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Bound By Black Tears - 91%

Exceedingly Aggitated, November 2nd, 2016

For my monies worth, Purgatory Afterglow holds the real title of Edge Of Sanity's magnum opus (no disrespect to Crimson). The album holds up all of the characteristics of classic metal albums such as The Number of The Beast of Master of Puppets, in which songs that hold up incredibly well as individual compositions seamlessly flow together to tell an overarching musical story. While neither of the aforementioned albums nor Purgatory Afterglow are true concept albums, there is a real cohesion in all three of them in how the albums pace themselves.

Edge of Sanity's style on this album can be best described as progressive melodic death metal. While many extreme metal bands of the time pushing the genre's boundaries and incorporating more progressive styles had highly technical music, EoS is all about the riffs. With absolutely no musical wankery to be found here, the album is driven solely by the power of it's riffs and the quality of the overall songwriting. That's not to say that the musicians on the album don't give fantastic performances, but the music doesn't use technicality to hide insecure writing. Most of the riffs could be played by a guitarist at an intermediate skill level.

The album opener "Twilight", begins with an eerie synth progression underneath Dan Swano's baritone crooning of "I close your eyes and whisper 'Goodbye'. You will never see how I cry". There's a certain amount of introspection and pain in this album not commonly found in extreme metal. In fact, there's a really strong goth rock vibe throughout much of the album, especially on "Twilight" and "Black Tears". Many of the melodies and vocal patterns found in these songs bring to mind The Cure more so than Morbid Angel. The disparaging elements on the album are what make it so special, and many of these elements are present in "Twilight". This sort of dynamic to the music is shown at around the 5:00 mark, where a creepy spoken word passage is abruptly ended with Dan's growling "NOOOOO" which segues into the melodic and melancholic chorus.

That's not to say that the album is lacking in brutality, as the second track "Of Darksome Origin" more than demonstrates with it's heavy use of blast beats, tremolo picking, death growls punctuated by high shrieks. Other highlights on the album include the dramatic and complex "Silent", the poppy and anthemic "Black Tears" and the moody and crushing "Velvet Dreams".

The album is book-ended with "The Singer Of The Sadness" and "Song of Sirens" which are both quite straightforward tracks compared to most of what makes up the album. "Singer" is an unbelievably effective mid-tempo headbanging death metal song condemning religion, while "Sirens" sounds like... dare i say... mid 90's era Sepultura? On paper it sounds like a horrible way to end the album, but it works super fucking well, with the track descending into a cacophony of distorted samples of voices culminating in a final scream.

While earlier I pointed EoS's eschewing of technicality, favoring simple riffs and carefully constructed songwriting, I do feel the album could benefit from some more technical elements and abrupt changes, as the ones that are present work wonderfully well and while usually brief, provide some of the coolest moments on the album. This is definitely EoS's finest work, and I'd recommend it to anybody new to the band looking for an interesting and unique take on death metal.

We're in the twilight world tonight - 84%

Ecliptik, June 13th, 2012

This piece has been in my arsenal for several years now. I actually snatched it up on a whim back when I was new to the metal world (13, 14 perhaps?). And looking back, I can't even remember why. The artwork isn't anything special and I had only heard of the band in passing, not really knowing anything about them. I gave the album a quick spin, then swiftly discarded it into what has grown to be my "forgotten" pile. But after some recent excavation of said heap, I believe I have found something worth acclaim in "Purgatory Afterglow".

Having very little to no recollection of my initial once-over of the album all those years ago, I hit play on 'Twilight' with open-minded (albeit apprehensive) enthusiasm. My ears were met with soft layered synthesizers and overtly melancholic vocals. The song then lurches into action with some really catchy riffs and a guitar tone that, for some strange reason, immediately made me think that this is what Fleshcrawl would sound like if they went progressive. Weird... but then the vocals came back and now things are getting interesting. This time they have a massive Paul Kuhr-esque inflection, which carries just wonderfully with this deathy/doomy/sludgy goulash that's being cranked out. The song goes on in this fashion for about 4 minutes until it breaks into a fairly ominous spoken passage, which is promptly broken with a thunderous, "Will we ever meet again? NOOO!" Great, heavy stuff.

