Edge Of Sanity

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Nothing But Death Remains

Edge Of Sanity - Nothing But Death Remains ©1991 Black Mark
1. Tales...
2. Human Aberration
3. Maze Of Existence
4. The Dead
5. Decepted By The Cross
6. Angel Of Distress
7. Impulsive Necroplasma
8. Immortal Souls

A rude burp signifying the beginning of their career, Edge of Sanity started out as nothing more than a group of enthusiastic kids with Nothing But Death Remains. Given their youthfulness and eagerness to play death metal music did not quite match up with their ability, it's no real surprise this album is basically a slightly amusing footnote to the Edge of Sanity story and nothing more. In their zeal to make death metal, the band's music is a fairly bland concoction of death metal ingredients but none of the spice that would eventually set this band completely apart from their peers. Nothing But Death Remains is chock full of heavy riffing, appropriate death metal subjects ("The Dead" should sum that all up) and monotonous hoarse death metal vocals with nary a variance in sight throughout the whole album. Like other longer running bands such as Therion or Tiamat, initials efforts from Edge of Sanity are amusing at best and entirely yawn inducing at worst. Unless you have some nostalgic tie to this particular album, such as you are a band member's mother and used to let the band jam in your basement, there isn't any particular need to have this Edge of Sanity release.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2000

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Unorthodox

Edge Of Sanity - Unorthodox ©1992 Black Mark
1. The Unorthodox
2. Enigma
3. Incipience To The Butchery
4. In The Veins/Darker Than Black
5. Everlasting
6. After Afterlife
7. Beyond The Unknown
8. Nocturnal
9. A Curfew For The Damned
10. Cold Sun
11. The Day Of Maturity
12. Requiscon By Page
13. Dead By Dreaming
14. When All Is Said

In comparison to latter day Edge of Sanity, Unorthodox comes across as much less godlike. While you can still hear the melodic guitar work, the music is generally more aggressive and less formidable than what I like. Unorthodox also lacks the songwriting that marks the majority of E.O.S.'s later material, as it is buried underneath blast beats and hyperspeed thrash riffs. When things do slow up, as in sections of "In the Veins/Darker Than Black", melodic snippets sneak out and do show some seriously sharp edges. Some of the other elements that add spice to later E.O.S. do appear here and there, such as slight keyboard undertones. But overall, this album just isn't gripping or strong enough to be anything but back catalogue filler for hardcore Edge of Sanity fanatics.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

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The Spectral Sorrows

Edge Of Sanity - The Spectral Sorrows ©1993 Black Mark
1. The Spectral Sorrows
2. Darkday
3. Livin' Hell
4. Lost
5. Masque
6. Blood Of My Enemies
7. Jesus Cries
8. Across The Fields Of Forever
9. On The Other Side
10. Sacrificed
11. Waiting To Die
12. Feedin' The Charlatan
13. A Serenade For The Dead

It was about the time of The Spectral Sorrows that Edge of Sanity became truly interesting and worthy of massive attention. Their previous releases, Unorthodox and Nothing But Death Remains, had moments of mild interest but overall were somewhat lacking in the truth dynamic punch that marked later EOS. On The Spectral Sorrows, the production had become immense and destructive, filled with dirty distortion and an overall monstrous sound befitting of this sort of music. Flowing tempos ranging from midpaced death stomps to the raging aggression (matched with a very beautiful lead guitar line) of "The Masque" make for a varied and good listen. EOS had improved their songwriting skills considerably and it shows throughout. My favorite moment, of course, is the more power metal-ish "Sacrificed" with Dan Swanö's clean vocals and an almost gothic approach. Needless to say, The Spectral Sorrows began a trio of required releases that included the monumental Purgatory Afterglow and the genre-defining Crimson.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/1999

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Until Eternity Ends

Edge Of Sanity - Until Eternity Ends ©1994 Black Mark
1. Until Eternity Ends
2. Eternal Eclipse
3. Bleed
4. Invisible Sun

