The Incurable Tragedy by Into Eternity
Release date : August 2008
Reviewed by Mark Fisher
Within modern Metal's sphere, Into Eternity mainman and principal songwriter Tim Roth can either be deemed the most inspired, or the most haunted musician. Roth tackled his mother's passing via Into Eternity's 2006 masterpiece The Scattering of Ashes, and that's how the album was mainly brought to life. Likewise, its successor The Incurable Tragedy, the group's inaugural concept album, tackles similar themes. In April 2008, Into Eternity unveiled details regarding the opus. On September 21st 2006 and November 10th, two of Roth's best friends, brothers Dave and Danny Stephenson, succumbed to cancer. Shortly following the conclusion of the Scattering tour, a year which had seen the group share the stage with the likes of Megadeth, Lamb of God, Arch Enemy, The Haunted, Dream Theater, Opeth and Dark Tranquillity, Roth's father was diagnosed with cancer. Ten days prior to 2006's Christmas on December 15th, cancer claimed the life of Roth's father. Consequently, Roth channelled his emotions into creating Into Eternity's fifth full length. As is evident within the material itself, the situation has profoundly affected Roth's life.
Material was demoed upon Roth's computer, with the man's living room forming a studio. At Touchwood Studios in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, The Incurable Tragedy was recorded, mixed and mastered. By Grant Hall and Johnny Gasparic, the album was produced and engineered. Additionally, Hall handled mixing and mastering, and assistance in mixing was given by guitarist Justin Bender. Additional ProTools editing was spearheaded by Tyler Kuntz and Bender, whereas the album's cover artwork was yet again designed by Mattias Norén (Evergrey, Epica, Stratovarius). The Incurable Tragedy is the first album to feature the contributions of Bender, and drummer Steve Bolognese.
That same April, an unmastered rough mix of “Diagnosis Terminal” surfaced via the group's official MySpace page. From early that month to early May 2008, the group supported Symphony X across North America, and Epica provided additional support. In mid May, Into Eternity performed at three Japanese dates as part of the Extreme the Dojo 20 tour, pairing the outfit alongside At the Gates, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mayhem and Pig Destroyer. In early June, mixing was completed. On June 13th, material lifted from the album was premiered on Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada's 91.3 FM CJTR Regina Community Radio. Later that month, “Diagnosis Terminal”'s album version was made available for streaming via the group's MySpace. During mid July, The Incurable Tragedy's artwork and track listing was revealed. With director Craig Bernard (Theory of a Deadman), a music video was filmed in support of “Time Immemorial”. From mid to late August, Into Eternity was part of the Summer Slaughter Canada tour package with the likes of Necrophagist, Dying Fetus, Beneath the Massacre, Neuraxis, Whitechapel, Veil of Maya, Divinity, and Common Grave.
Musically speaking, Into Eternity has always proved difficult to categorise - as much ample reliance is placed upon Extreme Metal as is placed upon Progressive music's heavier tendencies. Upon most Into Eternity full lengths, erratic time changes and bombastic melodies co-exist, and this is particularly evident upon The Incurable Tragedy. Albeit not wholly unlike material by the likes of Norma Jean, Underoath, and The Dillinger Escape Plan, the album is seamless, more epic in stature, and will appeal to those who take delight in hard music. Complex and spasmatic, The Incurable Tragedy nonetheless employs more palatable grooves which seize your focus during each and every correct juncture.
Fundamentally, The Incurable Tragedy observes through the eyes of an individual afflicted with cancer, and chronicles the journey from diagnosis to death. Each respective track aids the concept, though a few highlight numbers surface; without the concept's support even, these specific tracks could nonetheless prosper. Of these tracks, “Spent Years of Regret” is one such number. Given the track's title, its role as part of the actual concept is self-explanatory. However, “Spent Years of Regret”'s musically accessible nature breaks through the genre's very confines, and the composition could potentially pique the curiosity of those who, in usual circumstances, wouldn't investigate music with such a hardened edge. “The Incurable Tragedy II (November 10, 2006)” (part of a trilogy of compositions which, throughout The Incurable Tragedy, underpin the concept) is another such number, and boasts a more acoustic nature, not to mention extremely passionate, potent vocals from lead vocalist Stu Block. “Indignation” additionally compliments this sentiment, and exhibits a slightly more Progressive facet. The track maintains the aforementioned accessible components, nonetheless.
Mostly, The Incurable Tragedy takes quite some time to fully comprehend. Heavy both lyrically and musically, the album, whilst initially likeable, heightens towards classic status over the course of time. Themes and feelings course through the record's veins, and whomever has lost a loved one to cancer will experience empathy. Gradually, Into Eternity have placed themselves upon Metal's map. The Incurable Tragedy cements their status as an island between genres - an island where a unique race of individuals thrive under thoughtful and talented skies.