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The Longest Songs in Metal, Part 8 - 75%

Insin, August 29th, 2016

As people run out of original ideas in our current day and age, a sequel is frequently a gimmick for money or attention. The most obvious examples that come to mind exist in the cinematic world, but music contains some as well, such as Queensrÿche's Operation Mindcrime II, or Metallica’s three Unforgivens. Fortunately, Edge of Sanity's followup to their esteemed 1996 album Crimson (which I have already reviewed and given an 80%) is a sequel that upholds the legacy of its predecessor. I shall break this down into two sections, one that addresses the sound and the songwriting, and then, of course one that addresses this song as one flowing composition. Naturally, this review will be rife with comparison to the original Crimson.

The songwriting, since Edge of Sanity’s last forty-minute adventure, has become less blunt, straightforward, and assaulting, and is now perhaps more, dare I say it, commercial. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s one worth mentioning. I don't recall keyboards being so integral to the Edge of Sanity sound, and while I am in fact a sucker for keyboards, these don't do very much for me. Swano's clean singing sounds fantastic. Though his growls have also improved they sound disconnected from the rest of the music, which can perhaps be attributed to production. As usual, although it's a concept album, the lyrics are hard to understand both due to the vocal style and their actual phrasing. The riffs, however, are the real point of decline here. While the original Crimson had magnificent riffs of all types abound, this is quite disappointing, chock full of standard melodeath fare, and a few breakdowns. Crimson II lacks the power and memorable riffing of the original, but in other areas, it redeems itself to a degree.

There is still not enough variety to sustain Crimson II as a singular track. Yes, there are soft parts here and there, but mostly Crimson II trudges along at the same speed, volume, and level of heaviness for lengthy periods of time, static. The transitions are often abrupt, but Swano seems to have learned the art of the dramatic ending. The last 45 seconds of the album are quality; if only they went on for longer. A song of length ought to have some payoff or go somewhere, and it's still not quite enough, beginning only sometime during the sequence of Aftermaths, but it is a definite step up.

Crimson II upholds the legacy of the original; in some places better, in some worse. The sound has declined — while the original Crimson could have been a classic melodeath album even if it had not been a singular song, the followup is fairly unmemorable when split into parts. As one long song, the second Crimson is better, though the improvements are basic and marginal. I can’t really recommend this given it comes out as about average in both sections of the review, though I still liked it and I’m glad Edge of Sanity didn’t have to end their career on a sour note.

Edge Of Sanity - Crimson II - 80%

ConorFynes, July 5th, 2011

Anyone who has heard the original 'Crimson' will hopefully have had a similar experience to the one I had. Although I was already a fan of death metal, Edge Of Sanity's defining opus astounded me beyond virtually anything else I had heard in the style. A while after 'Crimson' came out, Edge Of Sanity disbanded, and the musicians proceeded to go their own ways. However, frontman and Edge of Sanity mastermind Dan Swano decided to revive the band's name with one final output. Although something more of a solo album by any standard, Dan Swano would bring in some guest musicians for his prospective sequel of his magnum opus. 'Crimson II'- like many sequels- can be the target of some controversy, as the result of following up such a successful concept work. Although I would tend to agree with the consensus that the sequel no where near reaches the same majesty as the original, 'Crimson II' is an excellent album with some fantastic moments of its own, and can stand alone as a strong work of progressive death metal.

Unlike the first- which thrusts right into the fray of heaviness- 'Crimson II' begins more conventionally as an epic; beginning with a symphonic introduction which is reprised later in the album. Before long though, the listener is hit with some rapid riffs and technicality which seeks to outdo anything heard on the first 'Crimson'. Although the opening riff and many that follow here are more complex in nature than much of the material on the first, they do not enjoy the same powerful, epic feel to them. That being said, 'Crimson II' is much more about the riffs and individual sections than Edge Of Sanity made the first out to be, which tended to have a greater overall cohesion. Of course, albums are best judged based on their own merits, but Dan Swano obviously intended this album to be matched up against the sequel.