And so the opening track gives way to the equally impressive 'Of Darksome Origin'. Again, very heavy and catchy as hell. The production is fantastic, keeping lots of focus on emphasizing the simultaneously sludgy and sonic guitar tones, as well as giving those doomy vocals their much deserved attention. Benny Larrson's drumming is concise and neat; never going over the line or getting too technical or aggressive.

Follow-up tunes 'Blood-Colored' and 'Silent' pretty much flow through the same vein. But considering just how well it works, there's nothing wrong with that. It stays fresh and gripping. 'Black Tears' is an interesting piece as well; with some clean, almost ghostly vocals. It's a nice change of pace.

This does, unfortunately, lead me to the two stinkers of the album: 'Elegy' and 'Velvet Dreams'. And even though both follow essentially the same formula as the preceding pieces, and they do have their moments, they just seem a little... off. Ultimately, they both kind of just start and plod on and on, pretty much completely aimlessly, until they are over. 'Velvet Dreams' is exceptionally difficult to endure considering its 7 minutes long. Ouch...
Luckily though, the last 3 tracks get their act back together and all come out winners.

Uncovering this lost gem was a complete score on my end, and has sparked a curiosity to investigate what else I may be hiding from myself. All I know is that if they are anywhere near as gripping and engaging as "Purgatory Afterglow", then I'm in for some pretty heavy surprises.

An excellent release - 85%

tcgjarhead, February 9th, 2011

Purgatory Afterglow is where Edge of Sanity decided to start moving more in the direction of progressive death metal. The album does contain a few elements that are not usually found in your run of the mill death metal. This will probably scare away the people who are more interested in the aggression and “brutality” of death metal but it makes the band/album far more unique than most in the genre, at least at the time of its release

The album does have its progressive moments. Twilight contains two softer interludes where just keys are playing as Dan Swano sings or speaks over them. My favorite part of the song is actually in the second interlude where he asks “Will we ever meet again?” and immediately followed by a blood curdling “NO”. It’s moments like this that make the album so great. You have the soft music that is shattered by the death growl and return of the heavier riffs and drumming. What a contrast!

Want to see just how far the band will take their progressive influences? In comparison to something like the acoustic part in Silent, which is nice, it doesn’t hold a candle to the awesomeness that is Black Tears. The song has a very strong punk vibe to it but the buzzsaw guitars and funny tone presented by Andreas Axelsson, and Sami Nerberg allow it to remain heavy. Swano also puts his great singing voice to use here as well, not one death growl is heard on this song.

This all isn’t to say the album doesn’t contain any aggression! This is still a death metal album after all. At times the guitars are very thrashy and as I mentioned that guitar tone only amplifies this heaviness with its crushing sound. Elements of the drumming help as well, both Elegy and Of Darksome Origin contain blasts right off the bat and the entire album is peppered with them. Benny Larsson is very competent and his drumming fits whichever style the music has taken on.

As vocalist Dan Swano really shines. His clean vocals are on the lower side giving his singing a very manly sound. And even when he does sing over heavier music on songs like Blood Colored, it doesn’t at all sound out of place. In fact on that song he switches between harsh and clean vocals quite a bit and it sounds wonderful. The only song where he slips up is on Song of Sirens. Here he uses more of a hardcore shout but the entire song is strange even for an album containing Black Tears and it sounds like it could have been a b-side to Wolverine Blues.

What Edge of Sanity has done with Purgatory Afterglow is made a unique and sonically pleasing slab of death metal. It contains just enough of aggression, prog, and catchiness (oh that Swedish groove!) to make all the songs on the album memorable. While Crimson is often considered their magnum opus it’s safe to say that Purgatory Afterglow isn’t too far behind in terms of quality.

