Though grayed and wizened by bitter years of scathing aural abuse, my tastes never developed the way I expected. Gush over Dodecahedron; pre-order the new Ahab; “Pain of Salvation for AotY!”; I’ll be in the back row, drawing dicks on the cover of my Extreme Metal Starter Pack. Voice of Ruin is right there with me. Swapping out three band members since 2014’s raunchy Morning Wood, the boys from Switzerland are back to enroll me in Melodic Thrash 101. I’m so teed up to like the Lamb of God-meets-melodeath of Purge and Purify, how could this go wrong?

…I think I jinxed myself. The groovy, meathead riffs of “Disgust” come delivered thicker than a porterhouse by guitar tones forever stuck in a twilight zone between death and thrash. Half-growl vocals so one-dimensional that they make Chris Barnes look like Rob Halford accompany an aimless stampede of vitriol that shows no weakness and feels no pity for the poor reviewer caught in its wake. It sucks, but fortunately, it’s also a complete outlier. Having digested the whole album, it’s easier to view the opener as the base of the album, a stock for Voice of Ruin to season appropriately. When left untreated, as in “Disgust,” the music is saltless and bland. But as “Horns” takes off, it’s clear there’s something extra in the stew. The band leans into heavy Lamb of God worship, bolstered by melodies plucked both from The Black Dahlia Murder and the Finnish Metallinen Starter Pakki. The album consistently turns to this comfortable stance. It may be basic, but it sits light-years ahead of “Disgust” and improves with each trip to the spice rack.

“Blood of Religions” taps out a delicious mainstay riff before launching into convincing thrash steeped in Sylosis riffage. The Lamb of God influences remain close at hand, but Purge and Purify becomes worthwhile only when tweaking that simple recipe. Copy-catting Lamb of God is like covering Freddie Mercury: nothing quite compares to the real deal. Without that Virginian je ne sais quoi, fist-pumping charisma becomes a simplistic mix of sound and fury. “Disgust” is the worst case scenario, but “Animal Kingdom” and “Time for Revenge” also leap into that circle pit. The southern fare of the former does little to stand out, as does “Ashes of the Wake” homage “I Confess.” That particular direction peaks with “All Hail the King” and the venom and chugs of “Snakes in My Head,” but they are the only two in that vein that stands next to the divergent melothrash highlights of closer “Piracy.” Melodicism does not guarantee success however. The pseudo-eponymous “Voices from the Ruins” leans into that Sylosis bent once more, but to lesser success.

On a technical level, the guitar work is the single largest redeeming quality. Axe duo Nicolas Haerri and Darryl Ducret cut solid, re-spinnable riffs easily enough, but they alone cannot strip Purge and Purify of its by-the-book taste. Love him and/or hate him, Jens Bogren’s master is loud (surprise, surprise), but I find more fault in Romesh Dodangoda’s busy mix. They over-amplify Dario Biner’s battering drums into the riffs and relegate Edwin Bertschi’s warm bass timbres to near non-existence. Vocalist Randy Schaller commands a lot of space, not unexpected given his position but unwarranted given his execution. Despite some classic D. Randall Blythe deliveries, his ceaseless vocals provide neither the dynamics nor the legibility required to be anything other than stifling.

Despite all this, Voice of Ruin toppled my expectations of a reverse-lock jinx. Purge and Purify could be better, but it could be a lot worse. The band aren’t here to write a masterpiece in five acts; they’re here to beat chests and drop bodies, a feat they at least partially accomplish. The blend of sounds I adore, however basic, is an added bonus. If Voice or Ruin can sort out their secondary issues, I suspect I’ll be back for Melodic Thrash 201.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Tenacity Music
Websites: voiceofruin.comfacebook.com/voiceofruin | voiceofruin.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: May 12th, 2017

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  • AndySynn

    I still have a significant soft-spot for LoG circa-Palaces/Ashes (and actually think “Wrath” was quite underrated) but really, LoG have become one of those bands (like Meshuggah, or TBDM, etc) whose sound is so well-known/defined, and whose influence is so pervasive, that 99% of the bands they influence tend to sound like a second (or third) rate copycat.

    Also, if your vocalist is called Randy, you should probably not try to sound like LoG at all… that’s just asking for trouble.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      Amen. I came up with Palaces through Wrath, I still spin them all pretty regularly.

    • TheCurlyMetalhead

      Reclamation is one of their best songs if not the best imho :D

    • Sean Sky

      LoG were one of my early introductions to “harder” metal. Definitely still appreciate them.

    • Hammersmith

      Palaces/Ashes were decent albums, for sure

    • hubcapiv

      **Upvotes for “Wrath is underrated.”**

    • h_f_m

      Definitely. Palaces is still by far my favorite. The NAG album the bass drum sounds like the kick drum beaters are hitting a side of beef, it was still good though. The BTP album was good as well though less groovy..

    • By-tor

      The breakdown in “Ruin” is the gold standard by which all breakdowns should be judged. The first time I heard it I was blown away, even with the crappy original production. Vigil is also a killer track. Definitely their best album. Ashes is a close second in my book. LoG may be a little too much “Hot Topic” metal for me these days, but you can’t deny that they do quasi mainstream “American groove metal” better than anyone since Pantera.

  • Mollusc

    I love Palaces through to Sacrament. The sound is full with lots of intricacies in the production, with each having its own identity. Wrath didn’t really stick with me, though I did enjoy it at the time.

    • Kronos

      I’m a fan of those albums as well. I think Wrath was uneven but I still like it.

      • Mollusc

        Whoops, only just saw this. Going to go back and revisit it fo sho.

  • rumour_control

    “The band aren’t here to write a masterpiece in five acts; they’re here to beat chests and drop bodies, a feat they at least partially accomplish.” — Well written. Crisp and clean.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      I don’t know why you decided to become the official quote selector/thumbs up giver, but I’m a fan. Thank you kindly.

      • rumour_control

        AMG is an extremely rare site where how something is written is almost more important than what is being written about. In the end, I also dig the warmth from such an allegedly dark source of entertainment.

        • IBlackened

          That’s why I keep coming back: honest and well written reviews, even if I disagree with them.

          • herrschobel

            haha…same here…i disagree many many times…but the reading is a pleasure

          • IBlackened

            Oh man… Sometimes I laugh really hard. Especially with the more negative reviews.

  • Jason

    “Half-growl vocals so one-dimensional that they make Chris Barnes look like Rob Halford…”

    Aww, snap!

  • hallowed

    Don’t know why but with that album cover and title, I was half-expecting a Nevermore clone or something.

    • Ivan E. Rection

      Agreed: they borrow heavily from Enemies of Reality on the cover art (same artist maybe?) then borrow heavily from LoG for the music. Not being a LoG fan, this is a hard pass for me.

      • hallowed

        Yes, Google says it’s Travis Smith for both covers.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Lamb Of Ruin

  • jersey devil

    I quite like this. I dont mind copycats if its done well. Now I want to go listen to Lamb of God too after all the comments about them.