In the midst of the bustling industrial revolution the world over the Romanticists of early 1800’s England would not only seek to revive the ancients Enlightenment but, essentially recondition the great works of Greece past. The young poet Keats, then considered a hack who’d pour with ungainly emotional hyperbole above all else, would die young at 25 intentionally leaving his most famously unfinished poem Hyperion mid-line. He’d abandoned his interpretation of Thamyris’ Titanomachia, a depiction of of the ten year war of the Titans in Thessaly, after the first-hand death of his younger brother due to tuberculosis. His own death would follow three years later by the hand of the same illness on a final sojourn to Rome. What legacy he’d leave after only six years of professional publish echoes even today through several generations removed influence yet, the Hyperion stands as an unfilled crack in his tomb. As dense as Hesiod but adorned with oozing, bard-like flourish and melodramatic dialogue the pieces first three books build intensity as they proceed unto a great wound that’d leave Apollo eternally achieving enlightenment in mid-sentence with Mnemosyne. Vancouver, British Colombia based atmospheric doom metal project Seer‘s body of work thus far offers a comparably grand, in-motion epic though their fantastic tale pulls imaginatively from all corners of literature in forming a formidable tale that now spans six volumes. This sixth piece, appropriately titled ‘Vol. 6’ appears as a parable to inspire thought among the rigidity of the devout, a fable that merely gilds its beautifully captured atmospheric doom and sludge metal unto a great work that’d stretch ceremoniously beyond the confines of expectation built through fast-rising legacy.
Though Black Sabbath deflowered the world with the existential dread of the working man it’d be concurrent cerebral fuss of King Crimson that pulled the thinking man out of his proverbial cave of thought. Herein lies the satisfying dichotomy of structures that carries the work of Seer with several generations of insight wrapped around each yellowed bone. Formed in 2014 among current Black Wizard bassist Josh Campbell, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Tavares, and vocalist Bronson Norton, Seer would consistently deliver a diverse set of EPs where it wasn’t yet clear if they’d been expressing a formative set of stylistic ventures or if the broader versatility of the band was merely staggering. ‘Vol. 1’ (2015) would find connection between epic doom metal and modern sludge metal in a more or less average form but it would be ‘Vol. 2’ (2016) that would shock me personally with its gothic country-esque “Cosmic Ghost” giving way to mountainous Pallbearer sized gloom and early Baroness-esque heaviness. That blend of olden doom metal psychedelia and modern sludge atmospheric would persist in strange form on the oddly accessible prog-sludge feeling debut full-length ‘Vol. III & IV: Cult of the Void’ (2017) which was clearly divided into two halves that were just as dissonant in relation as the first two volumes had been. All would coalesce and marry in the darkness of ‘Vol. 5’ (2017) as Seer would add Empress frontman Peter Sacco to their ranks as they continued to experiment in ways that would amplify the dramatic effect of the full listen without muddling the core appeal of their sound, that blend of epic doom metal amidst sludge and extreme metal influence. What comes with ‘Vol. 6’ is their first undeniably complete and inalienable great work.
The grand castles, flower-strewn ruins, and deified peaks of Brazilian artist Cauê Piloto (see: Un‘s ‘Sentiment’) offer perfect visual accompaniment for the resplendent, colorful imposition of Seer‘s second full-length, a cathartic-yet-doomed journey of pious intent unto madness and death. Norton‘s roaring, cathedralesque vocals offer a range from classic Candlemass to the downtrodden Pete Steele influenced mourn of Pallbearer‘s Brett Campbell in a performance that serves to vault Seer up to the heights enjoyed by similarly rising groups like Spirit Adrift. The one-two punch of “Iron Worth Striking” and the unforgettable epic “Seven Stars, Seven Stones” could almost ‘make’ this album, and surely this is where Seer‘s songwriting proves they’ve arrived with something special but, the glory of ‘Vol. 6’ is merely growing in its first half. Layers of synth, piano and glowing flits of Chapman stick adorn the escalation of ‘Vol. 6’ from the dark, snarling metallic presence of a modern doom quintet unto professionally meticulous sound design. The recording breathes and roars in the same breath as the opus resounds deepest in the conclusion of “As the Light Fades”; The alternation between anthemic clean vocal and extreme metal rasp atop progressive sludge metal rhythms serves as an impressive sort of monolith, not far from the grandeur of early The Flight of Sleipnir.
For the extreme doom metal fan this consistently rising tide will manifest as a record of constant movement and crystalline detail with no fixed emotional response. There is no great surprise here in terms of the quality, the general overall fidelity of ‘Vol. 6’ but what does subvert expectation comes with how they’ve married all forms into cohesion far beyond what even ‘Vol. 5’ suggested was possible. Where I find some small frustration is in knowing this narrative but not necessarily grasping how it relates to previous works; Having less detailed explanations of how ‘Vol. 6’ relates to the suggestion of a great, interconnected career-spanning work has me wondering how this story of a monk who would climb the highest peak on Earth believing he would save humanity. The meaning is clear, resonant and complete in its Sisyphean woe though, I am left curious of the greater narrative. As a bridge between progressive sludge atmospherics, modernist epic doom metal and extreme metal influenced high-conception this is a fantastically plodding trip that is easily recommended. I warmed to its tonality first and then came to love the detailed surroundings of its impassioned performances as such I can give a high recommendation. For preview I’d say the natural points of connection will come for most in the empowered gloom of “Seven Stars, Seven Stones” or the almost blackened rhythmic crawl of “Iron Worth Striking”.
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