Acheron is one of the five rivers of the Underworld; the river of woe, where dead souls muster to be ferried by Charon into Hell. In their third full-length album Voice of Ruin use this imagery from Greek mythology to blend personal fears of death with the darkest episodes of history and fears for humanity’s future. Formed in 2008 in Nyon, Switzerland, Voice of Ruin has now played over two hundred shows all over the world, and Acheron is the culmination of their sonic development; a big, ambitious sound that demands attention.
In terms of subgenre, Voice of Ruin is probably best described as melodic death with a thrash element. There’s a definite Gothenburg influence, and indeed this album was recorded and produced in Gothenburg by Henrik Udd and Fredrik Nordström (In Flames, Arch Enemy, Architects, Dimmu Borgir). The story-telling vocals and infectious energy are reminiscent of The Black Dahlia Murder, with vocalist and lyricist Randy Schaller unafraid to play characters in some tracks, while baring his soul in others.
We’ve been suffering from “Thanatophobia” ever since we first heard this single:
There’s a strong groove element too; Voice of Ruin has been compared to Lamb of God in their syncopated rhythm passages (evidenced throughout but especially in “Rotting Crows,” “One Way Overdose,” “Dark Water,” and “Suffer-Recover”), and this heavy groove is one of the strongest aspects of their sound. There are also references to thrash and black metal; first single “Thanatophobia” is a blend of punk and melodeath, while “Holy Venom” switches seamlessly between black metal and thrash. There’s a lot going on, but the songs are structured well so it feels cohesive. Voice of Ruin knows instinctively when to repeat a motif to the listener’s satisfaction, and when not to labour a point.
This is an enterprising band – evidenced by their touring as far afield as Nepal, India and Japan – who are willing to take risks. There are passages of ambitious guitar chromaticism, for example in “Salem” and “Holy Venom,” which work because they are always blended into the fabric of the track. There are even some prog references in “One Way Overdose,” and several brave spoken word sections.
Here’s a very recnt shot of this powerful quintet’s lineup:
Acheron (pre-order now via Bandcamp or Big Cartel) has an anthemic feel throughout. The break section in “Thanatophobia” is a huge statement; “Mass Grave” is a military-style metal call to action; “Blessed Be The Fruit” is a massive track on which to finish. This album is not afraid to make every song count. It gives us enough instrumental and clean sections to take a breather once in a while from the sonic bludgeoning, but in general Acheron is 48 minutes of pure exhilaration. Voice of Ruin is yet another underrated Swiss band that have been industriously making a name for themselves on the touring and festival circuit, and this is a big album that deserves international recognition.
Acheron Track Listing:
02. Rotting Crows
04. Holy Venom
05. One Way Overdose
06. Dark Water
07. Mass Grave
08. Suffer Recover
11. Blessed Be The Fruit
Run Time: 48:20
Release Date: September 27, 2019
Record Label: Tenacity Music