It’s a curious business when an album isn’t bad, isn’t great, or isn’t even average either. How to review it? Give it a proper slagging? This is the challenge Vol. 6 (Artofact Records), by Vancouverian Doom Metal peddlers Seer, poses this critic. In a sense, it’s hard to fully categorize. Listening to this album is like appraising a beautiful ice sculpture, only it’s a little too far away to see, it’s snowing, and you’re only wearing your underwear. This is a roundabout way of saying that the album is very easy to admire, but very hard to actually like.
Oh, on paper, it is impressive stuff. The album’s songs are long, complex and painstakingly crafted. It’s competently put together. You can tell this is a band of very talented musicians. You may even find yourself carried away by the grand scale of it all. The band’s sound is heavy and deep, but neatly side-steps all the Iommi riffing that blights the genre, in all its banal laziness. Instead, Seer’s sound combines aspects of Prog, Amorphis’ Death ‘n Doom fusion, and a grandiosity and scale all of its own. It is distinct, a great example of how passion and a willingness to push the envelope can lead to great ideas.
Admirable, as I said earlier, but not fun. There’s no pleasure to be had in listening to the record. Instead, the album seems oddly like a well put together technical manual. You can take note of the craftsmanship, and may even learn a great deal, but as a means of entertainment, it simply doesn’t work. It isn’t dull, but it never gets the pulse rising. It’s the sophisticated Doom Metal equivalent of a Rich Tea biscuit. It tastes more than OK, but, still… .
There are points when it threatens to get engaging. For example, on track five, ‘As The Light Fades’, we have flickers of compelling riffs combined with synthesizer effects. Track three, ‘Seven Stars, Seven Stones’, kicks off with a compelling chug, broken up with some intriguing treble warbling and ‘Frost Tulpa’ howls and shrieks like a Wendigo in a blizzard. Yet it’s not enough and doesn’t quite cut it.
6 / 10