Into Eternity

The Scattering of Ashes

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That Canadians Into Eternity have forged a consistent and inventive body of work from good old heavy metal's tired old carcass is impressive in itself; that they've done so while experiencing a revolving door membership (that makes referring to them as a "band" something of a stretch) is almost miraculous. As loyal fans know all too well, only guitarist/growler Tim Roth and drummer Jim Austin have been there since the group's inception in 2000, which means that singer Stu Block, who has been the band's on-stage frontman for barely two years, may as well be considered a long-tenured veteran by these guys' standards. 2006's The Scattering of Ashes -- Into Eternity's fourth album all around -- marks his recording debut with the group, and immediately proves that they'd be fools to ever let him go -- the guy is a monster! In fact, Ripper Owens himself would probably agree that Block's vocal tour de force here instantly qualifies as one of the finest metal voices of his generation; as he shouts, soars, shrieks, shatters a whole cabinet's worth of glassware, and just plain sings his ass off with astounding power and control. Although excellence is truly his only option, since it's his unenviable task to match tonsils against Roth's still-frequent use of Cookie Monster growls and his impossibly fleet-fingered, ultra-busy, and equally versatile range of guitar histrionics. Add to this Austin's octopus-like percussive display and it doesn't take very long for the listener to feel like he's out of breath -- such is the intensity of their joint assault. And still, the single most remarkable thing about Into Eternity's music is how immediate and memorable it manages to be despite these astounding technical complexities. Virtually every track on hand here (with special kudos to ready-made genre classics like "Nothing," "A Past Beyond Memory" and "Eternal") basks in a brilliant marriage of catchy choruses and instrumental prowess. And in a genre where guitar trickery is often used to cover up songwriting inadequacy, Roth's ability to subject his blazing six-string technique (just listen to him reinvent the instrument on the stunning "Pain Through Breathing") to the service of amazing songcraft is simply the icing on the cake. He renders The Scattering of Ashes a new high-water mark in Into Eternity's already stellar career, and possibly in early-2000s metal itself. A masterful achievement.

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