Trve followers may notice that this is the third review for Vancouver’s unheralded Seer at this site. Vol. 1 & 2 opened 2016 with a whimper which at least betrayed some potential for proper impact, and said impact was felt with 2017’s Vol. III & IV. 2019 has arrived and with it comes a rejection of Roman numerals and a reversion to integers in Vol. 6. “But wait!” I hear you cry; “What happened to Vol. 5?” The honest reason that I didn’t cover it was partly that we didn’t receive the promo but principally that I didn’t have much inclination to buy and review a record simply to say that it’s average. You may consequently note that my views on Seer are reasonably varied. What, then, is the verdict for this release?
The various volumes released by Seer track a clear development across the band’s discography. Traversing honest but flawed stoner metal (Vol. 1 & 2), dipping into something more progressive and groove-oriented (Vol. III), crossing sparse, desert rock (Vol. IV), before truly embracing a brutal, funereal flavor (Vol. 5). Vol. 6 feels like an appropriate culmination of these styles. Fragments of these contribute to a sound which is, at its core, a more thoroughbred style of doom that sounds uniquely like Seer. Despite the centralization of these older forms, new influences are also drawn from classic and black metal. A number of the guitar riffs and solos have a NWoBHM tint and Bronson Lee Norton’s clean vocals are cleaner than ever. Furthermore, some blackened passages are utilized to accentuate the heavier moments, with blast beats, shrieks and atmospheric guitars swarming the heavy doom ordinarily used. When immersed in the record, it actually features quite the array of influences and is quite diverse.
The particular strength of Vol. 6 is its evocative and atmospheric nature. The way I use iTunes only shows very small images of album artwork so I don’t really appreciate the art until actively looking at it while reviewing an album. In this instance, I was satisfied to see that the album depicts an image that perfectly matches the image the music evoked for me. The surprisingly dynamic music across the record and the atmospheric conclusions to “Seven Stars, Seven Stones” and “Frost Tulpa” conjure a windswept, mountainous backdrop. Meanwhile, the vaguely tribal “ohs” and “ahs” on “Iron Worth Striking” and the unusual effects in the quieter moments compel a magical, shamanistic edge; this is a foreign and fantastical landscape and one to which you will transported by the music. The heavy and light elements of the Seer sound are better integrated here such that the division into two parts (Vol. III & IV) is now an unnecessary maneuver.
Despite the dynamic and visceral nature of Vol. 6, it lacks the x-factor to convert my largely positive views into a forceful recommendation. There’s a fistful of great riffs but some which are entirely indistinguishable from their surroundings. For example, the opening third of “As the Light Fades” shuffles along forgettably, though it thankfully improves beyond this. The four core tracks are quite long so I wonder whether breaking apart a few of these into shorter tracks with more segregated ideas may help them to stand out more. Compounding this, the heavy tracks are brickwalled. Perhaps the lack of outstanding elements can be attributed to this sonic flatness as passages which are musically quite different aren’t distinguishable until one’s attention is truly committed. These issues also had the consequence of making Vol. 6 quite the grower. I was unimpressed on my first three listens and it was only beyond this that I began to glean more. It’s also worth noting that the six minutes gifted to the atmospheric introductory and concluding tracks are superfluous when compared to the interludes and conclusions built into the four core tracks.
Vol. 6 is a good record but still not the one which I hoped for when conferring a strong 3.5 on Vol. III & IV in 2017. It is a satisfying evolution from the sounds used on that release but the riffs and overall song-writing are not quite as strong. Seer gives the impression of a band feeling around their outer edges of defining themselves. There’s much to be said for continual development but I am beginning to become more unsure that I will ever be entirely satisfied with a Seer release.