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mercoledì 3 ottobre 2018

Into Eternity - The Sirens

#FOR FANS OF: Melo Death Metal
Debuting its first full-length in a decade, Into Eternity arrives with a vengeance devastating body and mind, triumphing over bitter frosts and radioactive winds alike. As riffs exert themselves across expansive metric swaths, a massive sound aggressively erupts below in tireless blasting and crisp precision. This Saskatchewan quintet brings such a palpable zeal to the opening half of 'The Sirens' that it becomes impossible not to be swept up by the metal trope of screaming into the swirl of a tornado. That is, until the tropes themselves become all too apparent.

The silence behind the opening riff to the album, turning a title track from an isolated classical scale into a willful wail of animated bedlam sets off a series of intense songs that crash like waves against rocks, drawing in fleets with beautiful harmonies until the gravity smashes their cedars and grinds them into the clouds of silt billowing below the black waters. Into Eternity has a knack for lulling a listener into its accessible moments before bewildering them with the death metal intensity buffeting each melody, Homer would be proud. In this vein, with male gutturals and clean vocals from Tim Roth (guitars) and Troy Bleich (bass) joining shrieks and clean singing from Amanda Kiernan, the band has mastered its multi-tiered assault on the senses with drastic and expressive changes that build layers of emotional gravity to the band's overall tone to consistently deliver a gorgeous treble end and spread it across an unrelenting backdrop.

Sure to be crowd pleasers, the straightforward rampage that is “The Fringes of Psychosis” with its very hummable rising chorus, the blossoming solo in “This Frozen Hell” with the persistence and elegance of myriad snowflakes forming rising drifts, and the quick-paced whirl of “Sandstorm” that sweeps in like a whirl of leaves in autumn and dissipates in fewer than four minutes make for an almost perfect first half, worthy of shining as its own EP. Carnage abounds as the snare rattles, beating each meandering riff that strives to squeeze every bit of nectar out of its nuanced noodly notation. Choruses ring out with electric resonance and create sensational leaps of the heart. Though three of these first four songs average about seven minutes apiece, “Sandstorm” is not only an outlier in its brevity but also because it is actually a seven year old single. With the right delay, airy echo, and distortion, the guitar starting “Sandstorm” still opens with such a dopamine inducing deluge of fury that it seamlessly fits in this strong suit as its chorus wails out from the imposing clouds of percussion devastating the mix. Harnessing the fury of a blizzard, “This Frozen Hell” captures the disillusionment people easily have when confronting their treacherous surroundings. Saskatchewan sounds like a truly awful place to live, and the anger of the band at that massive province of only a million people gives rise to one of very few anthems for such an easily overlooked tundra in the center of Canada. Writing about what the band knows while balancing its destructive death metal gravity with NWOBHM theatrics creates incredibly catchy and fantastically hooking songs, a first half worthy of praise and sure to satisfy the devotion of many a fan.

Simultaneously denoting a turn to weakness as well as a break in the basic formula, “Nowhere Near” is a song that shows Into Eternity stepping out of the cocoon it has built around its structure throughout 'The Sirens'. A simply gorgeous song, “Nowhere Near” opens with expressive clean vocals, a great distortion on Amanda Kiernan's voice in spite of her unnecessarily frying affectation, and acoustic guitar dances circles jigs to a beautiful riff with flying electric guitar sliding in and out. This is a drastic difference from the norm presented throughout this album, but a welcome one that shows a bit more nuance to a band preoccupied with pushing too obvious a format. As the song grows, involving the entire ensemble in its eventual return to form, a great drum rhythm comes in halfway through to give an unexpectedly funky bounce to the song, spiting what was a momentary build up to the blasting we all know so well and creatively using that subversion of expectation to make a memorable moment rise from an out of character song. The band plays off this well by turning it into a great harmony between male and female vocals, the backdrop properly punctuating it to give a deeper impact. However, Into Eternity hasn't totally forgotten the reason why the audience is here, and this fleeting Phil Collins aberration falls to the maelstrom that makes crowds headbang and mosh. The payoff, while another dose of the intensity that has become the expectation throughout the first half of the album, has become such a standard that it doesn't readily impress in spite of the immensity of the build towards such violence. Luckily a solo helps to enhance the requirement, but the reality has sunk in. 'The Sirens' has turned into a very by-the-numbers album, and the lifting of the illusion leads to more disappointment as the album spins.

