Madness, madness, madness….the world surrounding me is relentless in only this one trait. Voices of Ruin encapsulate this madness with an absorbing sense of desolation. Their 2015 release Born from the Dark made my top five albums for the year, and I can assure you that this is no mean feat.
Hailing from Costa Mesa, Orange County, this unsigned quintet forms a metal giant so much bigger than its respective parts. The componentry is the same as other bands: bass, drums, two guitars, and a vocal; but the synthesis and amalgamation of so many genres into a truly original form, now that is unique!
Both black metal and death metal come to mind when I try to place their sound, and this is because of the precision and depth that they have, something I usually hear when I listen to Dark Tranquillity. But some form of hybrid thrash has been imbued into the mix; it’s something I can’t quite put my finger on, but it works. The band is at once melodic and utterly brutal, which produces a euphoric effect reminding me of the first time I listened to Arcturus. I subsequently researched the band further and wholeheartedly agree with their own definition of their sound, “blackened melodic death metal.”
I first encountered this album via my iPod as I journeyed on a three-hour flight across Australia. I gazed out the window and watched as the city’s signs and definition faded into void and vapour. The soundtrack was otherworldly, and yet certainly born of the utter maelstrom that human beings evoke when interacting with each other. This contemplation piqued my interest, and so I let the album play over again, and then again. Soon enough another city appeared in the window, emerging from the clouds like a smudged watercolour, ominously becoming more and more apparent, defined, and floridly quite mad!
The standout track for me is “Death’s Design.” The spacious introduction allows me to hear how beautifully the drum set has been recorded on this album, ringing out through the speakers as drummer Lonnie Vanhorn sets the foundation for the devastation to follow. This song encapsulates everything I have grown to love about the band: blistering guitar solos, chiming segues, and chugging passages of precision darkness. Other tracks come close to achieving this same combination such as the crushing “Exiled…Into Darkness,” but none quite so succinctly as “Death’s Design.”
In other parts of the album such as the track “Fallen,” the band indulge their guitarists Tom Barrett and Steven Calton a bit too much for my liking, and the dual guitar attack can seem a little over the top. To their credit, each time this crosses my mind, the irking passage will resolve into something meaningful and always very musical. Dave Barrett’s voice and the solidity of the impenetrable rhythm section (led by bassist Wallace Myers) is what always redeems these flaws, bringing the music back to the nihilistic landscape in which the band abides.
The production on this album is really quite flawless, and the band have obviously located an engineer of some serious metal pedigree in Scott Fuller. By their own admission, Scott became the sixth member of the band during the recording of this album, and I say with good reason. This is why their complex sound translates so well across multiple sound sources; the sonic balance and tone of this recording is utterly impeccable! I defy any self-respecting metal head to NOT bang their head in time with this one!
Voices of Ruin are currently on tour through southern California and have quite an active Facebook page, as well as their own website. Given the extreme high fidelity of their recorded product and their playing, I would hazard a guess that this band sounds very excellent live. If you can’t get to see them then check out this album; I certainly hope they decide to tour Australia very, very soon.
Written by Scott Andrews
*edited by Kate Erickson