Released: 2006, Century Media
I realize that two years is not a long time to wait for a new album, especially when I’m still waiting on Testament’s follow-up to 1999’s “The Gathering”, but I’ll be damned if Into Eternity’s, THE SCATTERING OF ASHES hasn’t been one of my most anticipated albums. I found the band, or the band found me, through 2002’s DEAD OR DREAMING sophomore effort. The Century Media reissue sitting on the shelf, begging me to buy it, especially with the references to both Death and Dream Theater on the sticker on the front. Needless to say, I’ve been a fan ever since and was absolutely floored with 2004’s BURIED IN OBLIVION, which still remains in my listening rotation (the album has been in my carrying case since 2004).
The constant touring that followed the aforementioned BURIED IN OBLIVION saw the band touring throughout most of 2005, being on much of the bigger North American metal tours. The band really proved themselves as true road dogs, I mean, they came through my town at least 5 times last year and most bands don’t come here., though I guess it helps that the band are from the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan. So, coming off all that touring and what seemed to be an endless supply of temporary musicians (there’s only 2 returning members from BURIED IN OBLIVION, one of whom is only being used as a session musician) the band have come up with the album that could break them to their widest audience yet.
Now, saying that, I know the first thing most people will assume is that Into Eternity have sold out, which is far from the case here. With new vocalist, Stu Block, as well as some minor tweaks to the band’s sound, the band’s style has grown much wider. Musically the band has made the music a little slicker, maybe a little simpler, and more straightforward sounding, though there were many parts on BURIED IN OBLIVION that “sounded” simple but really weren’t. Stu Block’s voice adds much to the band’s sound this time around and has given the band a much more upfront single voice, as prior it usually sounded like multiple voices (and usually was). You can actually tell that Stu has taken over the vocalist spot, as opposed to Chris Krall, who sounded almost exactly like guitarist Tim Roth who has been doing most of the vocals since the beginning. From blackened screams, growling lows, clean harmonies, and amazing falsetto screams the Into Eternity hasn’t had a vocalist this good before.
The album doesn’t musically get started till track 2, “Severe Emotional Distress”, the first song that was widely released, via the Gigantour 2006 myspace page. The track starts out deceptively slow and melodic, before hitting the fast double bass-laden verse. Jim Austin’s return to the band (unfortunately not permanent) is immediately satisfying as his style has been a constant through the band’s recording career, while Tim Roth’s riffs constantly push the song forward, ever changing but never feeling forced, and seemingly simple. The pace is constantly challenged, from upbeat and fast thrashing, to slow, melodic and pensive. “Nothing” is the song where a long time fan will notice the immediate vocal change, Stu Block’s immediate ball busting screams coming forward like a Rob Halford in his prime; yet again, a fast verse which moves into a slick, multi-layered chorus, typically Into Eternity yet, somehow different.
To me, “Timeless Winter” is going to be the song that gets talked about the most, much like “Three Dimensional Aperture” was on BURIED IN OBLIVION. Why? Well, because this might be the most schizophrenic song the band has done. From churning death metal, to power metal virtuosi solos, that amazing scream in the chorus, to Gothenburg thrash, it’s thrown into the cauldron and comes out as an amazing song. The album continues with songs will most definitely not let fans down. “Pain Through Breathing” has the chorus that will go over amazingly well live, a slow, sing-a-long type stuff with the simple lead guitar melody. Lead guitar and an oddly time drum beat open “Suspension of Disbelief” while clean vocals take over quickly, though not for long before the dirtier growls spew forth. Things change again though, and they change often throughout the song. Thrash breaks, a slow stomping chorus, blasting drum sections, it’s all thrown in without a care in the world, yet everything works.
THE SCATTERING OF ASHES, as of October, is my absolutely album of the year. I’ve been listening to this damn thing for the past month, once, if not twice a day and I’ve yet to tire of it. While I find Into Eternity’s style impossible to pin down or give a name and have had this problem since I first started listening to them, if you enjoy bands that mix the death and clean sound you’ll have a hard time finding a band you enjoy more than Into Eternity.