The Canadian quintet Into Eternity return a decade after their previous release ‘The Incurable Tragedy’ with ‘The Sirens,’ their first album since the departure of vocalist Stu Block – now a member of Iced Earth – and his being replaced by the band’s first female vocalist, Amanda Keirnan. Keirnan adds a powerful new dynamic to the band’s recordings, through a range of diverse influences that interestingly seem to include the aforementioned Iced Earth.
The album opens with the gentle, ominous piano intro of the title track, complete with string backing. The mood is eerie and suspenseful, though the music is mostly beautiful with the occasional discordant note adding to the sense of ease. As the heaviness kicks in, the listener is immediately introduced to the Progressive stylings of Tim Roth’s lead guitars, the powerful, rumbling bass of Troy Bleich and the bold drumming of Bryan Newbury. Newbury’s drums are particularly prominent in the mix, so much so that it sometimes distracts from the excellent guitar work. Bleich’s bass, meanwhile, is showcased nicely as it takes almost as prominent a role as John Myung’s in early Dream Theater. Roth’s harsh vocals are extreme enough to push into the Deathcore vein, while his cleans have a tendency to get lost in the mix by comparison. Nevertheless, a focus on those clean vocals is rewarding, as they are glorious. Influences as diverse as Dream Theater and King Diamond can be heard, while the song also nods to ‘The Incurable Tragedy.’ An impressive array of musical ingredients, but unfortunately they somehow just don’t quite seem to fit together.
As with the previous track, Fringes of Psychosis opens with a quiet, suspenseful section, this time led by acoustic guitars with distant electric. This track showcases Amanda Keirnan’s vocals impressively, with some lines being reminiscent of Iced Earth along with the general vibe of the track that also seems to nod to Symphony X and Ne Obliviscaris in its melodic density. The Progressive elements are stronger in this track than in The Sirens, with trilling guitar work particularly reminiscent of John Petrucci.
The gentle, almost Iron Maiden-like intro of Sandstorm might remind the listener of Fear of the Dark, while there is also a Nu Metal feel to the riffs that are to follow. That aside, the track is very recognisably Into Eternity, though this is to the point where it is almost indistinguishable from the previous Fringes of Psychosis until the very cool heavy and growled section towards the end.
This Frozen Hell jumps straight in with some 80s-style riffing before Roth’s guitar acrobatics begin, backed by powerful drums. This Frozen Hell is absolutely in your face; in fact, if Progressive Blackened Power Metal is a thing, this is that thing. Certainly this is the Blackest track on the album, a feature particularly notable in Matt Cuthberson’s rhythm guitar tone, though this tone as readily gives way to the dramatic heights of Power Metal in emotional intensity. In this track, the constant dramatic shifts in mood just manage to stay on the right side of interesting, and indeed, it’s from here that the album tends to find more of its strength after some shaky moments in the first few tracks. Newbury’s drums are intricate and work very well alongside Roth’s excellent guitars. Roth’s vocals are rousing and dramatic towards the end of the song, really stepping up a notch to be answered with climactic guitars.
Nowhere Near opens with distant vocals and almost Folky acoustic guitars with a hint of Opeth to them. Roth’s dramatic vocals offset the understated guitars nicely as they weave their lovely spell. The song takes plenty of time to plumb its emotive depths before the drums and guitars become more forceful, all the while preserving the Opeth vibe. Keirnan’s vocals add a beautiful touch to the already sublime sonic landscape, and the emotive power is preserved well as rapid drums and guitars kick in. The eventual dramatic and powerful heavy section that emerges really benefits from the lengthy build-up.
Devoured by Sarcopenia brings the listener straight up, emotive, heavy Power Metal. This is quickly followed by harsh vocals that rip the tone into a much darker and heavier space. The track is similar in some respects to The Sirens, but overall is a more powerful expression of the experience. With great heavy riffs, powerful drums and simply brilliant guitar solos, everything about Into Eternity is kicked into overdrive here and expressed at its best and boldest.
A wonderful a Capella vocal harmony opens Fukushima, followed by frenetic Progressive Metal riffs, while the clean vocal lines are once again reminiscent of Symphony X’s Russell Allen. Roth’s Progressive guitar playing is a real focus and highlight of this song, while the combined male and female vocals alongside ascendant instrumental work creates a wonderfully uplifting experience.
The album closes with The Scattering of Ashes Pt 2, with its gentle, almost classical guitars, piano and synth backing. Roth and Keirnan’s vocals are powerful and engaging vocals, with well-placed string backing bringing ‘The Sirens’ to a satisfying close.
Though not without its issues, in some cases perhaps attributable to simply being over the top, ‘The Sirens’ is an enjoyable album – particularly as the listener delves deeper into it to reach such highlights as This Frozen Hell and Devoured by Sarcopenia. Given this is Into Eternity’s first album in a decade, the veritable explosion of creativity is understandable; however, fans may justifiably hope for a more disciplined offering if this heralds a return to more frequent offerings.
INTO ETERNITY’S ‘THE SIRENS’ IS RELEASED AUGUST 3RD. PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY FROM BANDCAMP HERE!