Dan Swano
Moontower


5.0
classic

Review

by Karl V.H. USER (85 Reviews)
November 9th, 2008 | 208 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A remarkable solo album that breathes new life into progressive death metal.

Dan Swanö could easily be compared to that guy you sit next to in the office, as funny as that sounds. You know the guy I’m talking about; he’s been working with the company for 20 years, punctually fifteen minutes early every morning, many certificates of achievements hanging around his cubicle, everybody wants to use him as a reference on their work, and so on. Maybe Dan Swanö doesn’t quite compare to the popular guy in the description above, but his resume in the underground heavy metal world is about as long as the extra paper that the crappy printer in the office spits out in a given year (we’re talking about a lot of paper here).

Besides his fabulous work with Edge of Sanity for about ten years or so, he was also part of Nightingale, Katatonia, Ribspreader, while also finding time to work with such genre defining side projects such as Bloodbath (drums, guitar) and Infestdead (guitars, bass, drum programming) to give a few examples. In a way, it’s almost hard to decipher between his main bands and side projects because of his constant juggling of priorities. On top of all this, Swanö is also a renowned studio wiz. Besides doing the production and engineering for his own projects, he has also lent a helping hand to a mountains worth of metal bands, most notably Coldworker, Dissection, Hail of Bullets, Marduk, Nasum, Opeth, Pain, and Vinterland to briefly skim a long, long list. With all this and the lending out of his many individual instrumental talents to another long list of metal bands as well, how the hell does this guy sleep or even find the time for his family life, let alone to find the time to create a massive solo album after being booted from his own band, Edge of Sanity, in 1997? All of this experience combined with the many trudging years in the metal underground have equalled up to a solo album that is both unique and a breath of fresh air in the progressive death metal genre.

With a nice concise eight song set list that has no filler and an abundance of diversity from his many influences and learned ways in the industry, Moontower showcases many fine qualities that Dan Swanö has built over the years. To state the obvious, Swanö has not only written and arranged everything on this disc but has also performed every single instrument on the album while producing and engineering the disc in his home studio in Sweden. Why this is worth mentioning is because of the long, gruelling process that this must have taken in accomplishing; especially an album of this calibre. Everything on this disc works so well together. No instrument stands above another while trade-offs between specific instruments (which I will discuss later) give the disc a great variation, keeping the listener in check for the whole entire ride. Swanö’ signature progressive, mid tempo, death metal guitar riffs provide a great balance against the layers of uplifting melodies and well executed low end, churning out some very cohesive song writing. Swanö, not as recognized for his drumming abilities, provides the perfect amount of groovy rhythms and tight fills that manage to fit the songs flow and also providing an excellent stabilizer in maintaining the albums consistency. Swanö’ vocals aren’t to shabby either, showcasing why he has one of the best death metal growls in the genre. He is also quite capable of doing a complete one-eighty with his vocals and singing in a light hearted croon much like Mikael Åkerfeldt’ beautiful range in Opeth. The instrument trade-offs between the guitar leads and synthesizer keys (that were mentioned above) play into each song on the disc. Rather then do the norm by incorporating two lead guitarists that play off each other, Swanö has opted to change things up a bit. Instead the listener will notice that the keys and guitar lines play off each other instead, making parts of this disc sound very much like Rush meets Edge of Sanity. The synthesizer key leads are an obvious highlight to this disc; adding lush layers to the crunchy sound of the guitars that will either turn the listener off completely if they are not fond of 70’ progressive rock, or like me, will completely envelop the listener in a world of bliss.

Picking a favourite from this disc is tough considering every song on Moontower has something unique to offer. The instrumental song ‘Encounterparts’ would probably top my list if I had to pick one song, simply for its dramatic contrasts that are exuberantly performed through many sweet interplays between the melodic guitar hooks, 70’ inspired synth keys, and haunting clean guitar lines. Regardless of favourites on this disc, the whole album works as a whole. It’s hard to come by a solo album these days that makes the listener want to replay the disc after the final notes have passed. Sadly, this is Dan Swanö’ only solo album to date. It’s not that Edge of Sanity’ latest works, such as Crimson II, haven’t been up to par, but it just doesn’t come close to possessing the unique qualities that this album holds. Here’s hoping that Swanö does an album like this again where he is free to do whatever his mind sets his sights on.



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user ratings (225)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
Laurie J. (5)
It's rare that you see music fuelled by pure emotion these days, and Moontower is the perfect embodi...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Wizard
November 9th 2008


19498 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album needed a review badly. Plus the other review for this really sucked. I'm not saying I'm a great reviewer or anything but the review that was deleted for this was just terrible. Probably a few mistakes here and there so constructive criticism is welcome. Album is bliss!

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

OllieS
November 9th 2008


2033 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the review, been meaning to check out some stuff from the Swan-man.

Hawks
November 9th 2008


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review Wizard. I need to check this album out.

Wizard
November 9th 2008


19498 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

God, you guys don't know what your missing.

bastard
November 9th 2008


3435 Comments


wait, there was another review for this?

anyway, awesome review, going to download this today or tomorrow.

Yazz_Flute
November 9th 2008


18809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

downloading this right now, love Swano's work in Edge of Sanity, particularly Crimson 1 and II.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 9th 2008


16434 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review! Been waiting for someone to review this album, now I know it's gonna be good. I'll get this soon.

Digging: Swallowed - Lunarterial

Wizard
November 9th 2008


19498 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Crysis,
This is in line with what you like; straight forward melo-death with some awesome keys.

NotMrBlonde
November 9th 2008


395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is better than chocolate coated sex.

Wizard
November 9th 2008


19498 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I guess thats good?

jimay333
November 9th 2008


433 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

FINALLY a decent review for this album. Found it by chance a couple years ago and I still think its epic.

razedtotheground
November 9th 2008


368 Comments


I love the clean vocals on Add Reality

Digging: Electric Wizard - Time to Die

beans
November 9th 2008


2332 Comments


this sounds good. need to hear this
good review

Bleak123
November 9th 2008


1902 Comments


Great review :thumb:
Dan Swano is just the nuts.

fireaboveicebelow
November 9th 2008


6837 Comments


I recall not caring for this when I first heard it, but I will try again

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
November 9th 2008


17920 Comments


*cubicle

good review tho. i'll get this.

Crimson
November 9th 2008


1935 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

wish I could love this as much as everybody else, man is my idol

asdemonsburn
November 9th 2008


793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, love this album, but its a bit top heavy


DeathThrashProg
November 9th 2008


500 Comments


heh, this album does more for me than anyone here apparently.

Great review, but i had written a review plan a couple of days ago as this was going to be my first ever review

rasputin
November 9th 2008


14550 Comments


Really good review, still need to hear this.



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