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Edge of Sanity, quite possibly the most underrated metal act ever. Not as heavy as Dismember, Entombed or Grave. Not a melodic as At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity or In Flames. Their prog/death fusion overshadowed by Opeth.
This album marks the beginning of Edge of Sanity’s progressive death metal stage. Not as melodic as Purgatory Afterglow but more melodic than Unorthodox. The hard “edge” of both Nothing But Death Remains and Unorthodox is still present but tends to take a step back. The Spectral Sorrows’ emphasis is on melody and song structure. Songs tend to focus on a fewer ideas rather than riff after riff, which usually becomes tedious after a few tracks anyways. However, you still get a good taste of old school Swedish death metal riffing here!
The vocal department is a step up from previous work. Swano’s hoarse death shout is still powerful as the last two albums but feels more controlled and audible. Clean vocals return but are not overused. Those looking for more of an emphasis on clean vocals should check out the albums preceding this one.
Production still has that early Swedish death metal sound. The drums are VERY thin as compared to Unorthodox. This is something you might pick up right off the bat. It’s not a bad thing but adds character to the record, which is something charming about this era of metal. Unlike most trigger happy drummers nowadays, you can tell that Benny Larsson actually played them.
Unlike Unorthodox, The Spectral Sorrows doesn’t suffer from too much repetition. We hear lots of song variation within13 tracks, an intro (The Spectral Sorrows) and outro (A Serenade for the Dead). We have standard death metal songs such as Darkday and Livin’ Hell. Melodic death numbers such as Lost, Jesus Cries and Waiting to Die. Progressive tinged numbers like Across the Fields of Forever and The Masque.
But we also have the odd numbers! The Manowar cover, Blood of My Enemies. The catchy Goth rock song, Sacrificed and the hardcore inspired Feedin' the Charlatan. Although credited for all vocals, I’m not sure if Dan Swano’s actually singing on Charlatan. These track are out of place but aren’t bad tracks! Like early albums such as Metallica’s Kill Them All or Slayer’s Show No Mercy, these tracks are cheesy but a blast.
Overall The Spectral Sorrows is a solid release of early Swedish death metal with nice progressive/gothic elements added into the mix. For fans that recently got into Edge of Sanity (I’m guessing Crimson or Crimson II) The Spectral Sorrows is a nice place to start backtracking since you get a good mix of everything Edge of Sanity was about.