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In 2004-2006 Saskatchewan power metal unit Into Eternity was a force to be reckoned with. They were on Century Media Records, on every major touring package in North America and pretty much on top of the world as it was. “The Incurable Tragedy”, overt populist metalcore disposition notwithstanding, saw the Canucks experiencing an even greater wave of popularity and visibility. Then… nothing happened. In the decade that followed Into Eternity, like so many bands of yesteryear, fell into disrepair as they lost members as well as their long-time recording contract with Century Media Records. Popular tastes and the metal scene as a whole moved on to the next fad as they are wont to, inexplicably making Swedish occult retro-rock band Ghost and J-pop sensation Baby Metal (hardly the best the country has to offer) the most popular (not to mention lucrative) items of recent memory. Then “The Sirens” was released to the sound of crickets on the M-Theory Audio label in October 2018. Twelve years removed from their last good album and a decade after “The Incurable Tragedy” the question doesn’t lie so much in Into Eternity’s innate ability as a band but whether or not the metal scene at large has moved on during their unusually long absence.

From days of “The Incurable Tragedy” and “The Scattering Of Ashes” only founding member Tim Roth (lead guitar, vocals) and Troy Bleich (bass guitar, vocals) remain. Justin Bender (guitars) has moved over to the production seat and replacing him is Matt Cuthbertson. Steve Bolognese went on to substitute original drummer Jim Austin, but for “The Sirens” Bolognese relinquished his position to Bryan Newbury. Finally, and probably most important of all personnel changes this band has seen to date, Amanda Kiernan was given the daunting task of replacing the man of a thousand voices Stu Block. “The Sirens” was a long time coming and delayed for at least two years. ‘Sandstorm’ and ‘Fukushima’ were released as singles in 2011 and 2012, respectively, when Block was still part of the band. At one point “The Sirens” was scheduled for release on much smaller Italian label imprint Kolony Records but apparently that agreement collapsed somewhere in the interim. A new contract was brokered with the equally low-profile M-Theory Audio and now, twelve years after their last offering, Into Eternity is back, supposedly one assumes, in full force.

That Into Eternity has chosen to keep Amanda Kiernan permanently in the position that she was initially hired to temporarily fill shouldn’t surprise anyone. Canada has a history with female-fronted traditional metal going as far to the eighties with the likes of Messiah Force and since 2013 there has been something of a resurgence of female-fronted underground metal in the Great White North. Those hoping that Tim Roth would hire that other Amanda (Amanda Marie Gosse from Category VI) will be sorely disappointed. Whereas Gosse has the actual high register and falsetto Kiernan is of a grittier persuasion and far closer to Debbie Levine from Lady Beast in comparison. At least there’s sense in hiring Kiernan as female-fronted metal, especially the traditional metal kind, has proven commercially successful and incredibly popular in places like Scandinavia, Germany, Asia (especially Japan) and North America. Now that Stu Block has moved on to the greener pastures of Tampa, Florida power/thrashers Iced Earth “The Sirens” conclusively proves that a decade-plus absence hasn’t dulled Into Eternity in the slightest. In fact it very much sounds like a band with something to prove.

