Sometimes, as strange as it may sound, tragedy inspires creativity. Such seems to be the case with the latest release from Canada's Into Eternity, one of the brightest stars on the progressive extreme metal landscape. In the last two years, bandleader, songwriter, and guitarist Tim Roth lost his mother, and then later on, two of his best friends, both brothers, died from cancer within two months of each other. Many would have crumbled under the weight of such loss, but Roth was able to move on, digging down deep and using his grief and anger to come up with the concept for The Incurable Tragedy, an epic technical metal extravaganza that runs the gamut of all the human emotions that one goes through in a situation like Roth dealt with over the last two years.
Though shorter than some of the past Into Eternity albums, it's no less spectacular and perhaps this concept album is better suited for a less lengthy, more direct approach. Instrumentally, the guys are blazing as always, Roth and Justin Bender ripping some insane guitar harmonies on the complex mind-bender "Diagnosis Terminal", while drummer Steve Bolognese and bassist Troy Bleich provide the intricate rhythms. Despite all the wild instrumental interplay that has seen the band's musical talents continually grow (all the touring with bands like Symphony X, Dream Theater, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Lamb of God, Arch Enemy, Opeth, Megdeth, and Dark Tranquility has obviously paid off), the thing that grabs you the most here, are the multi-faceted vocal dynamics. Stu Block has developed into one of the most impressive singer in extreme metal, and his wide assortment of raging, Halford-ish wails, black metal screams, death metal growls, and melodic clean passages, is wonderfully on display throughout this CD. Just listen to his gorgeous melodic voice on "The Incurable Tragedy I (September 21, 2006)", or his assortment of extreme metal styles on "Tides of Blood", showing his great versatility. Of course, having the superb backing vocals from Roth and Bleich also helps, as both of these guys also are able to mix in solid extreme styles as well as clean vocals depending on what the songs need. All three turn in fine performances on the excellent "Indignation", one of the CD's strongest cuts, and a perfect example of how Into Eternity combines complex, technical progressive metal, death metal, varied vocal styles, lots of melody, and a compelling story.
In the end, The Incurable Tragedy is gripping stuff, especially from a concept/storyline perspective, but also the album grabs you by the throat musically as well, delivering a statement that Into Eternity are now ready to play with the big boys, even though for many of us they have already been there for a few years now.
Easily one of the best releases of 2008 folks-a concept album of epic proportions that carries a message that is totally relevent in this day and age.
1. Prelude To Woe
2. Tides of Blood
3. Spent Years of Regret
5. Diagnosis Terminal
6. The Incurable Tragedy I (September 21, 2006)
8. Time Immemorial
9. The Incurable Tragedy II (November 10, 2006)
10. A Black Light Ending
11. One Funeral Hymn For Three
12. The Incurable Tragedy III (December 15, 2006)