Here the band begins its decline, losing its novelty along with its zeal and cheapening its tone along with its delivery. In an almost immediately disappointing turn at the halfway point of this fifty minute foray, so much of the previous quality of 'The Sirens' must strive to overcome the scattered bits of overwhelming awfulness reaching up from the waters and chaining it down by its burdensome rear end. Devouring itself it in is own sarcopenia as the band overstays its welcome in these aching spaces, the general songwriting formula becomes all too transparent by the end of the first half of the album just to continue without the flavor and fire that made it melt faces at the onset. The opening tone of “Devoured by Sarcopenia” is commercially derivative. With lame highs that echo without any punch, they only annoy as the harmonies lose the magnetism they once had and the song achieves the atrophy for which it is named. Eventually, the guitars find that classical notation again, fighting against the decay, and utilize it well to give a bit of technique to the song, but its chorus is another inanimate repetition. Where Into Eternity could tier its choruses, add another layer of nuance to its music, and make memorable a bit of challenge to its own conventions, the band reprises the basic formula of worming a harmony into an ear with a sixth song on the album that repeats its title ad nauseum for a chorus.

Even so, “Devoured by Sarcopenia” is excusable. “Fukushima” simply isn't. Another single from yesteryear, this time only six years old and just as irrelevant in a brand new album, the opening is the sort of concentrated cringe that strips corpse paint from even the most zealous pizza face. If you don't make an involuntary noise of disgust when hearing that awfully sappy, obnoxiously echoey, horribly crisp combination belting out “the candles were lit for the dead (the dead), Fukushima” you have such a high tolerance for cringe that you may as well write for The Big Bang Theory because this kind of showboating is just up your alley in order to stomp on the pervasive talent that actually holds this album together. Atonal gutturals barely pronounce the title, wails that would make even a lesbian seagull cry for irradiated Easterners invade unlubricated into ear canals, and an ever-focused eye trained on the almighty dollar typify this transparent capitalization on a real world event, lest profit be forgotten. As music has always had great interest in ensuring -so succinctly put by All Shall Perish- “Better Living Through Catastrophe”, this hard and fast “We Are the World” isn't anything new or special, but boy is it annoying to hear the name of a quadrisyllabic Pacific prefecture belted out by Kiernan like she's Joni Mitchell saving the world by being skinned alive by a thousand feral cats. Metal is so well-known for focusing on tragedy and darkness, unfortunately the only tragedy in this cut is from the carcinogens released by its awful microwave dinner delivery.

As aesthetically focused as these complaints are, the instrumentation throughout 'The Sirens' makes even the most painful of moments worthwhile. The balance of beautiful guitars, rapid blasts that uphold the extreme aspect of melodic death metal, and tight deliveries all around keep this album exciting and inspiring in spite of those moments that lose that veneer. An experienced and lauded outfit, Into Eternity shows its strengths so well that they become standard to its songwriting style. Still, this album feels more like a NWOBHM band pushing a death metal gimmick rather than a melodic death metal band with the history that this group has. Granted, Into Eternity tries its own thing rather than reprising the overtly masculine themes of Amon Amarth or the Gothenburg style of At the Gates, but its maelstrom is quick to languish in its momentum, resting on gimmicky themes and tropes rather than running away with inspiration and thriving.

Picking along its depressive riff and surrounded by delicate violins, “The Scattering of Ashes” redeems “Fukushima” and brings 'The Sirens' to an alluring close. The symmetry presented throughout Into Eternity's return is found throughout the meat of the album with such a focus on maintaining structure against all odds, and sometimes against unique ideas, that the album holds itself back in places by dulling its edge in favor of planting itself into memory as a band replete with basic and catchy choruses. Still, the maelstrom from which the vocals and harmonies claw is daunting and terrific, ensuring a palpable, consistent to a fault, and overall awesome experience. Into Eternity has honed and sharpened some of its most impactful aesthetics, hopefully the overall structure can be renovated and modernized as well to allow this band to survive Saskatchewan for the next decades. (Five_Nails)