In the dense, hazy realm of sludge and doom metal, Seið emerges as a force to be reckoned with. Comprising guitarist and bassist Zack Olander and singer Derek Avery, this stoner/doom metal outfit has forged its path with a unique blend of heavy riffs and introspective storytelling. Zack shares insights into his musical journey, the creation of their latest album “We Are Doomed,” and the distinctive influences that shape the sonic landscapes of Seið.
“I’ve always been into metal, especially stuff from the 80s and 90s,” Zack opens up and goes on saying. “Bands like Suffocation and Mortician were regular spins in my high school life. Eventually I started smoking grass and early in that time I listened to Sleep‘s ‘Dopesmoker‘ album and I quickly became obsessed with doom and stoner/sludge metal. It pushed me to start my own doom project with a college buddy of mine and we called it Bong Mammoth. Initially it was supposed to just be a recording project so we wrote some songs but it eventually grew into a live band once the lineup got filled out. This was all around 2017/2018. We played some shows in late 2019 but never got around to recording our songs, and the band dissolved shortly before the 2020 pandemic. In 2022, I and some of the old members decided to start it again, back to the original intention of putting out an album, which eventually became ‘We Are Doomed’.“
About “The Sentry,” a featured song on “Progstravaganza: Harmony in Complexity” compilation, Zack says: “Musically, this is one of the first sets of riffs that I wrote, and Derek’s lyrics tell the story of a town guard in medieval times trying to stand against an angry mob, and his dread at the realization that the crowd will probably end his life. There’s definitely a lot of anti-authoritarian messages in the song, it’s just written from the perspective of someone who is an instrument of authority.“
In the mystical process of crafting their sonic tapestry, the division of labor within Seið is as distinct as the haunting notes that define their music. Zack, the mastermind behind the instrumental labyrinth, reveals the delicate dance of creation. “Generally, I write the music,” he says. In tandem, Derek, the wordsmith of the group, breathes life into the compositions with his evocative lyrics.
Yet, the alchemy doesn’t end there; it merely finds its inception. As the ethereal melodies and poignant verses take shape, the trio, completed by the rhythmic heartbeat of a drummer, converges in a harmonious jam session. There’s a fluidity to their process, an organic exchange of energies as they weave the fabric of their doom-laden sound.
But within the seamless collaboration, there are echoes of another contributor – Amber Adams, a former member of the band. In the haunting tracks “Bog Witch” and “A Hymn to Freyr” from their album “We Are Doomed,” Amber’s spectral riffs linger, leaving an indelible mark on Seið’s sonic landscape.
Zack’s recounting transports us into the creative realm, where the birth of a song is a convergence of inspiration, instinct, and shared musical spirits. The riffs, he explains, aren’t meticulously planned but rather emerge spontaneously, like whispers from the otherworldly. With a keen ear, he sifts through these sonic fragments, intuitively piecing together a mosaic of melodies that resonate with the band’s essence.
And then, as if by cosmic design, the lyrics manifest. The words, infused with the essence of the music, complete the metamorphosis, turning a collection of riffs into a narrative that transcends the boundaries of the tangible and ventures into the ethereal realms of Seið’s doom-laden universe.
Who or what are your major influences in metal? How do they impact your own musical style?
Zack Olander: As far as direct influences within our style, definitely Sleep, Electric Wizard, Hell (MSW), Grief, and Eyehategod are the big ones. Those are the bands that inspired me to play with the sound that I use and a lot of my riffs, I think, take a lot of influence from those bands in particular and also bands like them. I’m also personally a huge death metal fan, especially of ‘death/doom’ bands like Autopsy, Winter, and Cianide and I think some influence from those bands creeps into our music here and there. My philosophy on the music is that I want to have doomy stoner riffs but with a kind of attitude that you might find in death metal, something super heavy, that rips your face off. That’s more or less what we’re going for. We definitely take a lot of inspiration from old hardcore punk bands as well, that’s Derek’s thing.
