was formed in 1997 by founding members Tim Roth, Scott Krall and Jim
Austin and later released an eponymous, independent album in 1999. The
band signed to Century Media Records a year later and then re-released
their debut album. In 2001, the band returned with their second album
‘Dead or Dreaming’, an album which saw a more pronounced integration of
progressive and death metal. The trend continued on 2004's ‘Buried in
Oblivion’ and even further on 2006's ‘The Scattering of Ashes’. Their
new (concept-) album entitled ‘The Incurable Tragedy’ was released in
Europe on August 25.
INTO ETERNITY's first concept album, ‘The
Incurable Tragedy’, also marked their first recording effort with new
members Justin Bender (guitars) and Steve Bolognese (drums). This
offering was inspired by the deaths of Roth's two best friends, brothers
who succumbed to cancer within two months of one another. To make
matters worse, when the band began demoing new material shortly after
the completion of the Scattering tour -- a star-making year of shows
that saw the band perform alongside such internationally renowned acts
as Dream Theater, Lamb of God, Megadeth, Opeth, Arch Enemy, The Haunted
and Dark Tranquillity -- Roth's father was diagnosed with cancer as
well. Showing no mercy, the disease claimed his life last year, just 10
days before Christmas.
Roth channeled his emotions into a moving and riveting
album, which is sure to propel the band to new heights within the genre.
‘The Incurable Tragedy’ features a slew of tracks with the band’s
trademarked heavy grooves, stop-on-a-dime time changes, reflective
lyrics, memorable choruses, shredding solos, and vocals that range from
guttural growls to soaring harmonies. This album proves to be the
perfect cure for those suffering from a lack of progressive metal
perfection and is sure to rank upon many top ten year end lists.
So there is much to talk about and guitarist Justin
Bender was willing to answer our questions. Here you can read what
he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com
Your new album ‘The Incurable Tragedy’ was recently
released in Europe, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of
questions about it.
of all, congrats with your new album, how are you?
Thanks! I am doing good, still recovering from the latest
tour but a good solid day of doing nothing should help out.
It’s been two years since ‘The Scattering of Ashes’ came
out, so it seems you took your time for the new record. How did you
launch into writing material for ‘The Incurable Tragedy’ and how much
time did you spend on the songs?
We spent so much time on the road for the Scattering
album that we actually didn't get to spend all that much time on the new
record. We started writing between tours, as much as we could, then we
took 5 months off to finish writing, and recorded it.
Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them
down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
A bit of both. There are a few songs where the music just
flowed out of Tim, very naturally, and just worked out perfectly right
away. Other songs, like Diagnosis Terminal, and Tides of Blood, seemed
to be works in progress for many months before we finally got the
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
‘The Incurable Tragedy’,
any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?
Well one goal was that we wanted to mix it ourselves,
with the guys at the studio, like Buried in Oblivion and Dead or
Dreaming had been done. We love the sound of Scattering, but agreed that
we wanted the more organic feel of those albums, less drum replacing and
Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?
I read that ‘The
Incurable Tragedy’ is a concept album, who
was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics and can you tell me
a little more about them?
Tim wrote most of the music, but I wrote a couple songs
as well. He did all the ballad and instrumental stuff as well, and
composed all the orchestral and piano pieces on his computer. Both Tim
and Stu wrote the lyrics, and were careful to wait till most of the
music was done and the order of songs was set in place before
solidifying the subjects discussed in the songs themselves.
Could you please describe the implications of the title
‘The Incurable Tragedy’,
what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?
It basically just sums up the tragic deaths in Tim's
life, the brothers and his parents, and how nothing you can do can
change what's happened now. It's all intensely tragic, and there is no
cure for that situation or the disease itself of course.
Do you have any favorites on the album?
I think my favorite song for both lyrics and musical
value would be Time Immemorial. That song is just so strong, to me. One
Funeral Hymn For Three is another absolute favorite of mine, it's a
total riff fest and I love the vocals.
A couple of months after the release of ‘The Scattering
of Ashes’ drummer Jim Austin and guitarist Collin Craig left the band.
So now Tim is the last founding member left, what are his sentiments on
At this point Tim has been dealing with member changes a
lot and it hasn't seemed to deter his drive. I'd like to say that he's
happy with how stable this lineup has been and we're all looking forward
to the future of the band.
Did the line-up changes have an influence on the new
Steve definitely wrote the drum parts a lot different
than Jim would have in a lot of the songs so that was a big change.
Steve has a jazz background, and is influenced heavily by that. Don't
get me wrong though, he's definitely a metal player at heart. Tim had
been writing the scattering all by himself, so he welcomed my input as a
writer. It was just hard to keep up, cause that guy is a writing
Can you give us a short introduction of the new members,
who they are, were Tim found you guys and what was your band-experienced
before you joined Into Erternity?
Steve is from Boston, MA, and was a huge fan of the band.
