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This band and album came to my attention through my once-fervent appreciation of the fellow Swedish progressive death metal group Opeth. Although my love of Opeth has since dwindled a fair bit, I am left now with the music of Edge Of Sanity, led by none other than Dan Swano, who seems to have taught Opeth frontman quite a bit when it comes to metal. With the prospect of a forty minute epic riding my expectations high, I was nearly expecting to be let down, but quite clearly; that was not the case. Rivaled by only a handful of other albums in death metal, 'Crimson' is a powerfully crafted opus that takes beauty and heaviness in equal measure and combines them in a narrative style to create what is one of the best put-together concept albums I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.
Telling a fairly dark story that blends elements of science-fiction and the supernatural, 'Crimson' revolves around a dismal vision of the future in which mankind can breed no longer, and depends on a mythic princess to lead them to salvation. Unfortunately, she makes a deal with an 'unholy entity' of sorts to save her people, and from there on, things start to fall apart. Even as a story of its own, 'Crimson' is a convincing piece of fantasy fiction, and while some parts of the plot are left a bit obscure, it feels like a perfect milieu for the music to score. Although some listeners may find it difficult to follow the story on first listen due to the rather garbled nature of death metal growls (of which there are plenty here), the music gets the intended feeling and imagery across just right. 'Crimson' also makes use of some incredibly memorable leitmotifs that also seem to coincide with recurring narrative elements, such as death. Speaking musically, Edge Of Sanity is very clever in the way they re-use ideas from earlier in the forty minute epic; things never feel too familiar, and there is always a tinge of development to make the ideas feel even more dramatic than earlier on.
For death metal, the guitar work here is surprisingly melodic and often alternates between heavier and darker moments, much in the same way Opeth would. There are also some guest appearances from Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth, doing a vocal section and some guitar soloing. What might come as a surprise to some that find themselves particularly endeared to the band is that Akerfeldt's performance here pales in comparison to Dan Swano. Especially in Swano's emotive growling, there is always great power involved, and the lyrics are much more coherent than some other vocalists in death metal. Swano's clean approach isn't quite as sharp as his growling, but his deep tenor holds a nice resonance, particularly in a part later on where he harmonizes with himself beautifully.
The lead guitar licks are always top notch and melodic; never particularly technical, but always powerful. The rhythm guitar is not quite as organic, instead sometimes feeling like it is simply there to get the heaviness and chords across without putting its own mark of feeling into the music. That being said, there is little to distract from the enjoyment of this work. Although the word 'epic' is unfortunately tossed around far too often when describing music, Edge Of Sanity's 'Crimson' writes the book on it. One of the most powerful albums out there in the world of metal, progressive or otherwise.
Edge of Sanity may be the only band who can write a 1 song album lasting 40 minutes that I can listen all the way through and want to listen again. Yes this album is that good. I think it's safe to say that Dan Swano had the biggest hand in creating this album and you can tell by how progressive it is.
Ok so first off the lyrics of Crimson are excellent. Swano's vocals are deep and guttural but like Karl Willets from Bolt Thrower, you can still understand what he is saying. So the vocal performance is very fitting to the story. And its a great story at that! A king and queen rule over a population who are unable to reproduce thus bringing the extinction of humans in the near future. The rest of the song recount's the king and queen's child being born, their daughter becoming evil by an unholy god and her rule over what is left of humanity. No worries though, eventually a group of people take her prisoner and humanity is given the gift of life once more.
I have never heard a song that mirrors the emotion of the story being told so well. It is expertly done on Crimson. When the Queen dies (during child birth) and later the King as well, the music echoes this becoming sorrowful and sad. When the populace finds out they have been deceived into sacrificing themselves for the queen it becomes furious and chaotic. The music matches the actions of the story in a truly impressive way.
Swano gives a terrific performance as well. His death growls are as evil sounding as ever but his cleans happen to shine just as bright. Mike Akerfeldt from Opeth contributes both clean and harsh vocals as well. In fact he let's a absolutely morbid scream and holds it for quite a while and it sounds pretty badass.
There are some very memorable riffs in Crimson. We have some really nice acoustic interludes which usually are a sign of one movement making a transition to another. Now there are a few riffs that are repeating. One is a doom riff that is kind of down trod and dark sounding setting the mood. Another is a harmonized twin lead that is just epic! It repeats 2 or 3 times throughout the song and sounds kind of upbeat. Every time I hear this part I bang my head it's just addictive.
But the guitar riffs as a whole are quite catchy. It doesn't matter if they are more in the death metal vein or not, they are all quite memorable. The drumming is pretty straight forward and I enjoy the blast beats here and there. The bass is for the most part buried behind everything else and doesn't exactly play a very prominent role which is unfortunate.
Crimson is a great album that is both progressive and melodic. EoS have created a must have album that could even be appreciated by those who don't listen to extreme music for its depth and the creativity. Do yourself a favor and find this album.
