The Scattering Of Ashes
2006 Century Media
Spun this album twice or so, will have to spin it a few more times. Definitely some differences from previous efforts, obviously the vox.
This album has some excellent songs, and it has some songs that I think might take more listens to not be background music. Overall, it's not as good as DOD or BIO, but still kicks a lot of ass.
Best songs are Severe Emotional Distress and Timeless Winter, with the latter being absolutely fantastic. The songs as a whole are very tight, and the mix is really good, nothing gets lost. First big issue though is the kick. I am not at all a fan of the sound they chose for it. It's like Shadows Fall only less good. You heard me. Less good. That's perfect English. The kick's just not natural enough and not bass-y enough. Sometimes it almost sounds like a kick and a snare at the same time. It stands out like a sore thumb sometimes, and that's also a testament to how well the rest of the album is mixed.
I've always liked the way Tim's guitar tones have been very distinct when switching from rhythm to riff to lead or what have you. The music has always been intricate, and the great thing about IE is that it has never got lost in the mix. The same stands true on this album.
The vocals deserve special attention for obvious reasons. When I talked to Stu back in May, he was talking about how the recording was going, and talking about the vocals being a big front and center thing, comparing to Painkiller-esque Priest. I wasn't really sure what to expect, and thought I would be disappointed with the vocals on this album. Opposite. I love them. Stu's range is truly magnificent. The death vocals are deep and powerful, the Painkiller screech is right on the money, and the Halford highs, bang on. He really took IE vocals to a new level, with respect to Chris. What Stu did with the vocals on this album is the very embodiment of what IE is all about, or at least my interpretation of what they're all about (I suppose you'd have to ask them what they're all about). This is what I've always loved about IE, the range, the dynamics, the combination of various influences in a well thought out manner. These vocals represent that beautifully.
One more thing about this album that I find to be a little different from the rest is in the riffs. Again, I probably need to listen a few more times and this will probably go away, but to me it seems there is a bit of repetition in here. When you record an album in two weeks, and only one person writes the riffs, I suppose this is probably to be expected. This is just something I've noticed more on this album than anything prior.
All told, I like DOD and BIO more. That's a personal preference thing though, The Scattering of Ashes is just as strong an album as the last two, and that's saying a lot. I was really hoping Buried would be the album that pushed IE over the top, and obviously it did a lot. This album should give the extra nudge. Into Eternity has had a lot of success, and deserves more. There's a reason they made Gigantour, there's a reason Andy Sneap mastered this album, there's a reason that despite all the member issues, they continue to roll along. Quite simply, that's the music, and the demand for it.
Pick up this album, you will not be disappointed.