Edge of Sanity
Crimson


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
November 16th, 2008 | 173 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Easy there kiddies. Easy, now.

I’ll cut right to the chase, seeing as there is no point now for a needless intro for a review such as this. Edge Of Sanity is one of those bands which everyone who has heard them respects for their willingness to go places not really explored within the bounds of their genre. It’s easy to call Edge Of Sanity a simple death/melodic death metal band previous to this release, stemming from their pure death metal roots with their debut Nothing But Death Remains up to their superb, melodic, and also melancholic Purgatory Afterglow. They play a variation of Swedish death metal virtually unseen before. Interesting. They composed a one track album when such a thing was relatively unknown and taboo. Also interesting. We’re not here to talk about that though, and I only bring it up to sort of set the stage for where Dan Swano and Edge Of Sanity were at circa 1996, the year they released their “classic” album, the 40 minute Swedish progressive death metal escapade known as Crimson.

It is true that, in many regards, what Crimson accomplished was nothing short of breathtaking and certainly was untraveled grounds for any band at the time. The album combined the harsh fury of death metal with the melodies of its Gothenburg counterpart and the progressive effect of such bands as their Swedish brethren Opeth. However, unlike any of these sole genres, Crimson is an amalgam of said influences mashed together into a single song, high attention demanding experiment which turned out to be the greatest achievement, or so is said, of the bands career. The centralized concept of the album is a story of post-apocalyptic humanity and the troubles that ensued, involving the daughter of a queen who was hailed as a gift from the heavens, toppling dominos throughout the surviving world and ultimately leading to uncontrollable chaos. The story itself is interesting enough, but suffers slightly from, in my personal views, a slightly overworked concept which seems to take itself way, way too seriously. Indeed, the lyrics are well written, a known talent of Edge Of Sanity, but everything appears to be too over-the-top, something which only slightly hinders the big picture.

Moving away from that, however, we find the topic of the music itself. It is indeed a marvel of musicianship and a rather fine display of songwriting, with each section (usually separated by a distinct bridge of some sort) providing an impressive display of riffs which are both heavy and melodic, but don’t quite contain that lasting power which some of the songs from their previous albums had (“Twilight”, anyone?). It is here where I find the mind-tearing question, are the riffs memorable enough to call this classic? At some points, this is certainly the case, with the riffs being strung back-to-back in ways I’ve never heard before. It’s interesting to see how Edge Of Sanity manages to create effective melodies while barely ever harmonizing the lead and rhythm guitars, which gives props to the musical mind of Swano and his band mates. It cannot go without saying though, that even though riffs are constantly changing literally throughout the entire forty minutes, I would really like to look back and pick a specific riff which struck me as awe-inspiring or downright mesmerizing, but sadly I cannot.

The way that Crimson shifts paces is quite remarkable. It is nearly flawless in its execution of going from full-out death metal passages to a clean acoustic interlude without the listener even thinking about the transition. This applies to the vocal performance of our mastermind Dan Swano and the all-too-well known Opeth front man Mikael Akerfeldt, who provides guest vocals and guitars on the album. The vocals change from Edge Of Sanity’s typical grunts and growls to clean singing to ominous drones throughout the run time, which often works well despite some flaws with the clean vocals. While the death metal growls are, as always, superb beyond reason, the clean singing is flat, almost pretentious, and simply tires way too hard to sound melodramatic and sorrowful at points, yet comes across as something just above tolerable. Worry not, however, since the singing makes up a (comparably) small part of the vocal performance, with the terrific growls at the forefront sweeping the show away and elevating this album to that of Edge Of Sanity’s best (in terms of growled vocals) performance.

Between solos, acoustic bridges, intense and dark moments of glory, Crimson manages to both captivate the listener and thrust them away with moments of simple but lasting confusion. The forty minutes is not out of the question for most metal fans, especially those such as me who appreciate long songs which have a lasting meaning, but this also means that the listener simply must sit down and listen to the entire album. This isn’t one of those longer songs which you can pause for a few minutes, go attend to something, and come back and finish. No, this is a composition which takes your full and unquestionably undivided attention to take in, something which very few of us can do in this day and age. That said, though, it is a rewarding listen if you do take the time to open your mind and take in what Edge Of Sanity is attempting to get across. The album, especially toward it’s latter portions, tends to slow down tremendously and concentrate more on atmosphere and expression than the first three-quarters, which is more or less aimed at assaulting the listener with more riffs than most bands have on two full length LP’s, which is why the back portion of the disc garners the most praise from me, since a thick atmosphere is something I enjoy more than anything.

Crimson is work of progressive death metal extremes. On the one hand, we have the simply astounding barrage of heaviness which hits the listener like a truck upon first listen, layered by just the opposite, calming (but equally progressive) moments of bliss which make this album as good as I believe it to be. Without these atmospheric touches, Crimson would amount to little more than a decent, lengthy extension to Purgatory Afterglow. However, this is not how things turned out. Interestingly enough, when all is said and done, the listener leaves with a sense of accomplishment after listening to what Edge Of Sanity expresses here. It’s production is crisp and clean, especially for 1996, it’s ideas certainly new to the genre, and it’s execution nearly flawless. The untold amount of positives to the album overshadow the few, but noticeable, shortcomings with astounding vigor, leaving you with nothing but good things to say in the end about what Crimson is and what it did for Edge Of Sanity as a band, and what it did for progressive death metal as a genre. An enjoyable listen? Most definitely. A leap forward for all of Swedish death metal? Certainly. A classic? Not quite there.