Originally reviewed at http://abaddonsmetalshop.blogspot.com/
It was neither the first or last time a metal band had created the long-playing, single track epic. Considering Dan Swanö's deep roots in the progressive rock field, it was inevitable for Edge of Sanity, and it's got to be one of the first death metal albums of its type (highly melodic Swedish death metal though). For the most part, it succeeds.
Coming off a streak of great albums like Unorthodox, The Spectral Sorrows and Purgatory Afterglow is no easy feat, and I did feel this album was a little weaker. "Crimson" is a 40 minute long affair which tells the story of a tragic future in which humanity has lost its ability to reproduce, until one day a new child is mysteriously born. But is this child a gift from God or the infernal? It's an interesting enough concept, and lyrically the album gets pretty dark.
'She drinks the life-blood from the feebled man.
Empty bodies, soul-drained by the virgin queen.
Finally given the pleasure to die.
She aligns the hate inside their hearts.
Her chosen knights will make sure all life departs.'
The major issue I had with the album is the very formulaic means by which this is delivered. It seems more like a bunch of riffs thrown together that were intended for separate songs, and you wind up with a pretty dull pattern of melodic death section - acoustic section - melodic death - melodic death - acoustic, and so forth.
Now, Edge of Sanity is a good band, and they definitely have a dozen or so riffs on this album worth hearing. Any fan of Purgatory Afterglow or the later Infernal will probably enjoy the material here. In addition, there are some guest spots from Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt, and the long nature of the work may appeal to fans of that band. The sequel to this was released in 2003, and while it was a little better, neither of the Crimson albums are among the best of Edge of Sanity material.
Never one to sacrifice his musical heritage, Dan Swano once again releases this monstrous epic masterwork upon the unsuspecting masses. This is the best song ever written. Hands down, nothing comes close: the lead guitar work is really what sticks out the most to me, with the what, simplistic arpeggio picked lead work accompanied by the perfectly produced power-chord riffs, this is musical bliss. It's eerie and dark and really leaves a lasting impression.
The production is the best I've ever heard on any Swedish death album, everything seems so lucid and full of vitality: the song is very atmospheric and leaves a feeling of impending doom upon me. Considering Swano probably controlled every aspect of "Crimson" it's no surprise at how fucking awesome this album really is: Mikael Akerfeldt only improves it as well with his vocal input, and bluesy guitar solo work.
Maybe there is a bit of a more rock format to the song, I don't give a fuck, this is pure, spirited death metal in the old school vein with absolutely emotive clean-sung vocals that only add to the massiveness of this album: sure this is progressive, but it lacks ANY pretension and as such the whole thing when looked at from an artistic view, it's completely mind-blowing. This is epic like "Eld"-era Enslaved with the progressive touch of Opeth's first two. Maybe a bit heavier in the often-used power chord progressions than the previously mentioned but with a more death metal feel.
Simply put, this is a classic, flawless Swedish death metal album from Swano, what more do you want??
Edge of Sanity’s Crimson is a helluva technical death metal album that should not, and must not, be missed by any decent heavy metal fan, period.
The album, Crimson, is a single 40 minute track whose flurry of riffs and interludes will astounds you. The track deals with a huge problem humanity faces “x” years into the future, they are infertile, i.e. they can’t breed. As humanity dies off, a new hope is born. The king and queen are able to have a baby girl, and to the remaining people, this is a sign of the gods that humanity is not down for the count just yet. When the princess is a teen though, her father dies, and huge wars are waged in order to see who will be the future king/queen of the humans. After the war is over, and there’s a new king established, some rebels take the princess away, in order to protect her. She soon gains new powers, establishes herself as the queen of humanity, but years later, she is captured and, obviously, raped, and soon has a kid, the future king.
The song’s music is just plain amazing. Depending on which part of the song you’re on, there’s something to be liked about it. The song is just really well done. While it is complex, it seems honest, not over thought, which, to me at least, seems to happen to a lot of progressive/technical metal bands. The riffs sound great, inspired, awesome, fresh and many more positive adjectives which I will not list here. Of special notice on this record are the vocals. The song uses a mixture of clean and cookie monster vocals, to great effect. The mellower parts use a combination of both, the important parts use the clean vocals, and the rest of the song just uses harsh vocals. The rhythm section would be my only complaint though. The bass and the drums don’t really have much of a presence here, and they just, well, keep rhythm, and that’s pretty much it.
Overall, Crimson should be heard by any decent metal fan, though the record doesn’t really tread new ground, musically speaking. The concept is really nice though, since humanity ends by a more or less biological mean rather than itself. Great album.
