Review Summary: Fans, you can relax. It's better than The Incurable Tragedy.
Into Eternity finally release an album after ten years of waiting. It's difficult to completely grasp why it took them so long, though unfavorable arrangements with record labels and a string of life tragedies definitely played their roles. A significant portion of The Sirens
has been written for years prior to release, with "Sandstorm" released as a single as early as 2011. So is an album full of songs from the back-burner any good, especially after an underwhelming and too-depressing-to-enjoy The Incurable Tragedy
To get the elephant in the room out of the way: transitioning to being a female-fronted band hasn't affected Into Eternity negatively in the slightest - Amanda Kiernan is actually amazing, both live and on record. And even if her voice isn't your bag, band leader Tim Roth is as eager as ever to jump in with supporting vocals (as are other current and past band members). At the end of the day, The Sirens
contains copious doses of everything anyone could like about Into Eternity, and that's what matters. It might perhaps not be quite as strong as Buried in Oblivion
overall, but it is a definite return to form after the album from ten years ago. Overall impressions include an abundance of catchy and rewarding melodies, great songwriting, strong dynamics and unprecedented heaviness (with the most blast beats on an album to date).
In terms of tone, The Sirens
borrows from Into Eternity's three most successful albums in varying proportions, differing from song to song, so nostalgia-driven fans will definitely feel right at home. While there are only eight songs on the album, on average they are longer than ever with most clocking in at around 7 minutes. That gives plenty of room to try sprawling song structures and interesting dynamics, surpassing most of Into Eternity's earlier material. A definite highlight is the mostly slow track, "Nowhere Near", which is arguably the strongest song on this record, and one of the band's best ever. Showcasing Amanda Kiernan's not inconsiderable vocal talent, the track is reminescent of earlier slow songs, most particularly "Surrounded by Night", but better, more poignant and with an amazingly emotional ending. Most bands don't have the balls to go all-out on their slower tracks in a misguided attempt to "stick to the convention", but Into Eternity show that placing two opposite extremes beside each other can lead to spectacular results - the track doesn't even require lyrics to convey the dynamics of depression and its desperate struggle to find a shred of positivity in life. Another interesting song is "Devoured by Sarcopenia", which immediately draws a comparison with "Spiralling Into Depression", though is again arguably stronger, with a catchier and more rewarding chorus melody for one thing.
All the other tracks have something to offer too, which makes the album strong overall. The problem with it, though, is the amount of material that we'd already been exposed to before release. "Sandstorm" and "Fukushima" have been on youtube as singles for seven years, and "This Frozen Hell" has been available in live version for four. In addition, we got an early teaser of "The Fringes of Psychosis", so someone who has been following the band during their release downtime will only have four new songs on this album to enjoy. This naturally creates the problem of skipping the tracks you already know in favor of the new ones, making the album difficult to enjoy as a complete entity. This effect is quite heavy with The Sirens
given how old the material on it really is, but hopefully it will fade in time, as it always does.
To be fair though, this isn't the album's only problem. Many listeners have pointed out what is in their perception amateurish production, especially on the drum side. In my opinion it is nowhere near as jarring as St. Anger's trashcan lid snares, but the more sensitive listener might find it detracting from the listening pleasure.
Overall though, Into Eternity have delivered a return that should let all their fans look to the future with optimism. Tim Roth's songwriting game has definitely returned after 2008's slump, so let us all hope The Sirens
turns out to be something like Into Eternity's The Panic Broadcast
and mark the beginning of the band's another golden age.