Released as a collection of songs that didn't quite fit into the full length jive, Until Eternity Ends is a nifty little EP that showcases Edge of Sanity's melodic death metal very efficiently. The material a fairly balanced mix between The Spectral Sorrows and what was to come on the band's monumental Purgatory Afterglow. The first three songs are standard Edge of Sanity offerings, demonstrating their ability to write expressive and memorable riffs. Dan Swanö shows a bit of variety in his vocal approach with anything from nearly hardcore vocals on "Until Eternity Ends" to a grating rant on "Bleed". The final track is a great cover of the Police's "Invisible Sun", which is a subdued ending to the EP and of course showcases Swanö's interest in progressive and new wave rock. Overall, this EP is nothing more than a great add on to an already impressive band's strong catalogue. The only drawback is that you might want the EP to continue on after only four brief songs.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2000

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Purgatory Afterglow

Edge Of Sanity - Purgatory Afterglow ©1994 Black Mark
1. Twilight
2. Of Darksome Origin
3. Blood-colored
4. Silent
5. Black Tears
6. Elegy
7. Velvet Dreams
8. Enter Chaos
9. The Sinner And The Sadness
10. Song Of Sirens

The more I listen to this album, the more impressed I am. While I'm not really a fan of death metal and its monotonous gutteral grunts and dizzy time changes, Edge of Sanity completely blows away the competition by creating a death metal sound that incorporates melody, great song arrangement, and a sense of what's going to remain memorable to the listener.

A lot of death metal bands rely far too much on 1000 riffs per song and changing time structures every time it starts to get interesting. This is where E.O.S. excels as they will take a good riff, milk it for a bit, and change tempos in a very engaging manner. Employing the majority of their melody in their lead guitar lines, this leaves room for the songs to be brutal while still having an impetuus to draw the listener in and remember the song long after it is over. The opener "Twilight" best describes E.O.S. and why their style is so incredible. Using Dan Swano's immense talent as both a death metal gutteral singer and melodic singer to the hilt, the guitars are layered at least three deep, creating a complex, yet memorable sound. The aggression remains intact and brutality unmolested.

This is one album any extreme metal fan should own.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1997

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Crimson

Edge Of Sanity - Crimson ©1996 Black Mark
1. Crimson

It took forever to find this CD. For about a year I've been reading about the genius of this forty minute epic song that masquerades as an album. Now that I finally have it, will my anticipation match what the band has to offer?

HELLYEAH! This is unbelievable. Death metal hasn't exactly been known for what amounts to an epic in Genesis tradition (no, Phil Collins does NOT guest on vocals), but E.O.S. puts that paradigm to rest. Rather than utilizing separate parts, throwing them together, and calling them an epic song (Fates Warning, do you get what I'm saying here?), there is recurring musical themes throughout. Certain excellent guitar melodies pop up again and again throughout the work so it actually flows much better than it would otherwise. Forty minutes never has gone by so quickly. Dan Swano, of course, provides a ton of great vocals, from his gutteral death cries to that wonderful deep sonic voice that also shows up in his Nightingale projects.

My only other thought concerning this release: I heard Infernal before this and with the later album being somewhat mediocre, it's really too bad that E.O.S. didn't make this their final swansong with Dan Swanö. With that thought, make your local record store geek order this or tear out his spleen.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1997

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Infernal

Edge Of Sanity - Infernal ©1997 Black Mark
1. Hell Is Where The Heart Is
2. Helter Skelter
3. 15:36
4. The Bleakness Of It All
5. Damned (by The Damned)
6. Forever Together Forever
7. Losing Myself
8. Hollow
9. Inferno
10. Burn The Sun
11. The Last Song

Edge of Sanity, while being the premiere European death metal band, are quite the enigma. Every album results in a new Pandora's box of ideas, concepts, and sound. Purgatory Afterglow was a fantastic melodic thrash death album (possibly one of the best of all time) while Crimson contained but one drawn out song. So naturally expectations were high for this new release.

