there anymore. At one point this band served a purpose, but much like a human appendix, no one is quite sure what that is anymore (maybe a certain generation’s gateway to hard rock?), and Seether is one string that nowadays – you guessed it - may be better left to fray