Interesting indeed.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2008


16397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Been wanting to write this for a long, long while now.

Purgatory Afterglow is better IMO.This Message Edited On 11.16.08

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

Thor
November 16th 2008


10193 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It is here where I find the mind-tearing question, are the riffs memorable enough to call this classic?

Yes :D

I would really like to look back and pick a specific riff which struck me as awe-inspiring or downright mesmerizing, but sadly I cannot.

16:14. Seriously that lead is so awesome/beautiful/catchy/sick it makes me want to quit writing riffs.

Lunarfall
November 16th 2008


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

NEG NEG NEG NEG NEG NEG

jk good review

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2008


16397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha nice avatar Thor. I agree with you that the riff at 16:14 is quite impressive, but I believe it is placed in the wrong place and doesn't last long enough to be driven into my head. The fact that it is placed before an acoustic section is interesting. I think that riff would have been better placed during a verse, I think Swano's screaming would sound amazing over that riff.

Thor
November 16th 2008


10193 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The brevity of that riff is partly why it is so special. It just makes you want more and more...and then it's brought back near the closing minutes of the album. Superb riff placement by Swano.

And yeah my avatar lol. I had this album at a 4.5 for months but finally bumped it up to classic status. Sure I've heard plenty of Swedish melo-death before but nothing as complex, creative, and badass as this.

ninjuice
November 17th 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This reminds me of The Jester Race. Also because I can't wait to acquire both.

ManWomanBoogie
November 17th 2008


185 Comments


have you tried google blog search?

ninjuice
November 17th 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

You talking to me? No, why? (I buy my music about 80% of the time)

ManWomanBoogie
November 17th 2008


185 Comments


Yeah i'm talkin to you.

Well, with blog search, this will probably be in the other 20% of ways how you get your music.This Message Edited On 11.17.08

ninjuice
November 17th 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

For this, I could just get When All is Said - (fan chosen) greatest hits album and both Crimsons. Only $15 US from the record company!

NortherlyNanook
November 17th 2008


1285 Comments


Yeah i'm talkin to you.

Well, with blog search, this will probably be in the other 20% of ways how you get your music.


lol please tell us of this hidden secret way of obtaining music on the internet

ManWomanBoogie
November 17th 2008


185 Comments


well kiddies.

that's it for story time.

good review crysis, here is a pos.

rasputin
November 17th 2008


14545 Comments


You said 'into' instead of 'intro' in the first sentence. Good review otherwise, and fantastic album.

McP3000
November 17th 2008


3941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i respect you after this review. You did a very good job.

DoctorNurse
November 17th 2008


475 Comments


Just finished listening to this. Seems pretty decent. I can recall a few interesting sections, although obviously will need a couple more listnes before i can forumlate an opinion.

Anyway, nice review.

fireaboveicebelow
November 17th 2008


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yay, this was needed, fantastic review

Zippermouth
November 17th 2008


1305 Comments


That is one long song...
The only two songs that come close to that are 2112 and that weird one by Meshuggah...
Absoulutely crazy, where do I get this?

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2008


16397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks as always for the feedback! Fixed that mistake, rasputin.

I actually (somehow!) found a used copy of this in my local store along with Purgatory Afterglow and Nothing But Death Remains, someone probably sold their collection or something. Anyway, I bought all three knowing I would never see them in a store again. Well worth it if you ask me.

Otherwise I think the only way to get this is through ebay or, sadly, to download it. I can think of a few other albums besides this when such a long track is used (if you are interested in black metal check out Heathen by Wyrd, it's a one song, 52 minute album which is absolutely amazing) but it's always nice when a band tries something like this.

DeathThrashProg
November 17th 2008


500 Comments


Well written review, pos'd. The only feedback i would give you is to perhaps point out where you are saying the negative points, perhaps putting them all into a certain category. This isnt really nit picking, as i found myself (being a huge Crimson fan) looking forward in the review to find the bits that you disagreed with.

No problems though, a good read!

I love this album to bits. Its the main reason i gave When All Is Said a 5.

oh, and id just like to add, i like the 'Interesting' motif that you used throughoutThis Message Edited On 11.17.08

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2008


16397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Part of the reason why I didn't lump all of the negatives into one place is because I want the reader to actually go through the whole review, and to get my viewpoints from all sides, good and bad. I've had reviews before where I put all that I disagreed with into one paragraph, and it's often enough that the readers look only at that paragraph, decide I'm ranting, and then bash me without reading the entire review. That's where I'm coming from when I say I want whoever reads this to get my full, twin sided opinion at the same time.

Thanks for the positive feedback, though, always appreciated



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