He auditioned for the band before Gigantour actually, because Adam left
and he knew the band was going to need a new drummer. It's well known
that Jim has been unable to tour extensively for quite some time. Jim
just did the Gigantour, then Steve took over after that. Steve played
briefly in Beyond the Embrace, just on tour.
Myself as well, I was a fan of the band and I lived in a
nearby smaller city. It was pretty easy for me to drive down whenever
Tim wanted me to and to start working on songs. However, with Gigantour
and everything going on, it took me months to finally get over to his
place. By then I had learned 18 songs by ear, so I went in very
prepared. Tim liked that I didn't have to be taught much of anything,
and that's pretty much what got me the gig. Before this I had no touring
experience, but played in a few local bands that did pretty well.
Did the new guys, including yourself, contribute to the
songs or add new elements on
I wrote all of Indignation, and parts of Diagnosis
Terminal. Steve actually wrote the intro riff to Spent Years of Regret,
and he wrote all of his drum parts on his own in Boston.
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song
is there any typical way that an Into Eternity song comes into being?
Well we definitely need to have the catchy hook chorus.
Something anyone can sing along to and get into. Other than that, almost
anything goes. Gotta have some wicked odd time signature stuff, and
there is almost always extreme tempo changes in a song. This album we
wrote in protools at Tim's house, and it made it easier to play with
You break the traditional commercial trends with your
song structures, was it a conscious decision for the band to move in
that direction or was it just a natural progression?
I think it was fairly natural. We never go out thinking
“let's write a radio hit” or anything like that. We have catchy
choruses, but otherwise the songs are against the grain.
For those who have been living under a rock, how would
you describe your style of music to someone unfamiliar with it?
A hybrid of Progressive metal, and death metal, with
elements of almost every type of metal and that melody is essential.
How hard was it to come up with a follow-up for the well
‘The Scattering of Ashes’ and what do you think are the main differences between your previous albums
and ‘The Incurable Tragedy’?
Tim had the concept behind The Incurable Tragedy figured
out right after Scattering came out, when Dave and Danny passed away. So
from the first moment of thinking about this album, it's had it's own
grand vision and direction and it was obvious from the start that it
would differ from Scattering in a number of ways. A lot of emotion went
into this album, and that may be the one main thing that separates it
from all the previous albums. We hope that fans can feel the passion and
emotion behind these songs.
How has the band's sound progressed from ‘The Scattering
of Ashes’ to ‘The Incurable Tragedy’?
I'd say that the music is a bit more melody oriented on
this album, and as I said, very much derived from the depth of human
emotion. All that Tim has gone through has been put into this music, and
I think it shows very much.
About the song writing, how can we imagine you work on
new songs, what's the typical writing process like for Into Eternity?
I believe it's been a different process for pretty much
every album so far, but in this case everything was demoed at Tim's
house on an mbox with a drum program. It was awesome because we could
fool around with arrangements without having to stand in the jamspot for
countless hours. It allowed for us to really put a lot of thought into
the songs. Granted, some didn't even seem to need it, a lot of this
really flowed naturally.
What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit
down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you
wait until you get an idea?
There seems to be a never ending flow of musical ideas,
so that part is not too hard, especially with a writer like Tim. And
yes, the music comes first, and then the vocals/lyrics get written to
suit the music.
How did the recording process proceed this time, did you
work differently than on previous albums and how much time did you spend
in the studio?
The recording process was pretty similar. The biggest
difference being that since Steve lives in Boston, the material was
written, sent to him, and he wrote his parts and then came to Regina.
The recording process from there was normal, except that we didn't fully
rehearse much of it as a band before laying it down. We spent a good
month in the studio before we went out with Symphony X, then we came
back and I spent about a 100 hours probably mixing it with Grant, then
Tim came in and did the final tweaks and levels.
Who was responsible for the production, and did
you run into any difficulties?
We worked with Grant Hall at Touchwood, and we all kind
of helped out with the production of the album. Tim had a very solid
idea of how he wanted a lot of parts to sound and stick out and flow.
Have you received any feedback on the album yet?
I have seen some previews of reviews we've gotten in some
big magazines and webzines, and it's all been absolutely amazing so far.
I've been blown away.
Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your
music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that
Well you write the music that you like to hear, and that
you're passionate about. If everyone else likes it though, that is
amazing. I love getting the good feedback from any source. Of course you
have your haters as well, and that's all cool too. You can't please
everyone, but at least you can please yourself and others seem to dig
what we do. It's all good.
Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or
would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?
I'm completely happy with the album, I think the songs
are all fantastic.
What about the CD are you most proud of?
That's hard to say. I'm very proud of the whole thing!
Every end of it sounds great to me, and it has been very rewarding to be
a part of it.
I’d like to talk about your personal goals nowadays,
specifically as a guitar player. Is there a particular area in your
playing that you are still working on?
There is always new stuff for myself or Tim to learn. I'm
trying to get my arpeggios smoother and just lead styles in general.
Tim's been working on mastering as many different scale modes as he can
in the last while. I tend to learn a lot myself, just from what he
learns. The guy is an unreal player but he never is satisfied, always
has to keep learning.
