It seems like only a few months ago that I was reviewing the first album by Canadian venturers into the outer darkness Seer, but a check on the clock shows that it was in fact closer to a year and a half since ‘Volume 1 & 2’ came out. Maybe some bizarre eddies in the space time continuum have warped my Euclidean views of reality, a state of confusion and fear only enhanced by listening to ‘Vol. III & IV: Cult of the Void.’
From the off, things are even darker than before, and ‘Ancient Sands (Rot Preacher)’ opens with the howling winds that surely scorched the same dry sands across which Abdul Alhazred attempted to flee his fate? Ritual chants are replaced by keening vocals with intermittent growls, the whole number drifting along on vapours of plants harvested from the dark unknown. This unearthly sound continues in ‘Acid Sweat’, the frantic almost discordant pace and hellish snarling delivery of the lyrics offering itself up for worship by those who want their metal blackened and clad in the robes of the dead. This heavier style continues in ‘Burnt Offerings’ an unholy collision of the Doomish and the corpse painted that halfway through its nine minutes plus goes off into a near Prog direction, throwing snatches of cinema dialogue, howling effects, and massive, near symphonic riffs into the mix before apparently recruiting John Carpenter to play keyboards for the last two minutes in a tribute to his excellent score to The Thing! By comparison ‘Burnt Offerings’ is an almost straightforward composition, albeit it by the end of the track the clean Gothic vocals are replaced by the groanings of a damned soul.
In contrast to the sonic battering of the first half of the album, Seer decide to show a lighter, albeit menacing, side with the three parts of one movement that are ‘Tribe of Shuggnyth’, ‘Spirit River’, and ‘Passage of Tears.’ The first part, despite having a title straight from the annals of HPL, is a stripped back acoustic instrumental number, the lone guitar plucking the chords of a Country player on a peyote trip. By comparison, ‘Spirit River’ is light and almost pastoral, the guitars being joined by keys that help the band travel to a gentler place where they can gain a respite, albeit temporary, from whatever demons have been chasing them through the rest of the album, any hope being slowly washed away by the mournful tones of ‘Passage of Tears’ with its bleak simplicity. Closing the album is ‘संसार‘, a word that some searching is, I believe, a Hindi word that can have a number of meanings, from the simple ‘World’, albeit not in a simple astronomical sense, but rather one that is more spiritual, to any number of mystical interpretations. This continues the predominantly acoustic approach of ‘Vol. IV’, with looping hypnotic chords matched by chanting vocals, strange invocations, and an atmosphere of ancient magic, the elements building, growing, and merging into a howl of white noise to cut off the album.
Seer merge an obvious love for the bizarre and Lovecraftian with the Gothic darkness of Type O Negative, the horror punk of The Misfits, and snatches of extreme metal, all mixed together in the darkness of long Canadian nights. They don’t sound exactly like anything else out there, taking disparate elements to forge their own path. In a world where so much music is safe or formulaic, for that, and releasing ‘ Vol. III & IV: Cult of the Void’, an album which could be an alternative soundtrack to the excellent movie ‘The Void’ (see Ave Noctum passim for the review), Seer are to be commended.