"There's no compromise!" roars Shaun Morgan on Fur Cue, the song that opens Seether's fourth album and sounds most like their back catalogue.
If he's trying to reassure long-term fans that the band haven't lost their edge, he needn't bother. While the remainder of Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray never matches the rage of its opener, the subdued anger allows for other — no less intense — emotions. And more daring songs.
Apart from revealing the new complexity of their songwriting, the twisting, despairing Roses finds Morgan ditching his familiar growl to showcase previously unheard vocal subtleties. Between its chiming guitars and huge radio-ready choruses, Here And Now reveals a vulnerability only previously hinted at.
Forsaken flits between delicate piano ballad (sample lyric: "Your halo is a flame") and driving rock torment ("My only relief is gone and dead"). Fade Out is a brazen kiss-off to an ex that never crosses the line from defiance to aggression. And, perfecting the good times template of Rise Above This and Remedy, Tonight is sheer celebratory bliss.
Even the ragged, heavy-riffing Desire For Need and Down aren't simply outbursts of impotent fury. There's real depth and detail here, the work of a maturing band who've found their own way with a little help from Brendan O'Brien.
The producer who revived the careers of Dylan and Springsteen, who ushered Pearl Jam from Seattle to the world, who rewired AC/DC, has given Seether the confidence to stop compromising.