Today, Into Eternity might not be one of Canada's biggest music exports in the metal world. They're slowly moving towards that position, and it's possible that they might reach such heights in the future, but they aren't quite there yet. In 2004 they certainly weren't anything more than one of the numerous bands trying to make a name for themselves. Up until that year, the progressive metal band from Regina, Saskatchewan had released two albums, Into Eternity and Dead or Dreaming, the former generally ignored and the later met with positive acclaim. Into Eternity's third album, Buried in Oblivion garnered itself a similar reaction from critics and fans alike, and is even regarded as the band's strongest by some. Before 2006's The Scattering of the Ashes I would have probably agreed with those sentiments, as Buried in Oblivion is indeed a very solid album.
Into Eternity's musical direction takes on several different forms. Throughout each moment in the 10 track album, there are several different, yet interconnecting elements. The most unique of these elements is the vocal harmonies that four of the band's five members contribute to. Into Eternity's new vocalist (at the time) Chris Krall is the centrepiece of this combination, and does an excellent job providing a lighter, depressing edge to the band's aggressive riffing. While the melodic harmonies and harsh screams are not quite as impressive here as they are during new vocalist Stu Block's performance in the band's latest album, The Scattering of the Ashes, the combined efforts of the band members is very infectious, especially after numerous listens. Of all Into Eternity's albums, the vocals found in Buried in Oblivion are probably the most difficult to get into, specifically the vocal harmonies, but if you give it a chance, it shouldn't take away from the quality of the album. Musically, the Canadian's are also very competent. Fusing progressive metal and death metal, the band has created quite an interesting, unique sound for themselves. Their guitarists fluctuate between technical melodic leads and heavy chugging riffs quite frequently, almost as often as their vocal styles change changes between growl and harmony. And similarly to their singing patterns, said progression is quite effective in creating the angry/bitter musical themes which the lyrics stress.
In terms of actual songs, what can listeners expect? A handful of energetic, exciting, and surprisingly fresh songs, ten to be exact. Of these ten, my favourite would be the heavy hitting 3 Dimensional Aperture. This track probably epitomizes Into Eternity's sound the most. Perfect for new fans of the band, it incorporates everything Into Eternity does well into a concise 4:47 offering. The frequent fast paced riff and death metal growl sections create quite an epic atmosphere which is one of the album's highlights. Also impressive are Buried in Oblivion and Black Sea of Agony, two tracks which segue into each other. The former, the album's title track, is the calmest off the album and almost entirely makes use of clean guitars and lacks drums or bass. The guitars are quite similar to Crystal Ann off of Annihilator's Alice in Hell album or Mine Is the Grandeur off of Dark Tranquillity's The Gallery album, though not quite as flashy. The follow up is not especially heavy, especially when compared to the likes of 3 Dimensional Aperture or Embraced by Desolation, but it remains an aggressive track none the less. Its interludes and bridges and varying time changes should impress fans of the more progressive characteristics that the band employs, as it is very well written and performed.
The only aspect of Into Eternity that I don't really enjoy is the lyrical element. The band focuses almost entirely on depressing subjects and themes, making it somewhat difficult to listen to at times. And with song titles like Spiralling into Depression, Embraced by Desolation, and Splintered Visions, it isn't difficult to spot such an emphasis. While such writings fit the musical elements of the song writing very well, it can become a bit much to listen to as the album progresses. To be honest, I'd like to hear a less negative song from Tim Roth, but whatever floats his boat.
Overall, while not Into Eternity's best (The Scattering of the Ashes takes the cake here), it is still a superb offering. Combining strong vocal melodies with guttural death metal screams and proggy, melodious guitars with aggressive, thunderous riffs, Into Eternity has carved themselves a nice little musical niche from which they should only improve on. While the lyrics could definitely use some work, the musical qualities to be found here vastly over shadow the rather whiny, juvenile lyrical messages. For those looking to get into Into Eternity, this would be an excellent place to start, as it places emphasis on all of the important characteristics of the band's technique and performs said techniques at high level. I've never seen this in stores, however, so you'll likely have to order online, or something of that ilk. And if you're looking for a younger metal band with potential that can combine prog influenced metal with death influenced metal, and do it well, then don't look any further than here.
3 Dimensional Aperture
Buried in Oblivion
Black Sea of Agony
Embraced By Desolation
Beginning of the End