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The Parts Are Greater Than The Sum - 87%

OzzyApu, February 23rd, 2009

By this time, the band was split in two. You have your Axelsson tracks (“Helter Skelter” and “The Bleakness Of It All”), your Swanö tracks, and those tracks fucked up because of their divorce. Axelsson’s tracks are rather primitive compared to most of their material at this point, but it’s a downright homage to the band's roots when they played more primal and rapist-like tunes. The vocals are raspier (remember that Axelsson sang for Marduk), there are less catchy hooks, and much less progressive elements.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Danny-boy who ventured further into what seems like Nightingale territory. “15:36,” “Losing Myself,” and even the Edge Of Sanity / Nightingale cross-class “The Last Song” (all which feature clean vocals) are refreshing in idea and expression, detracting from the rest of the album. “The Last Song,” featuring its atmospheric, humble beginnings of what feels to be Dan’s parting soliloquy, ends with one of the most striking finishes to an album I’ve ever heard. What sounds like a cacophonous collage to the general population stuns my perception as the array of guitar melodies crashing between each other in a mix of artistic splendor reach higher heights than any man could achieve.

The more dependable tracks, such as “Damned (By The Damned),” “Hollow,” “Inferno,” and “Burn The Sun” are what balance this album out. Again, many people mistake them as what makes this album mediocre, but if you look at Crimson again, you’ll hear the same part repeated over five times and not as much variation. None of these tracks sound alike and each has a signature riff and rhythm to headbang and get lost in. Be it the churning crustiness of “Damned (By The Damned),” the folkish “Hollow,” the relentless “Inferno,” or even the more Spectral Sorrows sounding “Burn The Sun" with its evil interlude, these tracks work on their own instead of the collective.

The only ones that no one dare say shit about (aside from the last one), is the opener “Hell Is Where The Heart Is” and “Forever Together Forever.” I’ve noticed that these ones are some of the more melodic and fulfilling when it comes to the signature Edge Of Sanity sound. The former actually destroys (horrifyingly) all the other opening tracks on Edge Of Sanity albums, with its stampeding rhino riff and the merciless death growls of Swanö. No catchy keyboard interlude, no emo vocals to hook the weak, no filler material whatsoever. We even get to hear a damn captivating solo / clean riff combination that is strict and deadly. Much of the same can be said about the latter - Dan’s monstrous growls colliding with gorgeous leadwork, culminating in a fiery, unpolished solo.

I have to say that this is probably my favorite Edge Of Sanity album when comparing it to everything except Crimson and Crimson II - those I am unable to compare because they are just written in a completely different style, thus making it unfair to one or the other. I might rate something like The Spectral Sorrows or Purgatory Afterglow higher, but this one astonishes me on a personal level more than those, which is why I praise this highly. Give it a spin yourself, even if you don’t agree with me wholeheartedly in the end.