I’ll start by stating my lack of personal bias for or against the subjects in this week’s album review; Seether, as they release their sixth studio album, Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray. They’re a band I’ve been aware of for a long time, but I couldn’t call myself a fan or an authority on their older output. (I am gathering the verbal abuse and bottles thrown at me as I naively type). At any rate, it’s an opportunity to take this album at face value and offer an impartial view on one of the many rock bands that have been around so long critics are obliged to criticise any slight alteration to the angle of a nearby microphone.
Longstanding fans are obliged to snipe too, either because the sound no longer fulfils the requisite nostalgia, or because people innately just like to be awkward and start arguments on internet forums. A band with a record of radio play is known either to inevitably succumb to commercial pressures or at the very least seem to, and that’s all that in the end matters. I’ve typed similar thoughts before, but it’s alright, because I am also ‘on the internet’. So come get me. But the fact is Seether’s new album entered the UK rock chart last week at number 16, while Guns N Roses’ Appetite for Destruction sat two places below, having lurked in the vicinity now for 691 weeks previously. The rock world has a habit of clinging onto old gems, so the least I hope for from a new release is for it to be refreshing.
To begin with all I heard was…every non-excessively-emo band that was played on Kerrang! TV in the mid 2000’s…
After the first few songs played out from this record I was set to sit down and state the disappointment that bled out through the standard drudging, and I’d have to say I was still indifferent, but a few tracks further in and I began to quite enjoy it. To begin with all I heard was the grey and yellow tinged backdrop offered forth by a multitude of other bands, such as Hinder, APC, Stone Sour, Stained, even QOTSA. Basically every non-excessively-emo band that was played on Kerrang! TV in the mid 2000’s (when I last had access to the channel, but, again, I’m willing to bet the playlist hasn’t radically changed in the last few years). But as the album wore on, so some distinction grew.
The highlights for me were opening track Fur Cue, Fade Out, which showcases some particularly fine drumming, and Down, which has a playful, solid riff and is overall a track I’d be proud to jump around the living room to, in an empty house. The highlight from the four bonus tracks would be Dead Seeds, another bouncy rock song that made me realise how buoyed up I’d become since pressing play.
Pass Slowly is one of the soft, cuddly offerings, pretty insubstantial, but alright to cry along on a bed to whilst a camera pans down on the city outside and intersperses flashbacks of happier times – and a dog.
There are some soppy, slow ballad numbers, some darker, some heavier, some, of course, rock by numbers. No Resolution seems bipolar in its compromising alternation of soft follows hard, while Country Song can at least be commended for delivering on its title promise. Tonight wouldn’t seem out of place sung by old school Avril Lavigne on top of a car in traffic with eyes closed and fists clenched, while Pass Slowly is one of the soft, cuddly offerings, pretty insubstantial, but alright to cry along on a bed to whilst a camera pans down on the city outside and intersperses flashbacks of happier times – and a dog.
In the end, my opinion of ‘Holding onto Strings’ comes down to the conclusion I’d be happy to hear 80% of the songs on the radio. So that’s an endorsement. Someone tell the band.
Image courtesy of Seether