Seer’s Story Continues into the Darkness on “Vol. 6″
If you have a long, winding narrative to tell, do you opt for a book series, or would you go for a medium that’s a bit more theatrical? For Vancouver’s Seer, the stiffness of a Tolkien-heavy summer reading list has been foregone, and they opt instead for something better fit for swinging beers: a metal band.
Sure, whether the story is told in one song or 12, conceptual albums have been held in high regard; for this five-piece, a conscious decision was made to take matters one step further, forming a band whose thematic content follows a chronicle spanning their inception in 2014 to today. The twists and turns are not limited to their lyrics, however -- a diverse roster of influences makes for an instrumental odyssey as full of atmosphere as it is old school rock 'n' roll. After five generous installments in the story of Seer, the outfit returns with Vol. 6. It's an epic in which a monk residing on the tallest mountain meditates about the journey downward. Check out an exclusive full stream of the entire album below.
The concept of an expedition has been a common thread throughout Seer’s various volumes, with Vol. III & IV: Cult of the Void (2017) spanning desert and forest until, eventually, a sacrifice is needed to illuminate the roadmap. However, luck takes a turn for the worst as a doomsday device triggers a catastrophic event -- while the monk described in Vol. 6 holds the power to return the world to its former glory upon journeying to the peak, no one has ever seemed to survive the trek thus far. Capturing the torment of this predicament is a dire take on the NWOBHM-inspired guitar stylings of Kyle Tavares (Wormwitch) and Peter Sacco (Empress). Bronson Lee Norton takes the reins on angst-ridden 1970s-style howls, providing a smoothness that soars sky high against gripping rhythm and basslines.
One stand-out of Vol. 6 is “Seven Stars, Seven Stones,” which aptly captures all of the moving parts that makes the unit uniquely themselves. Boisterous guitar riffs fit for an arena live in harmony among the throbbing, distorted heaviness found in cavernous clubs. The steady, mid-tempo pace (relatively speaking for doom) also heightens accessibility for two distinct metal fans that righteously exist in the current year. Lyrics also shed light on the headspace of our main protagonist: while contemplating the deaths of the monks who have made the destined trip before him, broader perspective strikes, saying “to accept responsibility / unchained from dogma / and to accept no rule / no punishment, nor reward.”
We had the pleasure of talking with Seer guitarist and vocal contributor Kyle Tavares in celebration of Vol. 6.
Seer has garnered a reputation for serving up a palatable cocktail of influences. As we await your sixth installment, can you tease us with which "flavor" is most pronounced on this record? Hope I didn't stretch that metaphor too thin.
I like it! We’ve moved away from the “stoner” influence on this one. We never really felt like we fit into that world very well, and our sound is more cohesive without it. Black metal and traditional heavy metal are more prominent on Vol. 6.
I admire the simplicity of referring to your albums as volumes. What provoked the decision to do so?
I believe the first one was a nod to the old school. Black Sabbath has been a big influence on us then, as they still are. After that it just made sense to continue in that fashion because lyrically, each volume serves as a chapter in the overarching Seer narrative.
Vol. 6 definitely has a wondrous concept behind it that's well-captured in Caué Piloto's artwork. What inspired you to tackle religious dogma? Is there perhaps a specific event that put the topic at the forefront of your brains?
The theme of Vol. 6 isn’t limited to religious dogma, but applies to any set of rigid principles people subscribe to. Growing up, my criticism in this area was applied mainly to conservative or religious types. In recent years, I began to feel disenfranchised by the “tribes” I related most to -- largely left-leaning progressive ideologies -- as the attitudes towards these beliefs rivalled religious fervour. I find it difficult to pin down how much of that is my own perception changing, but I’m fairly confident that folks have become more dogmatic, generally. It could be the lack of religion in some people’s lives leaving a void to be filled by ideology. I think we should try to be more open to ideas that challenge us. I’m still critical of conservatism, but I’m also wary of the church of veganism, the faith of social justice, etc.
On the same topic of the album's theme, I think mountains are interesting metaphors. On one hand, they're very much heavy, wise, and grounded, but on the other hand, they're a way up to a vast, floaty, other-worldliness -- a duality that is very much captured in Seer's sound. How does Seer manage to conjure and capture these two essences?
I think that’s the positive side of having a large palette to work with. We aren’t afraid to take a record or song in a different direction when it calls for it. When you incorporate as many sounds as we do, though, you run the risk of a release lacking cohesiveness. We try our best to keep that in mind and make records that flow well.
You have a hometown date with Conan and Bushwhacker coming up. What does it feel like to share your larger narrative IRL?
We only played a couple shows last year, so it will be nice to get back on stage. When we make a record in the studio, we add layers of instrumentation to create the atmosphere we hope listeners will be pulled into. Obviously, the live show is different. We’re there in the flesh to provide the volume, to literally move audiences with sound and take control visually as well; two sides of the same coin.
I feel like much has changed in the world of doom since you guys first started putting out records in 2015, but at the same time, certain hallmarks of the scene will always remain static. Where do you think Seer will journey, artistically-speaking?
“Doom” may become something we are associated with less and less. We’ve always found the lines between metal subgenres to be quite blurry, but there are a lot of purists out there who think differently. We will continue to evolve, and that may alienate people. It has always been our intention to forge our own path.
Vol. 6 releases February 8 via Artoffact Records.
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