Review Summary: Whose idea was this and why didn't anyone say STOP before it was released?
Into Eternity have been around for a while now, with their nice lineup that includes people going in and out every round except for mainman Tim Roth, and he seems to pretty much run the show. After tours with some pretty big prog bands (Symphony X, Dream Theater), they seem to have built their hype very well; the only issue being their last disc, The Scattering of Ashes, was a commercial success but a musical disaster. With some more lineup changes, this should have changed for the next album.
It did change, and mercilessly, for the worse. Into Eternity were always almost schizophrenic about their music, trying to put a million things into a blender, with the result being something very weird and garbled, but never quite like anything you have tasted. Unfortunately that formula has aged, and all the dairy (the music is so damn cheesy there must be dairy in the formula somewhere) has made this recipe go completely sour. The songwriting is so completely choppy and haphazard, that the whole idea already is as bad as it sounds; here we find blastbeats over power metal riffs, a whole vocal arsenal that never actually seems to work, so many time signatures changes and weird solos that the head is dizzy before they're halfway, and a production befitting a demo record, but not a full-length album.
To start with the most annoying thing, Stu's vocals have actually got worse since he joined the band. Whereas on the Scattering of Ashes you could still, with some stretch of the word, say his growls were good, here they have become completely weak and half-assed. There's just no conviction in them; he growls for some reason (to sound heavy perhaps), but the production is so fantastically lacking that it sounds comical more than anything else. Then there are the clean vocals, which fit if you're playing for As I Lay Dying or Alexisonfire, but not for a metal band: this isn't just high-pitched, it's annoyingly drawly, and very unlike the clean operatic singing most bands in the genre pursue. Last but not least, we have a King Diamond impersonation, which is actually as bad as it sounds. Thanks for ruining the album before a guitar note even comes into question.
Speaking of guitars, there's loads of stuff flying around on that front. No doubt Mr Roth is ***ty talented, and there's some Dream Theater stuff solowise we can all worship, but along with that technical side has come the side-effect of not knowing how to actually write a song. Power metal riffs fly everywhere, but without groove or melody; they just seem to exist. Occasionally flashy lead guitars appear, but they aren't repeated or make any sense in context. And then there's the fact that any good riffs are completely ruined by the fact they aren't strung together coherently, like the riffs are birds perched on branches and just can't decide on which branch to sit. Eventually the birds are so frantically hopping you aren't surprised when those branches actually snap.
Rounding things out are a nice inaudible bass and a horribly weak drum production (god, is that actually a snare drum?), which was fashionable for Sonata Arctica's old records, but not for this. The bass drums sound horribly electronic and contrived, just improving the whole notion of this album seemingly being thrown-together randomly. I didn't know people still had production values like this in the year 2008.
If you actually still want a plus and a reason to listen to this record (why?), there is some nice lyrical content on the record about the emotional value of losing your loved ones (friends and parents), which just makes the whole musical thing seem even more painful in comparison. This could have been really great with the poignant lyrical content, but the music is just so spastic and haphazard that it can't actually contribute to setting the proper mood for the lyrics, even further contrasting the painful downward spiral this band is in. I will never understand why people feel the need to put that pain to tape in this way; I'm sorry for Mr Roth, but even the loss of friends and family doesn't excuse you from writing real songs, which are painfully lacking on here. He has really got to rethink his formula for the next album, because I am not sure whose idea this was, but for the life of me I cannot understand why anybody didn't actually say "STOP" before it was released. This album is that much of an incurable tragedy.