Sound — 6
At first I was really disappointed with this album, and then I decided I was letting the low points dictate how I felt about the entire album. At its worst this album has weak hooks and breakdowns and the vocal delivery is bland. When distorted the guitar is over-compressed and lifeless. Any time throughout the album there are lead guitar parts they are mixed too low and just sound like noise under the rhythm guitar.
The first track, "Fur Cue", was intriguing until I got to the chorus and it was weak. I felt like it ruined the entire track. "Country Song" is a really good song, and to me it is the strongest song on the album. The lyrics are well written, well delivered and the song is musically interesting. "Tonight" is more a pop song than any other song on the album, but it has the most engaging melodic theme than any other song on the album. "Fade Out" I think could be very popular played live. It is interesting lyrically and rhythmically but never seems to come in as heavy as I'm waiting for it to get. Interestingly enough, the opening melody of "Roses" makes me think of Megadeth, and that may be my favorite part of the album - but I don't care for the rest of the song. "Down" has an interesting intro. "Desire For Need" is another song that was wrecked by the guitars being too compressed. "Forsaken" was an all around weak song to me.
On "Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray", Seether has recruited the talents of produce Brendan O'Brien who has also worked with Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam and AC/DC. While Brendan O'Brien's previous work seems to be really outstanding, it really just wasn't on the mark throughout this entire album.
Lyrics — 7
Shaun Morgan opted to try to stick to primarily clean vocals during the recording of "Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray" and there are very few screamed lyrics on this album. I feel like Shaun's vocals were lent strength and vitality by his screaming, and I wasn't especially interested in how prettily he can sing. In addition, I wasn't really impressed at how prettily he can sing. On several tracks, however, the vocal cadence is interesting.
The lyrics seem to be powerful and very personal throughout and it is a shame that the vocal delivery robs the album of the kick it should have. Going only off of the poetry of the lyrics, this is a very strong album lyrically although the themes are almost exclusive depressive. I have to think that the songs on this album may be better when performed live due to a tendency of Seether to have a more powerful screaming vocal delivery when in concert.
Overall Impression — 7
I'm not the biggest Seether fan, but I have enjoyed some of the music they've created in the past. There are 2 or 3 songs that are "mp3 player worthy" on "Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray" but there are several songs that feel like weak efforts, they don't seem to be mixed very well and still somehow come across sounding over-produced. After listening to the album I felt let down with about half of the material.
The album did not seem edgy, which is what I'm personally looking for in the sound of a Seether album. For the most part, the songs, individually and collectively, are forgettable. Again, I liked maybe 1/3 of this album, and the rest ranged from mediocre to forgettable. The title of the album seems to describe most of the album fairly well, however holding onto strings better left to fray.