A strange duality is what defines “The Sirens” for the most part. The five new cuts are probably some of the most technical, melodic material Roth has penned to date. ‘Sirens’, ‘Fringes of Psychosis’, ‘This Frozen Hell’, ‘Nowhere Near’, and ‘Devoured By Sarcopenia’ all clock around (and upwards of) 7 minutes. ‘Sirens’ even opens with an extended piano - and orchestral piece. The two preview singles that preceded “The Sirens” lean more towards their 2006-2008 era and not nearly contain the amount of proverbial fireworks and bravado that their new material does. The inclusion of ‘Sandstorm’ and ‘Fukushima’ is far more damning especially in light of both having been around for many years at this point. It’s understandable that Roth decided to record them with Kiernan at the helm, but that doesn’t change the fact that that space could have been put to better use for another new song. ‘Sandstorm’ and closing track ‘The Scattering Of Ashes’ are the most conventional in length and the latter sort of has the feel of a refurbished b-side of the accompanying 2006 album. “The Sirens” tackles a wide variety of subjects, both fictional and real. ‘Sirens’ is about the singing creatures of Greek mythology. ‘Fringes Of Psychosis’ and ‘Nowhere Near’ are about mental deterioriation and depression. ‘This Frozen Hell’ is a cut decrying the ungentle Canadian winter very much in tradition of Cryptopsy’s ‘…And Then It Passes.’ ‘Sandstorm’ chronicles Operation Neptune Spear and the capture and killing of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden, the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. ‘Fukushima’ is, should the name not be enough of an indicator, about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Roth’s loyalty to Touchwood Studios in Regina is admirable and “The Sirens” probably sounds far better than it has any right to considering there wasn't a major label behind the funding. It has what is probably the gnarliest production work Into Eternity has yet seen, especially compared to the Century Media Records releases of yore. Bryan Newbury’s energetic and versatile drumming in particular sounds probably worse than Nicholas Barker on Dimmu Borgir’s “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia”. It would behoof Into Eternity to consider recording drums at a different facility such as The Grid Productions in Québec with Christian Donaldson or at Wild Studio in Saint-Zénon with Pierre Rémillard. "The Sirens" is rough around the edges and it absolutely takes no prisoners, to say the very least. The Mattias Norén artwork is line with Into Eternity’s prior releases and very much cements that Roth and his cohorts never left the 2002-2008 sphere. “The Sirens” lacks some of the overall polish and gloss that its Century Media releases had in abundance. It very much is the album that directly should have followed 2008’s semi-conceptual “The Incurable Tragedy”. A decade has passed since that release and Into Eternity is pretty much in the same place they were in 2006-2008. At least they are consistent.

Ultimately “The Sirens” is very much a victim of its prolonged gestation period. Had this been released in 2012 its impact would have been considerably greater. There’s only so many people Into Eternity can reach now that they no longer have the clout of the Century Media Records promotion department behind them. It speaks volumes about the sorry state of the industry when an established band like Into Eternity, who has plenty of experience in the studio as on the road, has trouble securing a long-term recording contract. How come Nuclear Blast, Spinefarm, AFM, Massacre, Season Of Mist, or Napalm Records weren’t involved in a fierce bidding war to sign these dyed-in-the-wool Canucks? For the longest time it looked as if Into Eternity’s hiatus was going to be permanent. Thankfully “The Sirens” proves otherwise and obviously Tim Roth has many songs still in the tank. Few bands can manage to bounce back from an extended hiatus so strong and convincing as Into Eternity does here. Hopefully it won’t be another decade or so before they come around to releasing a follow-up to this kinda, sorta “comeback” album.


Released a year after Diabolic’s “Infinity Through Purification” the debut (and currently, only) album from Tampa, Florida death troop Unholy Ghost proves conclusively who was responsible for that band’s continual streak of utter mediocrity and pointless genericness. Whereas the newly put together Malone-led Diabolic went all out, and tried to break new ground, musically and lyrically – Unholy Ghost does exactly as they had done before and contents itself by doing nothing more. Beyond some superficial conceptual variations (in terms of artwork and guitar solos) this is a Diabolic record through and through – and it sounds exactly like the three records these three members featured on. Despite the adversity, the hardship and tribulations – nothing has changed for the trio, and given the circumstances that is a poor choice on their part. Unholy Ghost is Diabolic in everything but name, with all the shortcomings and defects that entails. “Torrential Reign” is a solid, unremarkable second-tier album from a band that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. It is reliable in what it does, but that doesn’t make it good.

