I'm always a sucker for good Canadian metal bands. Maybe it's because I don't know of too many, but I seem to like the few that I've heard. Into Eternity is one of those bands. Hailing from the middle of nowhere (aka Saskatchewan), they mix together an impressive blend of death metal and progressive metal. 2006 marked the released of the band's fourth full length release, The Scattering of the Ashes. Similarly to 2004's Buried in Oblivion, this new album debut's a new lead singer. This time around, Stu Block replaces the departed Chris Krall, and while I can't compare the two since I have not heard Buried in Oblivion, I can still safely say that Stu definitely doesn't disappoint. Armed with perhaps the coolest artwork of the year, Into Eternity definitely held my interest, as The Scattering of the Ashes has been one of my most anticipated albums of the year.
A large part of Into Eternity's sound is the vocals. The band incorporates both death metal growls and clean singing into their music, however what makes Into Eternity's variation stick out is how they go about in recording this style. Amazingly, three of the band's four members contribute to the vocals on the album. The result is some of the best vocal harmonies in metal. Catchy, melodic, powerful, these are just some of the traits you could address to the clean vocals on The Scattering of the Ashes. The infectious efforts the band puts forth are an important part of the band's sound, and largely affect the album's appeal. However, saying that, the singing was a tad bit more difficult to get into than on Dead or Dreaming. Whereas the one could listen to the efforts on that release, and appreciate them right away, the singing on The Scattering of the Ashes is definitely a grower. To me, when I first heard the high-pitched wailing that this album contains, I was slightly disappointed as they didn't have that little oomph that Tim Roth's had on Dead or Dreaming. Yet after several listens, the effectiveness of the vocals started to sink in.
The other vocal style found on The Scattering of the Ashes, the death growls, is also very impressive. From start to finish, Stu Block again, does not disappoint. Obviously, his harsh vocals are very aggressive, and add an even harder edge on the already fairly heavy material. At times, Stu seems to mix the clean and harsh vocals together to produce a scream similar to that of Urban Breed, and Iced Earth's Tim Owens, specifically during certain moments of Timeless Winter and Out. He pulls these techniques off very well, adding energy to the performances. Stu is definitely talented at what he does, and this has a great effect on The Scattering of the Ashes.
Not to be forgotten is the music itself. As mentioned earlier, Into Eternity plays a mixture of progressive metal and death metal. This is a great combination if you ask me, as The Scattering of the Ashes contains a variety of different elements. You've got the technical pieces, the melodic interludes, simple, yet effective verses. This is where the album really shines. Songs such as Severe Emotional Distress and Surrounded by Night really showcase the skill of guitarist Tim Roth, with excellent performances all around. But it isn't all progressive metal worship. Into Eternity also incorporates some very obvious death metal influences into their music. With its very aggressive, riffy features, The Scattering of the Ashes should not only attract the power metal/ prog metal listeners, but also death heads as well. Admittedly, while listening I hear more of the melodic side of the band as there is more emphasis on it; tracks like Timeless Winter or a Past Beyond Memory are some of the better songs which incorporate heavy elements.
While the album obviously has a progressive flare present in the structure and sound, one element of the genre that isn't present is the long, drawn out instrumental sections that bands such as Dream Theater employ. Each song has an appropriate length, generally around 4 minutes long, and not once do any of the tracks feel like the just lug (ugh, for lack of better term) on and on and on. The material always sounds fresh, and with a 41 minute run-time the music never grows tiring. Though I am a fan of longer songs when they are done right (Paschendale, Heading for Tomorrow, Metropolis Pt 1), I find these shorter length songs to be easier to listen to. Kudos for not going overboard.
After discovering the band back in June, Into Eternity is quickly becoming one of my favourite bands. Their fourth release, The Scattering of the Ashes, was easily one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and it does not disappoint. Whether it is the fantastic vocal harmonies, the intricate solos, the aggressive riffing, or the consistent harsh vocals, most should enjoy the album and find at least one thing that interests them. If you ask me, The Scattering of the Ashes is definitely a top 3 contender for album of the year. Buy it now.
Surrounded By Night
Severe Emotional Distress