Which song is your favorite one to play live? Which song
do you find is the most challenging one to play live?
My favorites are Splintered Visions and Elysium Dream...
and from the new album, Spent Years of Regret, so far. Most challenging
song.... maybe Time Immemorial or Diagnosis Terminal. But that's
partially because they're new. They get easier every day. None of the
songs are very “easy” though, so it's definitely a challenge every
night, in a very fun sort of way.
Who are your greatest influences - both in terms of
composition, as well as your guitar-playing?
John Petrucci for playing and composition, I've always
dug Jon Shaffer from Iced Earth's ability to compose a song. Yngwie is
the cleanest speed picker I've ever heard, I'd love to play more like he
does. JP is the man though, that guy can play anything and everything
and play it well, and with feel, and he can write great songs as well.
Tracking back a little bit, when you were just getting
started out with playing the guitar, you obviously put in quite a few
hours honing your technique. What was your practice routine like,
especially during that period and compared to now?
I think maybe my practice routine was a little better
when I first started out. I've worked at curing that over the past few
years though, I try to put in at least an hour a day if not more.
Sometimes after a tour I'll take a bit of downtime, but I like to
woodshed as much as I can find the time for.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of
things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?
What are you personally into?
Well I'm personally a very a introverted type of guy, and
I like a lot of nerdy sci fi stuff. Star Trek and all that. That
definitely does not go for the rest of the band, I'm definitely on my
own in that regard. Hahaha I'd rather sit at my computer, or with a
guitar, than go out and party most nights.
What have been the highlights and low points throughout
Touring with some of my favorite bands, especially Dream
Theater, is the ultimate high point. As well as going to Japan. Being
broke all the time is really the only low point about being a career
musician, but to me it's totally worth it because I love what I do and
you can't buy this kind of life experience.
With such a big fusion of styles in your music, are there
any particular bands who’ve been a big influence in your song writing,
metal or otherwise?
Well it's kind of always been that many different styles
influenced us to write one style that uses all those different
influences. As far as fusion of styles, bands like Acid Bath and Fear
Factory were good early influences towards that idea of playing
different styles at the same time.
Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one
that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?
At a young age, Master of Puppets. Later on, when I was
actually playing music, I'd say Dream Theater’s “Scenes From a Memory”
was one of the biggest.
I think Into Eternity has surpassed everyone’s
expectations but Tim had big dreams, to tour with big bands, and he has
made that happen. I'm not sure if we've surpassed his original dreams
just yet though, he's got big plans. The most rewarding thing about
playing in this band is just being able to hit the road, and do
something I love every night of my life, in a different city. Seeing the
world is something most people don't get to do and I love it!
How would you describe your own music and what are your
I listen to many different kinds of music, from Nick Cave
to Cash, to Paw... it all influences me in my life, but not necessarily
in my music. Not in into eternity really. I kinda think that some day
I'd like to write an obscure album of just whatever kind of stuff comes
to mind, and I'm sure those other odd non-metal influences would shine
through more in something like that. That's a long way off for me
What can we expect from Into Eternity in the near future,
any touring plans?
We pretty much always have touring plans. We hope to get
over to Europe ASAP, and in 2009 we will definitely go out and do a
headlining run of the USA. It feels like the time is right.
Where do you see the band going within the next 5 years,
and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next
Hopefully more headlining, we seem to agree that that's
the future right there. We'll still take support slots of course,
there's still many wicked bands we'd love to hit the road with. I think
the next album will be a little more open context. Not exactly “anything
goes” but definitely going to tread some new water I'm sure. We have
only barely started writing for it, but we've got some great ideas in
the works already.
Any last statement?
I hope everyone out there is digging the new album! We're
very proud of it and we put our hearts on our sleeves with this one –
hope everyone can feel it in the music! Thanks for the interview, take
Thanks for your time.
Current members :
Block − Clean, Death, and black Vocals (2005−present)
Tim Roth − Guitar, Backing Clean, and Death Vocals (1997−present)
Justin Bender − Guitar (2006−present)
Troy Bleich − Bass, Backing Clean, and Death Vocals (2004−present)
Steve Bolognese − Drums (2006−present)
Former members :
Austin − Drums and Death Vocals (1997−2007)
Chris Eisler − Guitar (1999)
Christopher McDougall − Keyboards (1999−2001)
Scott Krall − Bass and Backing Vocals (1997−2005)
Daniel Nargang − Guitar, Clean and Death Vocals (2001)
Chris Krall − Clean and Death Vocals (2003-2004)
Rob Doherty − Guitar and Death Vocals (2003−2005)
Collin Craig − Guitar (2006)
Dean Sternburger − Vocals (2004)
Adam Sagan - DRUMs (2005)
Into Eternity (1999)
Dead or Dreaming (2001)
Buried in Oblivion (2004)
The Scattering of Ashes (2006)
The Incurable Tragedy (2008)