Released: 2008, Century Media Records
Reviewer: The Crimson King
In this election year here in the USA, we are all hearing the candidates proclaim we need someone who will “bring people together”, “cross divided lines” and “create unity”. If that was the sole requirement of the job then Tim Roth and the boys of Into Eternity would win in a landslide. Into Eternity have spent the greater part of the decade mixing up their own recipe of genre bending metal. Take two parts melodic death, two parts progressive, one part thrash, add a pinch of black metal, and a dash of 80’s Judas Priest, and stir. What you wind up with is a sound that appeals to any devotee of the aforementioned genres. If you are a fan of all of the above listed genres, you wind up with a musical cacophony that is an orgy for your eardrums.
THE INCURABLE TRAGEDY comes as the follow up to the band’s much deserved success of their 2006 release, THE SCATTERING OF ASHES. The band managed to move over 100,000 copies of that release. But what is impressive about that is not the sales figure itself, but how they managed to attain it. There were no “hit singles” from the album, no inclusion of any of the songs on “guitar hero” or “rock band” and no massive promotional campaign. They did it the old fashioned way, non stop hard work and touring. The band jumped on every tour that they could. They opened for acts ranging from Swedish death metalers Dark Tranquillity and The Haunted, to progressive powerhouses Dream Theater and Symphony X. They even provided the opening entertainment for Tobias Sammet’s power/pop metal act Edguy.
It is important to understand their past few years when listening to THE INCURABLE TRAGEDY. While at first listen the album may seem not to differ much from the formula of the past few releases, you do begin to notice a lasting influence that must have been provided by touring with such well regarded and seasoned veterans of their respective genres. THE INCURABLE TRAGEDY marks another set of line-up changes for the band (which has happened with every release to date) and sees the inclusion of a new guitarist, Justin Bender, and new drummer Steve Bolognese into the fold. Bender’s addition allows Roth more creative freedom with the songs, and provides for more rapid fire changes in both tempo and direction throughout the album. Bolognese, along with bassist Troy Bleich, lay down an impressive rhythmic backdrop to the offering, carrying the tempo changes with chops that, at times, are reminiscent of Portnoy and Myung. Vocalist Stu Block shows measured improvement from A SCATTERING OF ASHES, and is in top form, making his transitions from Halford-esque screams, to Dani Filth screeching; from deep death metal growls a la Chris Barns, to velvety clean choruses, feel effortless. As if the schizophrenic vocals of Block were not enough, guitarist Roth also adds yet another vocal style to the mix.
The album itself is the band’s first foray into writing a conceptual piece. The lyrical themes are inspired by the loss of Roth’s two best friends, and his father, who all lost their battle with cancer. Each individual’s passing is memorialized on the album with a musical piece that takes its name from the album title (The Incurable Tragedy Part I, II and III) and is post scripted with their date of passing. You can tell that great care was taken by Roth with these tracks, and each proves to be a moving, and at times heart wrenching, composition, especially Part III (the only instrumental of the 3) which marks the passing of his father, and fittingly ends the album.
The remaining songs tread a more familiar path, and provide some of the best material Roth has composed. The lead single “Diagnosis Terminal” takes the listener a three and an half minute journey through about 6 different sub genres of metal. Starting with a blasting dose of death metal, the song immediately switches to a chorus so catchy that it is permanently imbedded in the listener’s mind after hearing it once. The song proceeds to head into roughly 6 or 7 more tempo changes with sections reminiscent of everything from Slayer to Sentenced, and delivers a breakdown that was stolen from the Dream Theater playbook, Bill Belichick style. Other standouts include “Tides of Blood”, “Indignation”, and “Time Immemorial”, all of which also feature the same rapid fire tempo and genre changes coupled with unforgettable choruses. If there is anything negative to say about the album it would be that sometimes the band gets a bit too adventurous for their own good. In songs like “One Funeral Hymn for Three” unnecessary musical transitions are done smack dab in the middle chorus, making an otherwise fantastic song feel disjointed.
Overall, Into Eternity has managed to succeed on every level with THE INCURABLE TRAGEDY. They have provided a conceptual piece in which the individual songs stand on their own, and also work together to create a greater whole. The band has toured with many of the masters, and has clearly benefited from this. The result is the band’s most mature and concise sounding record to date. They have produced an album that will be sure to please die hard devotees to many of the different genres of metal. While I can’t cast my ballot for Tim Roth and Co. this November, there is a real good possibility they will be getting my vote in December for the 2008 album of the year.