A large development here is the greater presence of keyboards in the mix. Although the composition is still driven by the heavy guitar work, the keyboards add a new dimension to the sound, that at times is slightly overblown but does tend to give the sound a greater depth and melodic feel than before. The performance of the instruments here is also on par, and at times even better than on the original 'Crimson'; quite ironic considering that this is essentially a Dan Swano solo project being compared against a full band effort. Stranger still is the fact that the production here seems quite weaker than before, despite- and possibly in relation to- the addition of new sounds. 'Crimson' the first had an organic feel to it, but 'Crimson II' feels a little too doused in reverb, giving it a muddy feel that takes away from what is otherwise a great record.

'Crimson II' offers some incredible moments of its own, and expertly throws in some ideas from the original to give a sense of continuity. It does feel as if the 'Crimson' series has taken a bit of a dip with this one; after all, how could the original ever be topped? But make no mistake; 'Crimson II' is an excellent work of its own, and would probably receive many more accolades from listeners, were it not always held in comparison with what I consider to be a near-perfect album.

The meaning of art - 99%

BloodIronBeer, December 14th, 2007

Before I start, I must point out that I am not a fan of death metal (though this album refuses to be chained to such a label), and there is probably less death metal in my collection than anything. Hence I will only spend my time reviewing truly outstanding death metal.

This, is truly outstanding.

As if uncapping his head and pouring his twisted ideas out was an everyday occurrence, Dan Swanö forged what is surely beyond the capability of most mortal men.

Not only is this the brainchild of one man, but it is the most dynamic and epic death metal album ever. Surely in the case of a left-of-center concept death metal album, you'd expect the generic phrase "conceptual masterpiece". Most people will be impressed enough by a good story and epic format, and throw a phrase like that out. But having a good idea is not enough, execution is key.

But sure enough, this album delivers on ever platform. Tactful keyboards both blow the music up to colossal scale in the background, and weave haunting melodies in the foreground. Guitars that are trance-inducing one minute, and six-string chainsaws the next. Swanö's singing is simply chilling. The solos are soaring melodic torrents, the lyrics are brilliantly written and compliment the music perfectly. And though these, nor the exceptional growls are to Swanö credit, they are of his caliber.
Indeed, this album delivers, but it goes beyond that. It's akin to a catcher expecting a 90 mph fastball and receiving a 90 mph semi truck.

Like the crests and troughs of a wave this album fluctuates from both spacey ambient progressive sections to flawlessly executed melodic death metal. And everywhere in between. The mood of the music adapts to each turn in the story. With the exceptions of the pulverizing death/thrash, every riffs exudes emotion. This area especially is one where this album sets itself apart.

A range of keyboard and guitar effects are used to paint a genuinely eerie and piercingly expressive picture. This is something few bands could ever hope to do. He's taken something that is normally corny and above all else, artificial sounding, and made it very human. Anyone can play ugly chords on a distorted guitar and deem it dark. Anyone can play some major chords and deem it happy. Or minor chords and call it sad. But after listening to an album like this, you know that there are ways to bring about feeling that go far, far deeper than that. And that to me is part of the magic of music. That intangible something that connects the source and the recipient.

That is what sets something great and something masterful apart. Finding albums that are just solid all the way through is rare enough. But even if I really love the style, and the songs all work, it doesn’t mean it’s masterful. The gripping emotion has to be there, the boundary breaking has to be there. It has to transcend genres and all conventional understandings of music. It has to be something that puts meaning into the word art, and this is it. And only a brilliant mind like Swanö could do it for the duration of an entire 43 minute song/album.

This is the benchmark of mastery.



{Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com}

Note: I did deem Krono's Colossal Titan Strife the best death metal album ever, but I don't really consider this album death metal. I refuse to catagorize it.

Ever seen Grease 2? - 50%

Pyromanic, July 24th, 2007

I'm not a fan of the movie Grease or anything, but I can appreciate it, and it's the best analogy I can come up with. I watched Grease 2 once... it's one of those sequels that sucks so bad it makes you like the first one less. That's how this makes me feel (although not listening to Crimson is a thought I'm not fond of). I wish Dan Swano would have just fucking left it alone, let it be a masterpiece, but no. He had to go back, reuse those riffs with some other recycled melodeath riffs, throw in some synth effects (what the fuck? rarely were they used before this in EoS, especially not in Crimson, why now?) and... well that’s it really. Makes you wonder, what was he thinking? It's like convincing a beautiful girl to get plastic surgery... LEAVE IT FUCKING BE!