Crimson by Edge of Sanity consists of only one song, but that one song is 40 minutes in length, explaining the lack of other material. When I mention this, most people fail to see the greatness. 40:00 of death metal, is it not boring and repetitive? If it did, one would have to call Crimson a failure. But the truth is, Crimson is never tedious nor monotonous. It has to be admitted that many riffs are used more than once, but in and of itself, this does not make the song repetitive, as most music is structured in a similar fashion, and the number of riffs and sections in Crimson is sufficiently large.
Crimson is essentially a concept "album" with only one track. The story is set in a dystopian, far future, when mankind, now ruled by a king and queen, has lost the ability to breed and is thus on the verge of extinction. But a glimmer of hope appears, as the queen gives birth to a princess. Is this the salvation of mankind, "a gift from the skies of life divine"? Due to the nature of this album, I highly recommend having the lyrics in front of you the first few times you listen to it, the story being an integral part of the experience. For me, my appreciation of Crimson grew - even though it was already enormous - as I gained a fuller grasp of the story.
The music fits very well with the dystopian visions, portraying them accurately. The mood is melancholic when introducing the doomed humans, hopeful when the Princess is born, and the growls send shivers down the spine when the forces of evil enter. Undoubtedly, most of the riffs of Crimson are classic killers. . Dan Swanö's vocals are, I think, possibly the best he has ever done, especially the clean ones. Also, Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth fame contributes with some guitars, and a notable scream around the 29-minute mark.
In conclusion, Crimson is a masterpiece, but even the word masterpiece fails to describe just how great this work is. If you do not already own it, be sure to buy it, or you will have missed one of the best metal albums. Ever.
Everything that is good and beautiful about metal, fantasy and stories in general is displayed in this 40-minute epic, truly the best song ever written. Swanö did a magnificent job on the lyrics, a story about a torn kingdom, a mysterious chamber with vaults of deadly crimson water, and an evil queen out to destroy the world. The excellent tale is supported by even better music. Starting off with a blast, the album goes from bombastic to softer and melodic to fast and wild and back to bombastic multiple times, sometime throwing in doom and heavy metal bits, mixing in crazy solos, brilliant keyboard support and one hell of a vocalist.
Nothing compares to this song. It's never a few songs tied together, it's never boring, it's never a chain of random pieces of metal. Everything fits. When the Queen tells her people to kill themselves, the music turns hypnotizing, just like the Queen. A mighty roar sounds when war is uphand. A soft and magical part pops in when the spirit of the dead king talks to his servants.
Buy this album. Now. You won't be sorry. And I advise you to at least once listen the whole song with the lyrics sheets in front of you. It is an experience unlike any other.
When people think of the most influential death metal bands and albums, they will almost always mention Possessed's Seven Churches, Death's Leprosy, Morbid Angel's Alters of Madness, Carnage's Dark Recollections, Carcass' Symphonies of Sickness, Cynic's Focus, Atheist's Piece of Time, Entombed's Left Hand Path, Suffocation's Pierced from Within, At the Gates' first two albums... etc. But for some strange reason Edge of Sanity's Crimson is overlooked. It may be true that Crimson might not have changed the direction of the genre on a very high scale, but no one can deny that this album has breathed new life into the overblown death metal scene in the 90's when every other band prefered to walk in the footsteps of their pioneers. Dan Swano had the will and courage to create something different, namely a one-track album with a running time of 40+ minutes instead of copy-cating whatever was 'the big thing' in 1996. Having recorded and produced tons of bands and also the first two Opeth albums including songs like "Black Rose Immortal" it is no wonder why he was so independent-minded, bold, intelligent and independent to experiment with his music. Dan has always looked for different ways to express himself and with Crimson he proved to be one of the most creative artists of the decade.
Crimson is definitely Edge of Sanity's most lauded recording to date. Although Dan has mentioned that he thinks the Unorthodox album is by far his favourite and Crimson was recorded when the band was in a very bad state, I still consider it a true masterpiece! It easily paved the way for so many other bands with its rich content and song structures which simply refuse to compromise. The music is very experimental borrowing lots of elements from the 70's and blending them seamlessly with the fundamental parts of death metal. Dan uses both his death and clean vocals, and also Mike from Opeth does some killer death grunts to bring this 40-minute CD more depth and life. This album features very melodic and intricate riffs including acoustic passages and unexpected key and tempo changes. Generally most death metal releases focus on destruction and single-minded fury, but Crimson isn't afraid to lend itself to various other pursuits. It delivers consistent musical and lyrical themes from beginning to end. I doubt Dan Swano and his friends in EOS were aware of the fact that they were pushing the limits of death metal to unfathomable artistic heights when they were recording this CD. I'm glad they did because even after 8 years of its release I still love playing it and enjoy every second on it. Dan recently put out a sequel to Crimson which is also highly recommended not to mention his solo album Moontower, and his more prog rock driven projects Nightingale and Unicorn, all of which are intense, poignant, bold, and independent works of art.