But the story behind it must be odd. Dan Swano, the mastermind behind E.O.S.(along with Nightingale, Pan-Thy-Monium and producer of many bands), contributed a lot less than usual. In fact, this almost seems more like a compilation album under the Edge of Sanity flag. Certain songs are performed only by Dan Swano and Benny Larsson, while guitarist Andreas Axelson contributes vocals on other songs. Sami Nerberg (guitar) couldn't even make it to be on the album. And add Swano's cryptic notes in the credits..."it's time to move on"...and you realize this is Swano's swan song with the band, as he did leave a few months later to concentrate on his other projects.

Now to the music: this isn't the most perfect album. The paste & collage making of the album probably made a uniform feel difficult as songs like "Losing Myself" are in a definite Nightingale vein while Andreas Axelson's "Helter Skelter" is more black metal. Fortunately, the album builds as it goes on with "The Last Song" creating a fanstastic mood that does end this saga on a somber, but powerful note.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1997

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Cryptic

Edge Of Sanity - Cryptic ©1997 Black Mark
1. Hell Written
2. Uncontroll Me
3. No Destiny
4. Demon I
5. Not Of This World
6. Dead I Walk
7. Born, Breed, Bleeding
8. Bleed You Dry

Let's be realistic here. When you heard Dan "I'm Involved" Swäno was leaving Edge of Sanity, didn't you assume the band would pack it in? And then, when you heard they recruited Pan-Thy-Monium grunter Robert Karlsson to supplant the vacant vocal vocation, didn't you take off your beanie cap and scratch your head in wonder? While I don't want to make the assumption that Swäno was the entire creative force behind EoS, his vocal ability and overall talent was the catalyst that turned an average death metal band into a premier act. The question you might find to be rather Cryptic is if the remaining members of EoS could write and perform a record as wonderous as Crimson or defining as Crimson. The answer, of course, is heck no. While Cryptic is hardly a complete flop as a death metal record with the emphasis on heavy and ponderous, it will never live up to the past accomplishments of the band. Karlsson aptly growls, howls, and grunts his way through the album while the band plays some fairly melodic riffs ("Uncontroll Me" stands out in this department). But it just comes off as a more impersonal imposter of the past. There are truly worse death metal records out there and for the enthusiast this is definitely a step up from Steaming Entrails or whoever is currently in vogue. However, for most EoS nuts, Dan Swäno's solo record will be more appealing.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

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Evolution

Edge Of Sanity - Evolution ©1999 Black Mark
CD one:
1. Pernicious Anguish
2. Immortal Souls
3. Maze Of Existence
4. The Dead
5. Angel Of Distress
6. Everlasting
7. After Afterlife
8. Human Aberration
9. Kill The Police
10. When All Is Said
11. Blood Of My Enemies
12. Elegy
CD two:
13. The Masque
14. Pernicious Anguish
15. Until Eternity Ends
16. Song Of Sirens
17. Criminally Insane
18. Murder Dividead
19. I Wanna Go Home
20. Damned By The Damned
21. Moonshine
22. Bleed You Dry
23. Mother
24. Epidemic Reign

In a characteristically generous and abundant show of appreciation for both the fans and the members of Edge of Sanity, Dan Swano's two disc compilation of rarities, remixes and otherwise difficult to find tracks to mark the ten year anniversary of the remarkable Swedish band is a great treat for enthusiasts. As the title Evolution suggests, the twenty four tracks are arranged chronilogically from their inception in 1989 to a final 1999 studio "for-fun" song called "Epidemic Reign" featuring both Edge of Sanity vocalists (Swano and Robert Karlsson) in a war. The noteworthy thing about this collection is that Edge of Sanity did not take the easy way out by releasing a rehashed grab bag of previously released material. With the exception of perhaps "Until Eternity Ends" (which is in fact remixed for this release), all these songs are demo tracks and other outtakes.

Edge of Sanity's early music is honestly nothing to be very excited about. Their earliest recordings are very enthusiastic but raw and basic death metal with not a frill to be found anywhere. The first eight tracks, which include some remixed tracks from their first two albums Nothing But Death Remains and Unorthodox, are the type of songs played by excited teenagers wanting to make a scary death metal noise but still lack the talent level to become really interesting.

