REVIEW: INTO ETERNITY – “The Sirens”
Into Eternity hit an extended artistic high point in the mid aughts on the strength of two solid releases with the core lineup of founding member Tim Roth (guitars/vocals), along with Stu Block (vocals) and Troy Bleich (bass/vocals). Met with favorable reviews, 2006’s ‘The Scattering of Ashes’ and 2008’s ‘The Incurable Tragedy’ set the table for a bright future, before things went awry. When Roth sat out of the band’s 2008 tour due to personal reasons, it set off a series of setbacks, including the departure of vocalist extraordinaire Block in 2013 to pursue a well-deserved opportunity to front Iced Earth.
Originally announced in 2015, the independently released ‘The Sirens’ finally lands on August 3rd. With Roth at the helm and excellent new vocalist Amanda Kiernan, who originally filled in for Block as a touring vocalist back in 2013, in tow, the band is poised for a resurgence. Boasting 6 brand new tracks plus 2 re-recorded singles from 2011 and 2012, the band finds their footing through a set of rock solid tunes firmly entrenched in their signature sound.
The epic title track announces its intentions via an atmospheric acoustic piano and strings soundscape that perfectly compliments the fantastically nautical themed cover art. Around the two-minute mark, an angular, harmonic minor guitar-led transition chockfull of synchronous hits and double-kick drums breaks the song open. Moving through a wide array of metallic styles, “The Sirens” highlights the band’s ability to seamlessly blend a mix of power, death and progressive influences into a single package. This is characteristic of the best progressive metal bands, particularly ones on the more extreme end of the spectrum, but I’ve always thought that Into Eternity’s focus on melodic fist-raising power-metal inflected choruses was the rug that really tied the room together.
Under Kiernan’s watch, the choruses do soar. She expertly growls, screams and sings with technicality and conviction, and easily earns her place in the lineup. Nowhere is this illustrated better than on “Fringes of Psychosis” and “This Frozen Hell.” Her gritty alto in particular leaves its distinct stamp on these standout tracks that are equal parts melodic and aggressive. Her voice is the anchor that glues together the somehow cohesive chaos, as Roth and co-guitarist Matt Cuthberson generously riff, shred, fingerpick acoustic guitars and harmonize their way through.
Elsewhere, “Sandstorm,” serves as a reminder that Roth and Bleich are also decent singers in their own right. On a tune originally released as a single featuring vocals by Block, all three voices effectively blend over elastic riffs, and provide another record high point.
While the record largely succeeds, there are flaws; most notably in the less than stellar production. Drummer Bryan Newbury is a powerhouse throughout, but the drum mix is particularly one-dimensional. Similarly, while I’ve always admired fantasy themes as analogies for real life tribulations, the lyrics can occasionally be a bit underwhelming, as is the case of a song like “Fukushima” that almost borders on parody. This is particularly evident when compared to the weighty and moving concept of their previous record ‘The Incurable Tragedy’
Record closer, “The Scattering of Ashes pt. 2,” is a spare ballad that manages to sound epic despite its focus and efficiency. Kiernan’s voice floats beautifully over fragile, fingerpicked acoustic guitar and strings, and gently winds down the record in an effective and somewhat unexpected way.
Whether or not you succumb to the lure of the siren song largely depends on how you feel about Into Eternity’s frenetic genre defying sound. Their long awaited new record ‘The Sirens’ is a consistent, solid and occasionally excellent entry in their catalogue.