Well, the return of Into Eternity. Where have you guys been? I was a big fan of their third full-length release, 'Buried in Oblivion', back in 2004, the year in which I also witnessed their rather astounding early afternoon performance at the Dutch ProgPower festival. Ten years have passed since their previous album, 2008's 'The Incurable Tragedy', but eventually we have a sixth full platter of brand new material from these talented Canadians, with the release of 'The Sirens'.
Well, I say "these talented Canadians", but the band's lineup has been through many revisions over the years and, currently, only songwriting linchpin, and fretboard virtuoso, Tim Roth, remains from their inception. Their long serving bassist, Troy Bleich, in the band's ranks since 2004, is also still present, while other members joined in the interim between this album and the last. So, we have Bryan Newbury on drums (since 2011); vocalist Amanda Kiernan (since 2013); and guitarist Matt Cuthbertson (since 2014).
So, what of Into Eternity in 2018? Long gone is their Century Media deal and 'The Sirens' will be self-released. And, well, the songs still sound refreshingly Into Eternity, despite the new personnel. But, I do have just a few negative points, so let’s get these out of the way first…
The mix can sound fairly cluttered and the production is perhaps a little too organic. This is most noticeable over the passages with more frenetic drumming (and, believe me, there’s much frenzied sticksmanship to be heard). I usually love a record that sounds pure and natural in its production sonics, free of too much Pro Tools meddling, but with music of this nature, with so many frantic passages... it needs a stronger degree of polish to convey a more incisive bite in the instrumentations.
Also, on occasion, certain passages of music feel too full-on. I realise this is part of Into Eternity’s aesthetic fabric, but the drums are perhaps a little too frenzied, and the barrage of super speedy guitar arpeggios cloud the compositions. It's almost as if there are some good songs in there... which there are, but these have been buried under all the sonic clutter in the arrangements… and mix, of course. I feel, at times, it would've been far more effective had the virtuosic widdling been applied in the sense of compositional synthesis rather than compositional dominance. The widdling is great, don't get me wrong... it just sounds too much "for the sake of" at times.
Okay, that’s all the negativity done with. ‘The Sirens’ is, otherwise, a rather magnificent album. The guitar work, in particular, is breathtaking, at times, through riffage, licks and leads. Stunning stuff. Roth (and new fretboard comrade Cuthberson) has excelled himself here. Newbury’s drumming, despite my minor reservations (which I’ll put down to a mix issue), is generally fantastic. Bleich’s bass work is also solid, be it following the guitar arpeggios with nifty runs, or providing the music with a resonant backbone. And new vocalist Keirnan is a fine addition to the band’s ranks. Her cleans are great and wide-ranging; and her growls incisively effective. In fact, the range of growls are nicely varied throughout, courtesy of Keirnan herself and additional guttural roars from Roth and Bleich (who also add some cleans).
Overall, then, I wholeheartedly recommend ‘The Sirens’. It’s a sheer pleasure to have Into Eternity back! This is an album of extremes: musically, from the mellow to the heavy, and the euphonic to controlled cacophony; performance-wise, we’re talking extreme virtuosity; and generally speaking, the album’s extremely fucking great (minor caveats aside). Let’s hope another decade doesn’t pass before album number seven.
Review by Mark Holmes
3rd August 2018
1) The Sirens
2) Fringes of Psychosis
4) This Frozen Hell
5) Nowhere Near
6) Devoured by Sarcopenia
8) The Scattering of Ashes Pt2
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"This is an album of well-balanced extremes: musically, from the mellow to the heavy; compositionally, from the enthused euphonic to the deliriously cacophonic; performance-wise, we’re talking extreme virtuosity; and, generally speaking, the album’s extremely fucking great..."