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The swedish death metal band Edge of Sanity has gone a long way in their career. And one member has gone an even longer way. That member is Dan Swanö. Yes, the man with million bands (Nightingale, Bloodbath, Pan-Thy-Monium among others). While early Edge of Sanity was mostly death metal of the swedish kind the later Edge of Sanity has incorporated lots of melody in it. On Infernal they have taken some of the progressive rock influences Swanö had mostly used in his side projects (Nightingale mostly). Well, actually the influences show only on a few songs but more of that later.
The members list shows that there are two vocalists, two guitarists and two basists on 'Infernal'. Yes, that is the case BUT only one of each on every song, except for 'The Bleakness of it All' where Axelson provides the rhythm guitar and one Peter Tägtgren plays the leads. The larger than usual number of vocalists and bassists is because of that the all of the members didn't participate on all of the songs. Benny Larsson played all of the drums on 'Infernal' but that's where the consistency ends. Of the eleven tracks, five of them are totally played and composed by Dan Swanö and the rest six are composed by the rest of the band. Of those six, Swanö sings on four and Axelson takes care of the vocals on 'Helter Skelter' and 'The Bleakness of it All'. It is quite confusing and diversifying.
Since the band seemed to have inner conflicts (or so I believe) they couldn't (didn't want to) work together and hence the albums sounds a varied, a lot varied actually. The songs which Swanö didn't touch at all sound quite much straight death metal (even a bit black metallish) and all of Swanö's songs have at least some amounts of progressivity in them and some of that famous Edge of Sanity groove. I mean the lead guitar effect on '15:36' just screams prog rock. Swanö's songs also have a larger amount of leads and clean vocals in them. In fact the songs which Swanö hadn't composed (but did the vocals on) don't have any clean vocals on them. I guess the rest of the band wanted to go back to the old days of brutality but Swanö wanted to go forwards with the progressive sound.
The varying in the songs makes this album quite hard to stomach. Comparing the much more brutal stuff like 'Helter Skelter' with the Nightingalish, almost rockish, 'Losing Myself'. The gap is really huge. Something about Swanö's composing tells the fact that though I usually prefer the more brutal and heavier stuff, Swanö's composings are superior compared to the stuff made by the rest of the band although 'Damned (by the Damned)' is also quite good a song. Also the songs written by Swanö are catchier by a mile. They stick into your head like glue which isn't necessarily a good thing. The songs wear out rather quickly.
'Helter Skelter' is really quite a boring song with just two different parts and both have boring riffs. 'The Bleakness of it All' isn't much better either. The riffs aren't as boring but still fall short of average. The main thing about the two songs are the vocals. Anders Axelson isn't the right man for the job. He sounds alike with dozens of growlers out there. Also when the unavoidable comparation with Swanö's vocals comes, Axelson doesn't stand a chance. Swanö sounds much more aggressive and ballsier.
The rest of the non-Swanö songs aren't much better either. Swanö's vocals carry them a bit farther but their mediocrity drags the album down. Overall the five Swanö songs are quite good but don't really carry this album through.
(Originally appeared in the webzine Tuonela (c) 2001)