Review Summary: A good record, if only let down by inconsistency, and musical differences within the band.5 of 6 thought this review was well written
Edge of Sanity are a band best known as one of the first to fuse death metal with actual progressive rock. They never had the same exposure as Opeth, although Dan Swano, the mastermind behind the band is well respected within the extreme metal community. Infernal is the band's 6th record and was released a year after Crimson, which many believe to be their masterpiece and creative peak. It was one long 40 minute progressive death metal song, by far the most ambitious piece of work released within the genre at that point.
Edge of Sanity were getting more and more progressive with each release since their debut, which was a pure death metal record. After the release of Crimson other members of the band most notably guitarist Andreas "Dread" Axelsson felt that the band were moving too far away from their death metal roots, and thus when you listen to this record you can clearly see a lot of fragmentation, with a song like "Helter Skelter" which is brutal and fast all the way through following a more melodic and progressive opener in "Hell is Where the Heart is". The lack of cohesion especially in the first 4 songs really lower the quality of the record as it is clearly the least focused in their discography.
Dread does vocals on two songs on the record, the aforementioned "Helter Skelter" and track 4 "The Bleakness of it All". Those two songs are by far the worst here due to the fact that there are no memorable riffs or melodies, and Dread just does not have the vocal strength or range to carry a song on his own. He does well doing backing vocals on songs from previous records, most notably Of Darksome Origin from Purgatory Afterglow in which his vocals, which resemble a rasp not far from black metal add to the intensity of the chorus. As a lead vocalist however he falls flat.
Dread was clearly unhappy with the progressive direction EoS were heading in after Crimson, while Dan almost certainly wanted to advance that sound which is why Infernal sounds so disjointed, as Dread wanted to revert back to a more pure death metal approach. Dan takes very much a backseat when it comes to the record, Dread wrote most of the lyrics and there are even two songs, "Forever Together" and "Losing Myself" which were written by Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth fame and Jonas Renkse of Katatonia respectively. "The Last Song" is the only song where Dan contributes lyrics.
Despite the flaws this is still a very enjoyable record, especially when it comes to the songs where Swano writes the music for. You have a great talk box guitar intro and nice vocal interplay on 15:36, where Dan uses clean verses and a growled chorus. Hell is Where the Heart is features a nice solo and Losing Myself rivals Black Tears for best clean EoS song. "The Last Song" (which ironically would be the last song Swano wrote for EoS before he left the band) is a nice piano ballad which adds to the diversity of the album, and also features a great melodic guitar outro. You'll notice that almost all of the highlights on this record are where Swano is most involved and if he had more of a role then this would undoubtedly be a much better release.
This would be the last EoS record until 2003's Crimson II to feature Dan Swano, as he left after the release of this record which was clearly a step back for the band after the ground breaking Crimson. This is worth checking out if you are a fan of the band or progressive/melodic death metal, although it is easily in the bottom half of EoS' discography. Still, it remains a good record, if only let down by inconsistency, and musical differences within the band.