It seems impossible to imagine any doom/stoner band without a guitarist to help deliver those crushing Tony Iommi style guitar riffs that you’d expect from bands of those genres. Ladies and gentlemen may I introduce you to Seum, a Montreal trio who made the brave and momentous decision to not do so. The guitar-less band are made up of Gaspard – Vocals, Piotr – Bass, Fred on Drums and Winterized marks their full-length debut.
The record follows the Summer Of Seum EP, a split 7” with Fatima and an intriguing yet effective cover of Prince’s The Marrying Kind. If you were left scratching your head as to the meaning of the album’s name, it’s a reference to a chemical process used in the cannabis industry. Seum meanwhile is French slang for a state of mind that is ‘rage’, ‘hate’ or ‘disappointment’ and it can also be used to describe high quality cannabis. Both definitions of the band’s name seem applicable.
Sea Sick Six quickly allays any fears about the heaviness of the album (due to the lack of a guitar). Harsh vocals, though not distracting, interplay beautifully with red hot rhythms and recall stoner metal giants such as Bongzilla and Weedeater. Life Grinder has the kind of groove that would make The Ethereal Mirror era Cathedral proud, all that is missing is the cheesy Midnight Mountain music video. Winter Of Seum is one of the longer more progressive numbers on the album and makes for a nice change of pace. It’s the kind of track which warrants a couple of listens so as to appreciate its relative (compared to the rest of the album) complexities.
Harsh vocals, though not distracting, interplay beautifully with red hot rhythms and recall stoner metal giants such as Bongzilla and Weedeater…
Broken Bones is a fantastic blues laden Clutch track and demonstrates where the band’s strengths lie; laying down massive almighty fuck off grooves. It also has a funk feel which makes the idea of them covering the aforementioned The Marrying Kind by Prince seem not quite as outlandish. 666 despite its eye rolling title evoking metal cliches, is instead a brief but pleasant interlude that evokes desert plains and expansive horizons ala Yawning Man. The oddly named Black Snail Volcano is a darker piece that didn’t quite hit the mark for me, and this may be attributable to more of a death-doom approach. Think a budget Celtic Frost or Mental Funeral era Autopsy and you’ll be in the right ballpark basically.
The album concludes with a virtually unrecognisable cover of The Ramones Pet Cemetery, here named Red Sematary. It was only while reading the accompanying promo notes that I even realized it was a cover. The reworked title references the red special measures zone that Montreal has/had (?) been stuck in for 6 months as a result of the pandemic. It’s an interesting interpretation of the original and reminded me of Lotus Thrones cover of I Against I, in the sense that the band put completely their own spin on it, rendering it virtually unrecognizable. It certainly beats stepping out into any town and city centre in the UK and having to endure endlessly dull, word for word, covers of Beatles, Oasis and Bob Dylan classics.
For me as touched upon earlier in the review, Seum‘s strengths are focused predominately on the heavy ass blues/funk style grooves they manage to lay down so effortlessly. When they attempt to get a little darker and sludgier as with Black Snail Volcano, their efforts feel a little workmanlike and nowhere near as engaging. That minor complaint aside however, this is an excellent release from a band with masses of potential.
Scribed by: Reza Mills