In good old Diabolic tradition the record starts off with ‘The Calling Of Sin’, a blasting opener that attempts to recapture the alchemy of ‘Extinction Level Event’ or ‘Sacrament Of Fiends’. It doesn’t really lead anywhere, and the second track ‘Soul Disment’ should readily prove just how little the band has changed at all since “Vengeance Ascending”. Diabolic was never what you call a technical band, or a very creative one – and Unholy Ghost, its direct successor, gladly lifts from the same well. Morbid Angel, Possessed and German thrash metal are its most direct influences, along with latter-day Pessimist and Brazilian trio Krisiun that can be heard in bits and parts. The Pessimist influence isn’t all that surprising given the presence of lead guitarist Kelly McLauchlin. It is only his presence that elevates Unholy Ghost above mediocrity, as his chaotic, mesmerizing leads/solos are far more elaborate and engrossing than those of Jerry Mortellaro and even Brian Malone, although his style is surprisingly close to theirs on this record. In all there’s no progression to speak of. Not in terms of instrumental skill and musicianship, and certainly not in terms of songwriting prowess. Everything is exactly as it was before.

There are three former Diabolic members present, and all are accounted for to bring their expected and usual performance to this disc. Paul Ouellette on vocals and bass guitar brings his boorish hoarse grunt that is somewhere between Jason Avery (ex-Monstrosity) and “Altars Of Madness” David Vincent. His pronunciation, nor his lyrics are very good and there is no evolution to speak of since his last appearance. The bass guitar can be briefly heard on ‘Eyes Of Lost’, but it is content to double the guitars. Jerry Mortellaro (lead guitars) has become slightly better in the lead department, but the riffs he writes are somewhere between the most uninspired works of Deicide, Morbid Angel and Possessed. Kelly McLauchlin (lead guitars) is the most talented member present, and since he has been forced to adopt his style to the majority, none of his usual riffs are to be found here. At least he was able to retain much of lead/solo writing and he stands heads and shoulders above any of his peers, be they Brian Malone or Jerry Mortellaro. Aantar Lee Coates sits behind the drums, and his drumming is as limited, blast-oriented and one-dimensional as it was on any of the albums he was on in his Diabolic tenure.

You’d be hardpressed to tell this album apart from “Vengeance Ascending” aside from the tonally vaster production, and the dynamically richer compositions (although that isn’t saying much). Once again the band holed up at Diet Of Worms in Florida and with exception of the crunchier and thicker guitar tone, Coates’ dominant snare drums and impotent kickdrums – this is a Diabolic record in tone, construction and in the parts where it isn’t, it can be simply rationalized by the fact that this was a splinter project. The music is as overindulgent (especially in terms of drumming), busy and single-minded as it was in the previous band setup. Not even a new writing partner can bump up the trio’s immensely mediocre songwriting capabilities. Neither does the band do anything to accommodate Kelly McLauchlin’s writing talent and superior skill level. The Unholy Ghost logo has similarities with the Diabolic logo, and the digital artwork of Swedish artist Matthias Norén from ProgArt Media is better if only by grace that it is, thankfully, different from the goofy satanic/horror canvasses by Danish painter Joe Petagno this band adorned its album covers with when they were still called Diabolic.

Since Unholy Ghost was the creative vessel for Aantar Lee Coates, it isn’t very surprising that he had a hand in the majority of material present on this disc. All material was written by the Coates-Mortellaro axis, with exception of ‘Denunciation – the Cursed’ and ‘Torrential Reign’ being written with assistance by Kelly McLauchlin, ‘Under Existence’ was co-written with Paul Ouellette and ‘The Apparition’ was co-written by producer Juan ‘Punchy’ Gonzales and Coates. A promo video was shot for ‘Under Existence’, but that helped little in further expanding the band’s fanbase. A proposed follow-up to this album was announced. “Blasphemy Of the Grand Divine” would never materialize in any shape or form as the project fell apart due to infighting. In the two years after the release of the album Unholy Ghost would be besieged by the usual line-up woes with both Coates and McLauchlin taking their leave. The former would briefly initiate a band called Blastmasters as an excuse to later revive his main project Diabolic. McLauchlin would return to Maryland and resurrect Pessimist on a theoretical level, only later to join legendary proto-death metallers Possessed as a touring guitarist. In 2013 it was rumoured that Unholy Ghost had reformed with the entire “Torrential Reign” line-up, but these stories proved to be false, as it was Pessimist (who had now established a mostly new line-up based around the Tampa region) that had reformed once again.