What challenges have you faced as an artist in the scene, and how have you overcome them?
ZO: The biggest challenge is getting noticed. I’m pretty sure our music will always be niche, but I accept that because I love it, so it’s not so much overcoming as coexisting with it.
How do you see the scene evolving, and what role do you believe your music plays in that evolution?
ZO: To be honest with you, I’m not really in the loop when it comes to newer bands coming out. I usually look for old stuff that I’ve missed out on and use that for inspiration. It’s not a snobby thing either, there’s just already so much stuff I still have to listen to. I think our music is the product of an obsession with a certain era in metal if that obsession smoked weed and refused to play below max volume. I’m not sure how many other bands out there are doing that right now, but we can’t be the only ones.
Share with us some of the most memorable moments in your musical journey so far.
ZO: I’m always going to remember our first show we played, before Derek was in the band (although he did attend the event that night). We played a house show at my friend’s barn which at the time was pretty secluded in the woods. He used to throw Halloween parties there every year and have bands play. The last big one he did in 2019 the Fall right before the pandemic, we opened up a 4-band bill to a decent crowd. Obviously at house shows there are certain things people can do that they could not get away with at a bar or concert venue; let’s leave it at that. It was the first time anyone outside the band had ever heard our music and it got a good reception and I’ll never forget that. It was just a great night.
Do you have a personal favorite among your own compositions? If so, which one and why?
ZO: I can’t say I have a favorite, I like them all.
Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or collaborations you’re working on?
ZO: The next album is already written, a mix of new songs and the rest of the old songs we wrote before the initial breakup and reforming of the band, and we also already have a session drummer lined up to record for it. I can’t give any more details on that, but I’ll say that people who are interested should be checking our social media for more news on it soon.
What does it mean to you to be a part of our compilation? How has the experience been for you?
ZO: To us it’s an opportunity to have more people hear our stuff who might not necessarily otherwise hear it, which is what we ultimately would like. It’s been a great experience collaborating with Niko at Prog Sphere, totally professional and pain-free.
Is there a message you’d like to convey to your fans who will be discovering your music through this compilation?
ZO: I just want to say thank you for taking the time to hear our music and support what we do. The support has been amazing.
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or not, who would it be?
If you had to pick one instrument (besides your primary one) to master, what would it be?
What’s your all-time favorite metal album, and why? One album that you always return to.
ZO: Sleep – Dopesmoker, because it is the most important factor in the existence of our band. The one song concept album has never been done as well since then, and the dynamics in it are so subtle you generally need to be high to notice them. It’s the ultimate smoke album, or an album for long drives. It’s also hard to ignore the religious themes in the lyrics of the song, which has definitely had an impact on us.
Are there non-musical influences that find their way into your music? (e.g., literature, art, science)
ZO: As I implied above, I think there’s definitely an undertone of spirituality in our music and some of our lyrics, especially Norse/Pagan mythology, especially on the final track of “We Are Doomed“. I’m inspired a lot by world mythologies and have a fascination with spiritual musical traditions, which tend to employ a lot of drones in their compositions, like what we do in our band. Our name itself comes from a type of Old Norse witchcraft that involved altering consciousness through music or other means. The Poetic and Prose Eddas and Norse sagas are a direct inspiration for us as well. And of course, cannabis is and has always been an influence on us.
Any final thoughts or reflections you’d like to share with our audience?
ZO: “We Are Doomed” is the result of years of ups and downs and delays and obstacles and it’s finally out, but we’re not done. We’re just getting started. We have more music coming soon, hopefully out by the end of 2024. And after that, we’ll see. There are many things that should have killed this band by now and it’s still here, we’re not going anywhere. Derek couldn’t be here for the interview due to his currently brutal work schedule but it has been an honor that people care about us enough to want to know more about us.
Where can our audience find more about you and your music? (Include social media handles, website, etc.)
For the album: