Over the past 15 years, a slow, steady swarm of local extreme metal bands have codified the OC/Long Beach music scene, taking things to the next level while still maintaining a tightly knit community. Among the plethora of local thrash, death and black metal bands, one that currently stands out is Anaheim’s melodic death metal band Voices of Ruin. Going strong now for just over a decade, the band features brothers Dave (vocals) and Tom (lead guitar) Barrett, as well as drummer Lonnie Vanhorn, guitarist Steve Calton and bass player Wallace Myers.
Long Beach-based concert promoter Jason Tyler, with ADHD Entertainment, and vocalist from local heavy metal band Lazarus Casket, has worked with Voices of Ruin for most of the band’s professional career. “We met at the Doll Hut in Anaheim some years ago now, and we bonded as friends,” Tyler said.
“They write and record great music and they have been progressively putting on a better show,” he said of the band he has booked throughout many local venues.
Without the financial backing of a record label, Voices of Ruin has amassed a following, having played hundreds of local and regional shows, and touring the country with everyone from Vader to Disgorge. The band’s music is best described as a skillful blend of extreme metal that fuses European death metal, and symphonic black metal, with a raw burst American thrash energy that comes to life at their live performances.
Recently, the band’s hard work paid off, after a successful stint in Europe touring with East Coast death metal band Internal Bleeding in the Spring, Voices of Ruin managed to win the National Round of the Wacken Metal Battle, earning the band a spot to play for tens of thousands at this year’s annual Wacken Open Air Heavy Metal Fest in Germany August 2-4, which features headliners such as Danzig, Judas Priest, Vince Neil, Behemoth, Cannibal Corpse and literally hundreds more, in an international three day heavy metal party.
Voices of Ruin vocalist Dave Barrett recently spoke to the Weekly before the band’s first ever show at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, to raise funds before the big show in Wacken, in early August.
Barrett said that he and his brother Tom were both into metal from around age 11. “We would listen to the classics, Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera, stuff like that. I remember getting the soundtrack to Tales From the Crypt and hearing the song, “Cemetery Gates,” and thinking, YEAH This is what I want to do!”
Barrett said that he is proud and honored to be part of the OC metal scene. “Over the years as a band, we have seen bands come and go, and had members come and go, for many reasons,” he said. “But we keep going, even though we have to have day jobs because we love this music. We have a lot of friends in the OC metal scene, with bands like Madrost and Empyrean Throne who are growing as a part of the OC scene and doing well in their own right. This community of bands we have, it’s small but the scene is tight.”
Among the many gigs Voices of Ruin have played at, they managed to put together a now annual local metal showcase, known as Ruinfest along with Jason Tyler from ADHD Entertainment. “The first time we did it three or four years ago was at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa, but now it’s held at Malone’s in Santa Ana,” Tyler said. Also, in February, [they] did a residency at a smaller dive bar in Long Beach Thursday nights. It was pretty interesting to see a local metal band do that and draw a crowd weekly with different lineups.” The Ruinfest has become a staple for extreme metal bands that are local, as well as touring bands that take part in the festival that focuses on all things heavy and brutal.
Barrett says Voices of Ruin are huge fans of metal music, but just loves various forms of extreme metal. This comes out in the music they create as a unit. “We’re into symphonic black metal and melodic Scandinavian death metal, and we incorporate that as much as we can,” he said. “But still, we keep it natural to ourselves first, it’s not about ripping anyone off it’s just the music that comes to us.”
Voices of Ruin got to take their music to another continent, as it got its first chance to tour Europe with American death metal band Internal Bleeding several months back. “To play in front of the European crowds opening that tour was just amazing, and we stood out,” Barrett said. “We had a great time, and the shows had great crowds overall.”
Barrett said he can’t describe the excitement before Wacken, but is looking to the future of the band as well. “We will be doing Ruinfest in December,” he said. “The line up is being finalized and will be announced soon. Plus, we will announce a new fall tour before the end of the year soon as well. Other than that we plan to be in the studio making a new record.
In the meantime, VOR is ready to head back overseas to play the Wacken Open Air Metal Festival next month. “It’s been a dream of ours to play Wacken, it may not have been the way we envisioned getting over there, but still we are honored,” Barrett said. “For us to play in Germany and branch out to an international audience at a fest like Wacken, is a dream come true, and we are thankful and honored to represent the Southern California OC metal scene.”
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.