Review: “Acheron” by Voice Of Ruin

In December 2018 Voice Of Ruin hit the studio to record their third album in Gothenburg Sweden with producers Henrik Udd and Fredrik Nordstrom at Fredman Studio (Arch Enemy, At The Gates, In Flames) and the result is “Acheron”. According to the press release, “Acheron is… A branch of the River Styx, A doorway to the Underworld, A connection between life and death, A link between the present and the past” which makes it a concept album of sorts. Vocalist Randy Schaller (The Crotals, Conjonctive, ex-Enigmatik), Bassist Erwin Bertschi (ex-Stormfist), Drummer Dario Biner (Eskeype), Guitarists Nicolas Haerri (Requiem for Sirens) and Darryl Ducret (ex-Dysrider) got together back in 2008 in Nyon, Switzerland and have around the Globe amassing more than 200 shows alongside the likes of Sepultura, Children Of Bodom, Hatebreed and The Black Dahlia Murder. “Between tragic reality and fiction, Voice Of Ruin draws its lyrical inspiration from both the darkest episodes of history and an imaginary future, ravaged by disease and human madness. On the musical side, the influences of the band, both modern and classic, have evolved over the years, but the style remains difficult to categorize. Some argue that Voice Of Ruin distills a melodic death metal, while others will find notes of groove, thrash and even Black Metal”.

A moment of feedback and a bass riff bring in swathes of Metal riffs and thunderous kit work from Dario Biner and breathe life into “Thranatophia” and “Acheron”. The tearing, enraged vocals of Schaller describe him being dragged to Hell by the sirens call of Satan and fearing death with a storytelling style that avoids introspection, instead speaking with a resigned almost melancholic tone. A nice almost spoken word bridges a pair of solid riff passages while the song ends on a short clean guitar passage that allows “Rotting Crows” the change to kick off. A firestorm of riffs with hints of a Lamb of God influence and some lead rhythmic work delivered with an energy and intensity make the cut a powerhouse affair. The solo rises from the depths of the pummeling like the Loch Ness Monster surfacing for air before driving down the darkness with some harshest unclean vocals on the album. The ode to witchcraft that is “Salem” is a lesson in how to create a fine musical flow with a brief melodic bridge giving a brief respite from the onslaught before diving into some Black Metal riffs and blast beats, as does the brief spoken word. That ebb and flow is what makes the track alongside some phenomenal lead work that gives it an epic vibe that grows as the lyrical story unfolds with Schaller taking the roll of the witch awaiting the burning at the steak. The onslaught of blast beats and Black Metal riffs breaks to some solid Groove Metal at the start of “Holy Venom” and the pair of styles trade back and forth seamlessly to create a tune that Devildriver would be proud of writing. As black as darkest night, Schaller offers the poison to save you from your self destruction.

Whether “One Way Overdose” is Schaller talking of his own addiction, is a metaphorical tale or him telling the tale through someone else’s eyes, it’s is delivered in Gollumite fashion during a battering of Earth shattering kit work from Biner and when Schaller closes out the song with a Slam Metal roar, every piece of glass in a one mile radius cracks. There is no pain, just fear. A Juggernaut of similarly beautifully pummeling grooves “Dark Waters” takes the earlier material and turns everything up a notch with a relentlessness and drive that leaves no stone unturned. Some melodic riffs are used to lower the intensity during the chorus but that doesn’t change the gravely vocals – there is no room for any cleaning singing in this savage beating and the staccato riffing breakdown that closes out the cut owes it’s influence to Metallic Hardcore. The mid introduction pick slide nuances out over multiple listens as “Mass Grave” has a fist pumping “hey” moment that will go down well with a live audience. The music conjures thoughts of Ancient Egypt while lyrically telling a tale of a plague of some kind, there is brief orchestral moment before Schaller grunts and the “hey” returns. It’s those little moments that make all the difference in the current Metal climate and they are done incredibly well. “Suffer – Recover” is a split personality of a song, the melodic side playing against an accented unclean vocal in spoken word style while swinging back moodily to the heavier side before going full bore for the final third. As you might expect with the title it’s a tale of suffering around depression and addiction that is as thought provoking as it is a sing-a-long.

The tongue in cheek humor in the lyrics of “Hypochondriac” might be lost on some of its listeners because it’s not something that is musically or vocally hinted at. A song about people who Google their symptoms and then believe the nonsense that they believe, the modern day Hypochondriac, it’s a blisteringly good affair that brings a smile and is a welcome break from some of the intensity. “Parasominia” is a split of paranoia and insomnia, a tale of nightmares but without any of the creepiness that you might expect from bands that choose Horror as there theme. Instead, Voice Of Ruin stick firmly to task and decimate their surroundings with a skull crushingly good set of Blackened Thrash riffs while leaving you with something to think about once you’re head has stopped spinning from your relentless headbanging. Making sure that the album is all killer, no filler “Blessed Be The Fruit” is a fine piece of Metal that summarizes the album to perfection with the dark overtones of a spoken word left ringing in your ears. There is no doubt that all of the bands experience has gone into creating something that demands your attention and “Acheron” is simply put, a Metal masterpiece, with everything you should expect and more from a band that deserve some serious credit [8.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Thranatophobia
  2. Rotting Crows
  3. Salem
  4. Holy Venom
  5. One Way Overdose
  6. Dark Water
  7. Mass Grave
  8. Suffer – Recover
  9. Hypochondriac
  10. Parasominia
  11. Blessed Be The Fruit

“Acheron” by Voice Of Ruin will be released on 27th September with pre-orders available here

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