This, of course, was rectified in short time. By "When All Is Said" rolls around, you can hear Dan Swano's progressive rock heart and soul at work, as well as the band stretching to broaden their horizons, although covering Manowar's "Blood of My Enemies" might disqualify them. That particular cover is amusing, though Swano's clean vocals don't sound completely comfortable yet. "Elegy" is another song that showed Edge of Sanity was never completely to be pigeonholed in death metal.

The second disc is by far much more interesting to me, given I have always preferred the middle era of Edge of Sanity (The Spectral Sorrows through Crimson). By then the guitar work in the band had developed into something beyond basic riffology and added a much needed depth to the music. As the tracks on the second disc show, the band wandered through styles like a cow through a meadow. A couple amusing covers also pop up in the second disc. "I Wanna Go Home" is what Swano describes as "touring like this sucks" song and the cover of Danzig's "Mother" is just silly. Towards the end of Swano's affiliation with the band as a vocalist, you can hear the band becomes less cohesive. "Moonshine" represents the last time the band wrote anything together with Swano and it's just a flatout, breakneck hardcore song. Only one song from the post-Swano Cryptic shows up here, in remastered form.

As a whole, you can see why some of the unreleased demo tracks stayed unreleased until now. Edge of Sanity leftovers aren't necessarily great, but in a historical context such as this, they are just fine. However, the growth the band showed in a rather quick period of time is impressive and more importantly, their highly regarded releases such as Purgatory Afterglow and Crimson make their development over the years more interesting. The liner notes included detailed thoughts from Dan Swano as well as a ton of photos collected over the years. As you might already suspect, if you have any degree of interest in Edge of Sanity, Evolution is proof the Kansas Board of Education missed the boat.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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Crimson II

Edge Of Sanity - Crimson II ©2003 Black Mark
1. The Forbidden Words
2. Incantation
3. Passage Of Time
4. The Silent Threat
5. Achilles Heel
6. Covenant Of Souls
7. Face To Face
8. Disintegration
9. Aftermath

Crimson II is a somewhat inexplicable release that abruptly emerged for Edge of Sanity. Originally, vocalist and acknowledged visionary for the band, Dan Swanö, made an exit from the band after 1997's Infernal. Edge of Sanity proceeded to release one more studio album called Cryptic with a different vocalist, and then issued a two CD retrospective called Evolution. And that was supposed to be that for the influential and acclaimed Swedish band. Swanö stated he was uninterested in doing death metal vocals anymore, due to the strain on his throat, and spent some time doing progressive, gothic tinged metal in Nightingale. However, something got him reacquianted with his roots in death metal and he wrote Crimson II. However, in a strange twist, none of the other Edge of Sanity members appear on this album, so in a way, it almost should be considered a Dan Swanö solo release. However, no doubt the marketing of Crimson II would be considerably easier as an Edge of Sanity project so there you go.

When the original Crimson was released, it received quite the buzz in the metal world for its daring forty-two minute song length. And in fact, it was a pretty good melodic death metal album with a cohesive overall feel. Crimson II is essentially a single song, broken up into nine segments, although I accidentally discovered through experimentation that song order doesn't really matter here. And that begins why I find Crimson II to be a general flop.

Dan Swanö has impeccible credibilty with his musical projects. More often than not, he creates impressive music, no matter what approach he is taking. But there is something about Crimson II that puts the album further down the hierarchy of his musical output. Upon realizing I had been listening to the nine tracks out of proper order and never noticing any incongruency, I have come to think that much of this album is simply throwing together various bits and pieces and hoping they gel. Crimson II also has the tendency to be unengaging and easy to tune out. It is well played, but the song(s) don't have a remarkable hook or unifying melody that brings it all together. It's like a rug that just doesn't tie the room together. There is a tendency for the music to have more similarity to Swanö's Moontower album than any Edge of Sanity release. It would seem that the various personalities within the band unit would push the music in different ways, rather than just being yet another Swanö project. For all I know, the other guys are busy with families, working construction, or uninterested in playing music anymore. Whatever the case, Crimson II suffers as an Edge of Sanity product.