Ok, I might have been a little harsh, it's not a *bad* release, it just shouldn't bear the Crimson name (or the music). I'm not a big fan of the synthetic shit every Scandinavian band seems to want to use, DT being my biggest (and most upsetting) example. It's very appropriate for some songs, like Covenant of Souls, but others (Incantation) see the effects weakening the riffs more than supporting them.

The first track of the album starts of slow and atmospheric, then plays that nice little thrashy riff from the beginning of Crimson (which sounds damn good with the up-to-date production), progresses a little then ends about a minute and a half in. Fast forward to track 6, Covenant of Souls, which starts of in the same way, then slows down to the atmospheric dreamy tone again (which is also pretty much how the album ends, phht). This is the best use of the synthetic crap on the album.

Passage of Time is a nice little fast paced heavy song that uses said effects much more casually than the rest of the album, not hindering the badass riffage but supporting it. The solo a minute and a half in sounds like its from an AC/DC song though... Face to Face is the only track that I truly despise, mostly because that opening riff I swear I've heard somewhere (can’t figure it out though). Besides that it’s a very fruity song, if not for the deep growling swano lyrics it would sound like a hardcore song. Which helps it flow nicely into the equally gay and hardcore-esque Disintegration. The last song feels like it should; a nice, slow, melodic end to an epic, the only fast part being the same riff from tracks 1 and 6.

If this was released by any band but EoS, or more precisely called anything but Crimson II (or bearing its music), I'd give it a better score. But the fact that I have to live the rest of my life knowing that Swano decided to double the size of the canvas and paint a second half to something that I already thought was one of the most beautiful pieces of art in the world makes me angry. The fact that people acclaim it as much as or more than its predecessor makes me hate.

Best Swedish metal album, EVER - 100%

TheBloodOmen, July 29th, 2006

Edge Of Sanity has FINALLY, at long last become "Edge of Dan-ity" with Crimson II. After a six year hiatus, Dan returns with EOS, by himself this time (I don't think many people considered the album released under the name without Dan in the group authentic EOS material and rightfully so). It would more approapriately be titled "Moontower II" if it were to be a sequel album at all, as it shares very little if anything in common with the original Crimson album. I think this is what Dan Swano has long wished for the Edge of Sanity name, and admitted himself he was exceedingly proud of this release. Let's do a track-by-track shall we?

01) The Forbidden Words: A very short track, basically just an intro to the album. It opens up with a nice symphonic piece, then knocks your head completely off around the 22 second mark and sets the tone for the rest of the album. This album, at times, is every bit as intense as Moontower and possibly moreso in spots. This is a great opener.

02) Incantation: Very fast right from the beginning, I'll use the term "intensely melodic", which could be said for the whole record. Dan mixes the classic EOS guitar tone with his newfound "spacey" sound as is heard throughout Moontower. The tempo changes around the 1:50 mark, at which time the riffing becomes quite excellent. Then, he slows it down to an acoustic, dreamy type of pace around the 2:50 mark. The song then recalls its metal form and remains as such for the remainder. All distorted vocals here.

03) Passage Of Time: I LOVE the way this one starts, growl some incoherent shit and cue the brutality. There's nothing melodic about the first minute of this song, although it seems he tries to stress melody in places with some keys in the background. He lays down a nice guitar solo around 1:35, it's short but oh so sweet. Then, once again, he hits his stride in a solo around the 3:30 mark. This one ends very "prog rock" with a nice cleanly sung line by Dan.

04) The Silent Threat: This one, even though I find this album to be perfection in the overall scheme of thing, I'm not so crazy about. It does feature some of Dan's best drumming on the album, but aside from that it's very repetitive and there's really nothing to distinctively point out about it that makes it special. Even the acoustic ending is likely to bore you. Maybe the weakest song on the album.

05) Achillies Heel: This one again starts out with a melodic, spacey sound behind crunchy EOS distortion and Dan's growl. This one gets very good around the 1:15 mark, where he begins to show us some of the distinctive and impressive riffs that the previous song lacked. This one is also quite short, clocking in at around 2:29, but it's still great.

06: Covenant Of Souls: This one starts out at a fast pace, all growling from Dan, and some solid riffing and your basic "old school death metal/Bloodbath" drumbeat behind him, then it kind of fades off like the song is ending, and you get one of the finest acoustic/progressive moments of Swano's entire career in my opinion. He includes a nice solo in the "spacey" sound, and sings a few lines as if his heart were pouring through his vocal chords, BUT...around 3:14 the metal punshes you in the face and says "wake up, I'm not done, it's time to bang your head some more". I especially enjoy the guitar work coupled by Dan's vocals at the 3:45 mark. Dan slows this one down again, and does a bit of clean singing to finish the song off.

