For months, Tim Roth just couldn't sleep.
The guitarist for Canadian metal outfit Into Eternity would sit up at night — an acoustic guitar nestled in his arms — thinking about his two best friends, brothers Dave and Danny Stephenson. He'd sit there and conceive riffs. He'd write melodies and craft entire songs. It was his only release.
"It was very therapeutic for me," Roth said of the material he wrote for the band's fifth LP, The Incurable Tragedy, which was released last week. "For me, music is just an art form by which I can express myself. Looking back, I can see that it does seem kind of crazy, what I did."
Roth's whole world was upended by tragedy last year, when his two best friends — and roommates — both developed a rare form of stomach cancer. The disease claimed 36-year-old Dave's life on September 21, 2006, and claimed 34-year-old Danny's life little more than a month later.
"It was the worst time of my life, no question," Roth explained. "We're the type of band that always writes about real things. We don't write about demons or wizards but things that are happening in our lives, and that was obviously something we had to write about. I couldn't imagine writing about anything else."
The band decided that the riffs, melodies and material Roth had written in the wake of his friends' passing would be used to assemble The Incurable Tragedy and that the lyrics would be conceptual in nature. They'd focus on a man's struggle with cancer and, in essence, serve as a tribute to the Stephensons, who'd often join the band on tour and sell Into Eternity's merch.
"So I was writing the album, and my dad comes up to me and says, 'I have cancer now,' " Roth recalled. "Here we are, writing a concept record about cancer, and then, for that to happen while I'm writing it — for my dad to go through the exact same thing and die [nine days before Christmas] — was just unbelievable. Bad things happen in threes, I guess."
Surprisingly, The Incurable Tragedy isn't an angry album. If anything, it's a depressing one, and Roth admits as much. "There's one song about rage, specifically, but overall, it's more depressing," the guitarist said. "It's more about loss, but the melodies are still there. You can still sing along to them — you just may be in tears afterward."
Into Eternity, who begin a U.S. tour with Iced Earth and Saviours on September 21 in Detroit, employed piano and acoustic guitar for the first time on The Incurable Tragedy, which may shock some of the band's longtime fans. Roth also thinks fans will be surprised by how blunt the lyrics are. But the album wasn't designed to convey a message — it was supposed to help Roth heal.
That plan backfired, because now, Roth said he's reminded of all the pain he'd endured on an almost-daily basis.
"I never thought, 'OK, now I'll have to play these songs every night, and I'll be doing press and talking about it,' " he said. "At the time, I wasn't thinking of anything. Looking back on it now, I probably should have kept things private."
The rest of the week's metal news:
During last weekend's Carcass reunion gig in New York, death-metal outfit Suffocation gave fans a preview of their forthcoming LP, Blood Oath. The band played a new song from the effort, called "Mental Hemorrhage," and if that track is any indication, Blood Oath is going to be a monster. ... The reunited Earth Crisis have inked a deal with Century Media, which will be releasing the band's forthcoming self-produced LP. The band will begin tracking that effort next month, with Tue Madsen (the Haunted, Sick of It All) behind the boards. ...
Abigail Williams, Neuraxis, the Faceless, Decrepit Birth and Veil of Maya will be hitting the road next month for an extensive North American tour. The trek kicks off in Anaheim, California, on October 17, and dates are booked through November 22 in San Diego. ... New York metallers the Red Death have called it quits, as their members pursue different projects and pursuits. But before they put the band to bed for good, they'll be playing a trio of New York gigs — the first is set for September 13 in Binghamton, another scheduled for September 27 in Watertown, and the last is slated for Halloween night in Bath. ...
Every Time I Die, the Bronx and Stick to Your Guns will be hitting the road together in November. That tour will commence November 1 in Quebec City, Quebec, and dates are scheduled through November 23 in Syracuse. ... Fear Before the March of Flames decided to change their name; What to, you wonder? Well, oddly, they've renamed themselves Fear Before and are planning to release a self-titled album October 28. Guitarist Adam Fisher said they've changed the name of the band because, "In so many ways, we're a new band." Fear Before, huh? Yeah, that's a much better name, guys. ...
Swedish melodic-death-metal act Scar Symmetry parted ways with vocalist Christian Älvestam. "The reasons are mainly the clichéd 'business and creative differences' and lack of interpersonal chemistry," the band said in a statement. "We came to a point where the band's existence was in jeopardy because of these differences, and the only way for us to continue with an inspired state of mind was to go through with this change in the lineup." The band plans to reveal the name of its new frontman soon. In the meantime, Älvestam had this to say about the move: "After discussions between us in the band, I'm sad to say we've decided to part ways — mainly, for reasons of different outlooks on musical production and touring." ...
Bone Gnawer have signed with Pulverised Records, which will issue the band's next album. The group is currently working on that effort. Those unfamiliar with the band can check out their MySpace page. ... Necrodeath have added guitarist Pier Gonella to their ranks. He's been touring with the band the last two years but was only recently made an official member. Meanwhile, the band is now down a bassist with the departure of John (apparently dude doesn't have a last name). John is said to have left for "personal reasons," and his replacement will be announced soon.