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Into Eternity The Scattering of Ashes

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 @ 4:56 PM


On Century Media

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If the preening, posing and ceaseless wankery of English hair-piles Dragonforce are too precious, or pretentious, for your power metal sensitivities, Canada’s Into Eternity make for a welcome alternative. Though it’s taken the band the better part of a decade to solidify their line-up, most notably at the lead vocal position, Into Eternity definitely have put all the right pieces in the right places with this their fourth album. And there are an awful lot of pieces coming together here.

The Scattering of Ashes isn’t so much a power metal album as an amalgam of Priest-like classic metal, Dream Theater-like prog virtuosity and death/thrash metal intensity all wrapped in a tasty shell of new school, power metal histrionics. You get a little bit of everything: blast beats and grinding riffs, sweeping solos and staggering complexity, Cookie Monster/clean vocal jousting, lush, quiet interludes and epic grandiosity. And yet Into Eternity are able to make it all work without sounding ridiculous or, even worse, cheesy.

Perhaps the Saskatchewan-based band’s shrewdest move was to not let things get too out of hand. By keeping the material relatively terse — the longest song, “Surrounded By Night,” is the only one that breaks the five minute mark, clocking in at 5:07 — they avoid the temptation to get carried away with the flashy soloing or pointless tangents that so often make prog/power metal so tedious and overblown.

They also are competent enough composers to craft songs that aren’t just a collection of throwaway riffs leading to the inevitable instrumental circle jerk. Tracks like “Severe Emotional Distress,” “Pain Through Breathing” or “Nothing” are buoyed by memorable hooks and soaring melodies that give you something to latch onto before the band blasts off, usually with Jim Austin leading the charge with his tornadic drumming.

New frontman Stu Block’s Halford-esque ear-piercing wail can be a bit much at times, especially when it erupts out of nowhere, as on “Out” where it’s like nails across a chalkboard. But when he keeps things in check, his clear, forceful voice provides a remarkable contrast to his own deathly growls or as part of a three-headed monster with guitar whiz Tim Roth and bassist Troy Bleich, who also provide clean backing vocals. The Jekyll & Hyde harmonizing here really has to be heard to be believed.

Though it very well could have been an absolute mess, The Scattering of Ashes turns out to be one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. If Into Eternity can now just figure out how to keep it all together, perhaps even bigger and better things await.

***


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