If you’re unfamiliar with Seer, the first thing you should know is that they excel at defying genre expectations. Seer’s classification as a doom band is more of a case of convenience, as their Eldritch-like approach to songwriting renders their true classification indescribable. Long story short: the article you’re now reading originated as a review, but considering the plethora of information that I received in regards to the discography-long narrative that has been Seer’s signature, both parties agreed that an interview would be more informative. I’ll go ahead and let you know that Volume 6 is a very impressive record and one of 2019’s first contenders for best albums. In the meantime, if you find yourself intimidated at digesting Seer’s monolithic journey in one sitting there’s no need to worry, Seer guitarist Kyle Tavares was kind enough to chat with Indy Metal Vault and help out with getting everyone caught up.
Indy Metal Vault: Hey Kyle, thanks for stopping by. Volume 6 is extremely impressive. But before we delve into the album I did have a couple of additional questions. The first one is about the narrative that spans the entirety of Seer’s discography. I know I’m showing my greenhorns by asking, but could you bring us up to speed on the story so far?
Kyle Tavares: Thank you for the kind words! The first four volumes document a pilgrimage across a barren desert, with Vol. 3 dealing largely with the mental and physical tolls the journey takes on the travelers. They come across few others, and as they inch towards the center of the desert these encounters stop all together. They are pushed to their limits and eventually lose their way. A ritual is carried out during which one member of the group is sacrificed and their path is revealed again. The final part of their journey (Vol. 4) has the remaining members of the caravan wading through a dense forest at the center of the desert and finally reaching their goal. It’s revealed to be a doomsday device, which they use to trigger a near-extinction event. Volumes 5 & 6 take place many millennia after the incident, simultaneously. During Vol. 5, members of the dominant religion formed post-cataclysm converge upon the site of the doomsday device, hoping to unearth it. They are unaware this will likely destroy their world. Vol. 6 tells the story of a monk who belongs to a monastery built upon the tallest mountain on the planet. This monk has been chosen to make pilgrimage to the peak of the mountain where lies the power to return their world to the supposed golden age pre-apocolypse.
IMV: Another thing I’ve been curious to know is where does “They Used Dark Forces” exist within the scope of the story that Seer is telling?
KT: “They Used Dark Forces” takes place when the wanderers have reached the brink mentally, resulting in the group being driven apart and losing their way. Many of them are ready to die. The lyrics are inspired by an incident Bronson experienced leading up to the recording sessions for Vol. III & IV: Cult of the Void. He saved someone’s life—which of course is a positive—but the incident itself was extremely traumatizing. In his words: “’They Used Dark Forces’ is a parallel to the emotional and psychological battle after the event. Feeling disconnected and removed from humanity, experiencing a different level of consciousness, and being forced to realize the veil we all walk around with over our eyes, oblivious to the fragility of life. But also realizing the epic resilience and instinct to survive we all have sitting dormant inside us.”
IMV: Getting back to Volume 6, Seer’s always been a band that weaves through metal’s various genres. On previous albums this approach felt more subtle whereas Volume 6 feels more…….weaponized is the only proper term that comes to mind. The best example I can give is “Frost Tulpa”: the deceptively gentle intro and outro, the erratic tempo changes throughout the song, and an almost ritualistic transition between clean and extreme vocals. Was this approach in any way blatant?
KT: We wrote “Frost Tulpa” in a way that coincided with the story. Much like the previously mentioned group during “They Used Dark Forces,” the protagonist of Vol. 6 is at a pivotal point in his ascent where the mental and physical trials he’s endured may result in his death. He believes he is being contacted telepathically by an unknown entity, who initially comforts him. The connection takes a sinister turn as he begins to descend into madness. He eventually regains himself and reaches the peak, where the entity awaits. Our goal was to take the listener on a similar journey, sonically.
IMV: Artoffact Records is releasing Volume 6, and a quick glance at their website indicates that metal isn’t one of their primary specialties. How did Seer come into contact with Artoffact and how did that result into a deal?
KT: Artoffact’s roots are in electronic music, but rock and metal aren’t out of their wheelhouse by any means. They’re fairly active in Vancouver’s music scene, and a few of our friends’ bands are signed to Artoffact as well. We reached out to them and I think the fact that we knew some of the same people helped to build a relationship between us.
IMV: According to my prep research, some of the members of Seer did time in some thrash bands. We have quite a number of heshers here at Indy Metal Vault and I’m sure a lot of us would curious to know the names of these bands and is there any recorded material that’s available?
KT: Oh Lord. Well, Bronson, Josh, and I played in a band previous to Seer that was certainly thrash influenced, but not traditional thrash by any means. If you do a little bit of digging, I’m sure you can find it.
IMV: If I’m not mistaken, Seer has some pretty kick-ass gigs building up to Volume 6’s release. Has there been anything planned for gigs after the album comes out?
KT: We have a gig lined up with Conan and Vancouver locals Bushwhacker in February, but aside from that we’re sticking the record out and seeing what comes of it. Hopefully, we can get on the road and play these new songs in front of fresh audiences.
IMV: One final question about Volume 6: With four songs proper and two atmospheric tracks, there’s enough room for each track to have their own identities. With that in mind, are there any tracks that stand out as far as testing your limits as musicians?
KT: I think every release tests our limits as musicians, and we are all the better for it. Taking risks is just part of what Seer does, and with Vol. 6 we did it on every track. If it comes together as a cohesive release that differs from the last, mission accomplished.
Volume 6 will be available February 9th. “Seven Stars, Seven Stones” has been released digitally through Seer’s Bandcamp, and it’s awesome.