The twists and turns Saskatchewan band Into Eternity have taken over the course of their almost 20 year existence would make for a robust article in and of itself. It’s been 10 long years since their last album but that time was spent building toward a classic return to everything that makes the band great with new album The Sirens, the first with new vocalist Amanda Keirnan. Hearing any musical ideas put forth by bandleader Tim Roth would be welcome enough, but packaged in some of the strongest songs the band have ever constructed makes their return even more sweet.
My journey with the band started with 2001’s Dead or Dreaming, most likely due to the RIYL Opeth sticker the CD was emblazoned with. Instead of Opeth worship, what I got was a progressive slice of hard rock power, owing more to power and progressive metal than anything I would have attributed to Opeth. Dueling guitars and vocals only added to the powerful sense of harmony and melody the band emphasized, something that came to an apex on following album Buried in Oblivion. Songs like “Splintered Visions” and “Beginning of the End” shows an increasing emphasis on complex song structure, and the title track beautifully displayed Roth’s ability to craft fragile, emotional acoustic pieces that inhabited everything the heavier songs did.
With the arrival of Stu Block on vocals the music doubled down on the progressive metal, with Block’s higher pitched screams and vocals meshing nicely against Roth, who went heavier even as he accentuated the melody on 2006’s The Scattering of Ashes and 2008’s The Incurable Tragedy. After such a personal album and a higher profile thanks to tours with Megadeth and a now higher profile on Century Media, Block left to join Iced Earth and the band’s future was a little uncertain. There were small glimmers of progress with early singles “Sandstorm” and “Fukushima” in 2011 and 2012 hinting toward a return to the more straight progressive metal of Buried in Oblivion, but then silence for another six years.
Until now. The Sirens hews closely to the template Into Eternity have been forging since the very beginning, melding aggression and harmony in a power/death/prog hybrid that sounds like no one in metal. The addition of Keirnan on vocals meshes well with Roth, even better than Block did (not to knock the excellent work he did with the band). The opening title track runs the gamut of sharp, percussive riffwork, grunts, roars, screams and seamlessly woven clean vocals. At close to eight minutes, it’s the longest track on the record but a beauty to open with, as it immediately lays to rest any notions that the band haven’t brought their top game to The Sirens. New “lead” single (both “Sandstorm” and “Fukushima” are on the album as well) “Fringes of Psychosis” ably represent Keirnan’s vocal talents, as she wraps her voice around Roth’s signature vocal melodies. The song also gets a nice boost with a guest solo from Glen Drover (ex Megadeth) which suitably rips.
Elsewhere the album consistently finds steady footing. “Sandstorm” is back and slightly re-worked, as is “Fukushima” and in both instances the re-working is an improvement. The music definitely feels a part of where Buried in Oblivion and The Scattering of Ashes left off, so much that the final track on The Sirens is “The Scattering of Ashes, pt. 2” which continues the tradition of ending on a lush, heartfelt ballad. And Roth is in excellent musical form. As a player he’s always excelled at articulating every note he plays in his leads, and here there’s dozens of riffs and ideas folks can scratch their head over learning for the next couple of years.
Full of the graceful fury the band has always stood for, The Sirens is a welcome return for Into Eternity. There aren’t enough bands with a sound so signature you can identify them in an instant, and the way the band puts strong, passionate songwriting first and foremost above all the incredible shredding and vocal gymnastics makes for a great reintroduction to one of my favorite bands.