While Crimson II can hardly be called "bad" by any evaluation, it doesn't ever get past the point of abject averageness. Maybe the ship has long sailed for this sort of melodic, progressive-tinged death metal, but maybe this just isn't the strongest album Dan Swanö has ever put his energy into.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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When All Is Said: The Best of Edge of Sanity

Edge of Sanity - When All Is Said: The Best of Edge of Sanity ©2006 Black Mark
1. Tales...
2. Human Aberration
3. Enigma
4. In the Veins/Darker Than Black
5. The Masque
6. Lost
7. Until Eternity Ends
8. The Eternal Eclipse
9. Twilight
10. Black Tears
11. 15:36
12. Hell Is Where the Heart Is
13. Hell Writtern
14. Bleed You Dry
15. Crimson
16. Crimson II

As time passes, it's worth noting that Edge of Sanity is starting to become one of more notable 90s Swedish death metal bands that has fallen through the cracks a bit. Although their early output wasn't always consistently good, they ultimately released a pair of albums that should stand as melodic death metal masterpieces (regardless of country of origin): Purgatory Afterglow and Crimson. This pair of outstanding releases, in a more just and sane world, should be on the tips of everyones' tongues as genre defining and, well, really darned good albums. Edge of Sanity sort of splintered apart slowly following those two releases with one half of the band wanting to stick to the extreme side of the equation and Dan Swäno wishing to pursue his prog rock aspirations. This resulted in Infernal, which actually featured the two factions recording their tracks apart from one another (although drummer Benny Larsson, who apparently was Switzerland in the recording process). After that, Swäno departed Edge of Sanity, who continued on with one last standard death metal release called Cryptic with another vocalist. Inexplicably, Swäno resurrected the Edge of Sanity name for Crimson II in 2003, despite no contributions from the rest of the original band. And now, we have perhaps the final release for Edge of Sanity, a "best of" package.

Many compilations are for the benefit of record labels, who simply wish to market a band one more time to get fans to fork over their cash for songs they probably already own. Fortunately, When All Is Said bypasses that cash-in approach and actually is given a caring treatment by all involved. The song selection features two songs from each of the band's releases (except for the Crimson albums, which are presented in their slightly edited for time entireties). The songs were actually chosen in an online poll by the fans. Then, Swäno spent considerable time remastering the tracks to give the compilation a relatively consistent sound throughout. And finally, each song has a little story written by either Swäno or Dread to give fans a little insight into the process of recording the songs. In fact, the liner notes are a rather good read and it's very evident that Swäno is more than willing to be self effacing and very open about his musical past.

The progression of tracks is in chronological order, except the Crimson releases, which are packed onto the second disc. So, as with the previous compilation of outtakes, remixes and covers (1999's Evolution), you hear the band grow and expand their sound as the album wears on. I still find myself underwhelmed by their earliest efforts, though it was earnest attempts at the blossoming death metal style in the early 90s. Even if they weren't always entirely dead on with their execution, Edge of Sanity certainly was earnest. It was around the time Until Eternity Ends that Edge of Sanity finally hit their stride. The compilation includes "Twilight" from Purgatory Afterglow, which could very well be their ultimate, and relatively concise, statement in melodic death metal. It's been nearly twenty years since they recorded that song and I still get a thrill from hearing it. The rest of the compilation catches a couple of the better songs from Infernal and a pair from the largely forgotten Cryptic.

The second disc, as noted, contains both Crimson albums back to back. It occurred to me while writing this that I haven't actually listen to the first Crimson all the way through in years. It is still rather outstanding and an impressive feat of musical cohesion to write a forty minute track (that has been slightly truncated to fit onto this particular compact disc) that never falls apart at any point. Crimson II, although obviously far from terrible, still doesn't quite leap out at me but I'm sure there's those who love the album.

On one hand, it could be argued that a fan could buy Purgatory Afterglow and the first Crimson and truly have the best of Edge of Sanity. However, the fact that a great deal of care was put into this release, from the remastering to the extensive liner notes, makes this a worthy addition to anyone who ever enjoyed this band. If anything, it would be nice if more fans would remember Edge of Sanity did contribute a couple of highly impressive albums in the mid 90s to the melodic death metal world that no one should overlook.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2012

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