Untraditional doom outfit Seer unleashed their sophomore full-length back on February 8th. I may have came across this a little late, but the band’s ritualistic blend of doom and sludge metal really caught my ear. Check this out.
Seer have been active since 2014, steadily growing traction within the less abrasive side of our favourite music genre. While citing bands ranging from Black Sabbath to Blue Öyster Cult as pillars of their sound, Seer seem to soar between and above their influences, successfully creating something fresh with their established sound.
Operating out of Vancouver, British Columbia, the band’s sonic incorporations and thematic inclusions seem to be very much influenced by their home province’s ties to Mother Earth. While the pot smoking, longhaired fellow akin to characters from your favourite stoner comedies will come to mind when thinking of the music-making B.C. native, the reality is that the region is blessed with an overbearing culture of altruism aimed towards anything rooted within Earth’s bellows.
Unfortunately, this relationship both gifts and plagues the region’s natives, as the province is prone to devastating wildfires. From experience, travellers to B.C. can be met with the quiet but unfathomable presence of mountain ranges, standing tall and green within the background. However, trips years later can reveal smoke emanating from valleys between the aforementioned beasts, hinting at burning destruction in the distance, covering all that was beautiful with ash and a dense air. Metropolitan dwellers such as myself often take for granted our tendency to get lost within the concrete jungle, only abiding by strict time schedules and paved paths chosen for us by city planners. While our West Coast buds still buy packaged meats and are certainly bound by office hours, the population is evidently tied to nature more than the average North American.
This can be revealed through the music that arises from the region, and we don’t have to look too far to find some applicable examples. Bison, B.C. natives together since 2006, blend a uniform stoner/sludge sound with the holistic ties between humanity and nature, which can be seen in the group’s album covers and lyrical themes. A number of further examples can be cited, such as stoner rock group 88 Mile Trip, Black Wizard, or the drug-infused doomaniacs Psilocybin.
Seer continues this trend with Vol. 6, the group’s sixth release, albeit only second full-length. The band seems to refuse naming their releases, which is for better or for worse depending on your affection for album titles. I, for one, think this is an interesting concept, as every addition to Seer’s discography feels like another piece of the puzzle, of which you don’t know what the final image will be, but Seer certainly does.
The band demonstrates an adept use of song progression and subgenre fusion on this release. Seemingly masters of their craft, each of the four presented tracks (not including the intro and outro pieces) differ in unique ways but ultimately form a cohesive work. My favourite example of this can be found within the shift between tracks “Iron Worth Striking” and “Seven Stars, Seven Stones.” As a whole, the former lumbers along for its first half, incorporating melody and operatic singing (with some heavier inclusions along the way, but its mostly on the downlow). The track eventually transitions into a controlled chaos of lead guitar solos and frantic drumming, ultimately concluding with a heavy rhythmic guitar beat. Rather than splitting between tracks, the follow-up, “Seven Stars, Seven Stones,” adapts this same guitar portion during its opening, albeit with a different riff and tempo. We’ve shifted from one eight minute song to another, but the manner by which the transition was done reveals that a lot of thought was put into this release. You’re not just listening to a collection of songs here.
After a handful of listens, I believe I’ve found the essence of Vol. 6, and Seer’s music in general. Their ability to shift from slower melodic sections to heavier rumbles is a massive part of their pull factor. Traditionally, metal music has a strong tie with the classical genre as they can both shift between widely different tempos on the turn of a dime. Now, a true musician would be able to further explain why this is the case, but a brief listen to both styles confirms the fact. There’s something about the style that makes shifting from slower to faster sections sound proper even though from a musical standpoint it is unconventional. Now, Seer doesn’t incorporate tempo changes on a dime like other acts might, but rather they do so in tasteful fashion. This is one of those things where you kind of just have to listen to the music to understand, but the listener will find themselves in the midst of a song, and all of a sudden they’re listening to a heavier section when the pace was much slower a few seconds ago, but it all just works in conjunction. Be it the inherent nature of the music, or perhaps Seer’s songwriting ability, or probably a little bit of both, but this factor is the band’s outstanding quality, at least from what I’ve gathered.
The band goes to even further lengths to diversify themselves through the inclusion of unconventional sonic influences. There are these delightful chanting vocal portions that arise first on “Iron Worth Striking” but come up again in later songs that works really well with the nature of the music. Furthermore, “Frost Tulpa” opens with some watery, softer guitarwork that sounds a lot like something you’d hear on a Pink Floyd record. Finally, “As the Night Fades” closes the album in groovy, heavy, and crushing fashion.
The beauty of this release is that it is doom metal for people who aren’t interested in the longer, more drawn-out forms of straight doom, perhaps to the likes of the Finnish variety. Well, I’m really just describing myself here, but I feel like my experience will resonate with a lot of people. There are certainly some doom fanatics out there who adore the slower, freeing yet suffocating style of bands within the subgenre, but the blend of “boring” (its subjective, people!) song styles and longer song formats just makes the subgenre a hard pass for me. I’ll sink my teeth into some stoner/doom or some more rock n’ roll-flared traditional doom, but I seem to need the presence of a third outside influence for music within this vein to cater to my tastes.
On that note, Seer’s music is a perfect blend of doom metal, with the longer songs and operatic clean singing, and heavier influence, with the screaming and heavier portions plastered about. Now this, I can get behind. Its doom metal for people who don’t like doom metal, and I’m perfectly fine with that. The album also has a 40 minute runtime, so its an easier listen. Overall, I’m really impressed with this release.