Voir Dire is a very difficult record to explain, especially due to its massive size and scope. The amount of work that these Oregon based blackened doom (with some elements of death metal, Metal Archives) metallers perform here is staggering, and it fits their experiences, each having been in no less than six bands prior to this recording. The bass player alone has been in what looks to be more than thirty different acts over the years and he also manages a record label of Glossolalia Records, of which the band is currently signed. But as far as the recording goes, there’s quite a lot of depth to it, so let us begin. The first track seems more like a separate EP than an opener, as it comes in close to twenty-two minutes and offers a slow-paced, yet wonderfully atmospheric performance that includes a mix of thundering doom, death growls and fragile clean vocal lines from the frontman. Interestingly enough, the frontman and the bass player are brothers (Stephen and Kenneth Parker respectively) with Kenneth being the younger. He also manages a studio and works with artists around the pacific-northwest. These guys are awfully young, so don’t let anyone tell you that you and your brother or sister cannot form a successful band, or series of them. Because as far as I’ve heard, this stuff literally verges on fantastic and it’s an absolutely tremendous debut judging from the opener alone. Usually bands don’t really give me enough material to make an informed decision, but this time around I feel that I’ve already heard enough from just the very beginning of the disc to decide as to whether or not the work here is worth your time. But let us continue into “Weeping Granite 8:04” where I’m almost getting a little bit of an Agalloch feel, in addition to something that reminds me a little of ICS Vortex in the vocal lines. This track is much fiercer and feels closer towards raw melodic black metal, which I can definitely get into. “Tears Of Sky 3:28” starts the first of several instrumental atmospheres, with this one being a decent little segue of mist and majesty that leads into the next cut, “Algid Lungs 8:23.” We’re thrown back into black metal when this track begins and it even sounds a bit rawer than before. It’s quite easy to tell the band’s influences from the very first listen of the record and they don’t seem to stray too far from those, which will excite many of those looking for a pristine mix of the doom and black metal genres. There’s even the employment of gothic pianos right before another dose of The Mantle worship, which I am indeed hearing here, but I am not complaining about it either. They’re definitely doing their own thing with this style and should this act not fade away as the forty others have, we might very well be looking at the next Agalloch. Now for the final track, “Opaque Shadows In Framed Stillness” which is split into four parts and totals out to half an hour. The first part of the track is around eight minutes in length and brings us back into death metal, albeit with a light shot of black metal and some clean vocal melodies. Seems like a typical track from these guys, right? Well, the second part of the quadrology comes in at nearly eleven minutes and it encases the second instrumental within it. After a short section of acoustics and clean vocals that envelops into a sort of slow-rocker, the whole thing rolls into pure atmosphere and then back into doom/death. The third piece of the quadrology is only a little more than six minutes and is mostly instrumental, with the heavier stuff coming in later. Another chunk of instrumental atmosphere comes back into play as it turns into a display of complete trauma and ends the album out on that. From one black/death/doom band to another, I applaud this effort and feel that it fully captures the emotion that is meant to entangle the three genres. I might be pulling a display quite similar to (if not even more frantic) the album’s denouement on our forthcoming album. If “Gates Of Paradise” does find its way on there, then you can almost expect it. At any rate, Voir Dire does exactly what it should do as far as melding these three complimentary colors (albeit rather dark colors at that) and it paints a rather profound masterpiece of darkness, pain and subtle beauty. Looks like we’ve got competition… But I don’t mind, rather I embrace it. You should too, when you check out a copy of this record for yourself.
(8 Tracks, 73:00)