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Into Eternity The Incurable Tragedy

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Monday, October 6, 2008 @ 11:14 PM


Century Media

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Into Eternity mainman Tim Roth just cannot catch a break. As if it wasn't bad/sad enough that his father and two best friends all died of cancer within a year of each other - all of which served as the inspiration for The Incurable Tragedy - now he's sitting out the band's tour with Iced Earth just as said album is dropping to deal with "some important legal, financial and family-related matters" that linger in the aftermath.

So the band will play on without its founder, lone original member, lead guitarist, main songwriter and second vocalist - at least in the interim. A statement on Into Eternity's Web site was adamant that Roth was not leaving what is, for all intent, "his band." And hopefully this present set of "matters" will put the cap on what has had to have been two of the worst years of Roth's life and let him finally move on - even though the material on Incurable Tragedy will be a constant reminder from hereon out.

And the fifth album from the Saskatchewan-based prog-thrashers is a frank, grim portrait of what it's like to watch someone close to you - in this case three people - die and know there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Although each of their deaths is marked by separate somber, reflective title tracks, Tragedy isn't so much a eulogy or an epitaph or even a tribute to Roth's friends and father as it is a chronicle of their respective demises.

From "Symptoms" and "Diagnosis Terminal" to "One Funeral Hymn for Three" and the unmistakable sound of someone flat-lining that concludes "The Incurable Tragedy III," it follows the unfolding nightmare - or nightmares - with eerie, almost cold-blooded matter-of-factness, allowing Roth, and everyone else, to have relive the horror in painstaking detail again and again. This is about as depressing an album as you'll hear all year - at least from a lyrical standpoint, unless you find ruminations on "terminal cancer" amusing.

Musically, Tragedy is not unlike Into Eternity's four previous albums - super technical thrash metal with lots of shredding guitar solos, twisty-turny song structures and the thrust and parrying of Stu Block's clean-and-scream voice and Roth's Cookie Monster growl, which really sounds out of place and unnecessary here. Death metalisms have always been the weakest link in Into Eternity's sonic repertoire, and here that weakness is all too obvious and it ends up cheapening the overall effect.

Even though Tragedy is constructed as a concept album, it offers little of the melodrama, theatrics, noodly epics or superfluous instrumentals used as connective tissue that are all too common with these sorts of things - which is not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, the music is tight, direct, surprisingly terse - despite all of the soloing and Time changes - and seemingly detached from the narrative. The aforementioned three "Incurable Tragedy" interludes actually provide the only real sense of genuine emotion. The rest is all sound and fury, and a story line that doesn't so much provide closure as it does prolong the agony. And you'd think Roth had suffered enough.

** 1/2

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