07: Face To Face: Nice guitar work from Dan to open this one up, and he utilizes his space sound again, to the delight of my ears. He growls off a few lines and then breaks into some very fine guitar work around 1:13. He finishes out the track with some speedy riffing and growls.

08: Disintegration: FINALLY, we come to my favorite part of this record! These last two tracks are golden. This one in particular opens up with the best useage of the "spacey" sound to date, and then progresses straight into a somewhat lengthy solo. The song then establishes its main riff (supported of course by his space sound in the background) and settles into an almost doom metal mood for a few moments. It speeds up around 1:47, and Dan mainstains the intensity for the remainder.

09: This song opens up better than any other on the record, and I dare say it is the highlight of the whole CD if you had to pick just one. Dan keeps the tone metal, but sings clean for about 45 seconds, then he uses his spacey sound to progress the song into a growl-fest. Musically, he once again impresses around the 1:40 mark, and maintains a nice, melodic, intrumental "bridge" if you'd like to call it that. Dan then shows us his one weakness as a musician (that of course being drumming) as he pounds the snare like it were a cheating wife until around the 3:47 mark where he slows the pace and utilizes his singing voice along with some keyboard work and a solo that follows to end this album on a HIGH note.

In closing I'd like to say I've been a fan of Dan Swano's music for years. I've heard most of his material, everything from Unicorn to Infestdead. That being said, this is probably my favorite album he's ever released. Aquiring this record will enhance your listening pleasures as well as your metal collection.

Their Final Masterpiece - 100%

megafury, January 18th, 2004

This is the follow up of their album which was entitled, Crimson, (hence Crimson II), and I must say this is Melodic Death Metal at an extremely high point. Not melodic death metal as in all these generic swedish metal bands, this is different. The album is basically one long 40 minute plus song divided into 9 parts of high quality metal with a sophisticated art rock sense picked up from Dan Swano's Moontower.

Edge of Sanity makes great use with keyboards, the medleys from the boards enchances the song and isn't too distracting or cheesy. It melds the catchiness of pop with the intensity of metal. All the instruments flow right and work like a well oiled machine. Dan Swano's death growls keep up a strong foundation for the music but I espesially love his singing, he's not whiney, he's at right level of mellowness. Good to hear some refreshing singing to caress your ears after all the rough vocals.

There isn't one bad track, they're all important, nothing is filler. Once you listen to track one, you have to get through all nine song parts later because it's that good at holding your attention, riff after riff. I procrastinated on hearing this album for awhile and now I wish I heard it earlier. I haven't been impressed by any melodic death band for awhile. I've interviewed Dan Swano and he said the odds of ever hearing another Edge of Sanity album ever again is "1/1000000000000000 at this time". Oh well, atleast we have this album of epic proportions to have graced our CD players.

EoS are back! - 96%

PsyKoCracker, August 26th, 2003

After EoS hit their highest point with Crimson, their next 2 albums were their downfall. Now, 5 years later, Edge of Sanity has ruinited, including front man Dan Swano. Dan decided that the best approach would be a sequel to the classic Crimson.

Again, Crimson II is one long song, clocking at around 43 minutes. However, this time it's broken down into 9 chapters, and 44 parts, simply for ease.

They take no time in bringing the amazing riffs and vocals of Dan Swano into the song. It's killer right from the beginning. I also sense a lot of influence from Dan's work with Diabolical Masquerade in the riffs, which of course, is an amazing thing.

There are many re-occurring riffs, and even 2 brought back from the original.
This album is definately one of the better releases in a long time. Prog/melo-death at it's best. Dan's vocals are amazing as usual. The backup vocals sound a bit odd, but they work. EoS also bring back the sparing, but amazing use of clean vocals in prog rock-ish parts, which are what REALLY ties the song together.

I highly suggest you go out and buy this album, fans of EoS, melo-death (not gothenburg style, real stuff) and pretty much any fan of music.

Highlights: The whole song flows perfectly. The standout parts however are:
All of Incantation
Disentragotion and the beginning of Aftermath
last minute or so of Passage of Time