Originally reviewed at http://abaddonsmetalshop.blogspot.com/

Absolutely Amazing. Swano at his best. - 95%

EoS_Twilight, October 6th, 2008

Edge of Sanity is(was) quite an enigma in music, switching from classic Swedish Death Metal at the beginning of their illustrious careers to releasing one of the most epic pieces of music as their magnum opus, Crimson. But somewhere between these two stages falls Purgatory Afterglow, one of the most intense and brutal releases of their career, but also the most varied album they ever recorded. Purgatory Afterglow is such a brilliant piece of work, but under the shadow of the legendary album to follow, it seems to be disregarded as simply a prequel to Crimson when in many ways, Purgatory Afterglow surpasses that album. To start, the production job done by vocalist Dan Swano suits the music perfectly, something almost impossible to accomplish on an album this varied.

Whether behind the mixing boards or the mic, Swano is certainly the highlight on the album. His ability to switch between an almost inhuman growl to hauntingly amazing clean vocals is simply outstanding. From the opening section of Twilight to the punishing growls of The Sinner and the Sadness, Swano shows why he has become one of the most widespread and respected names in heavy metal today. Behind Swano lie the twin killing of Sami Nerburg and Andreas "Dread" Axellson on guitars. Thanks in great part to the previously mentioned production job by Swano, Edge of Sanity's axemen deliver a punishing assault that’s not only heavy and reminiscent of the bands death metal roots, but is also catchy enough to stick in your head for days after listening to the album. The primary riff on Twilight remains one of my favorite sections of any song to this day.

The rhythm section of Anders Lindberg on Bass and Benny Larsson on drums get the job done without doing anything spectacular. The drumming fits the music perfectly, flashing to a flurry of double bass at times and slowing down for more rocking numbers such as Black Tears and Elegy. Lindberg's bass work is slightly buried in the production, but like the drums, fits the music well and stands out when it needs to.

Twilight is the standout track on the album for me, as it has remained one of my personal favorites since I first heard it transition from the atmospheric beginning passage to the punishing riff that follows. Black Tears is another track that stands out, but may cause some fans to hesitate, as the album shows almost no trace of the bands death metal roots, but instead showcases EoS's ability to integrate and more rocky feel to the music. Song of Sirens is the one track to be ignored, and all that is keeping this album from perfection. The song seems to showcase itself as a failed attempt at writing modern New York Hardcore. Needless to say it’s nothing to write home about, or write anywhere about for that matter. But it is still not enough to bring the album down much, it still presents as a heavy metal classic, and one of my favorite albums ever.

Standout Tracks - Twilight, Blood-Colored, Black Tears, and Elegy.

Guys I'd Go Gay For - Part I - 90%

OzzyApu, December 2nd, 2007

Dan Swanö

The minimal talk relating to Edge Of Sanity led me to listen to their first three albums. However, it only took the first track of Purgatory Afterglow to give me a raging boner. Either due to the fact that I was watching porn or had a picture of Swanö up, the fact remains clear – Purgatory Afterglow holds some damn fine material.

Now I’m not gay or anything, but Swanö has two things going for him: his manliness and his vocals. Aside from the stellar production job (improving greatly off of The Spectral Sorrows), Swanö issues more clean singing and growling, none of which hampers the music. While Edge Of Sanity remain a death metal band at heart, the album leans more progressively than the previous ones, and we can only blame Dan for such a move. Compared to the other releases, Purgatory Afterglow actually sounds much more diverse and full of substance, so expect tracks ranging from heavy, catchy, tranquil, and thrashy - all supplied by lyrical depth of some sort concerning fantasy, inner emotions, our damned world, and at least once on every album, Jesus.

All in all, the guitarists definitely stepped their game up, because the rhythm and lead work became fifty billion times more filthy and infectious than before. The riffs throughout all the songs have some sort of evil, buzzy, melodic distortion and flow to them that isn’t too repetitive or typical, giving us that cool, progressive vibe. Solos do not appear on every track, which isn’t anything to bicker about, since despite the track lengths, all the members can keep you interested in every way possible… listening wise that is…

Drumming stays in pace with the rhythm of the song, so nothing special usually comes out of it. Don’t fret though, since technicality isn’t necessary if the drums qualify as relentless and precise. The worst possible job in the field of this album would be from the bass. Unless a bass booster exists and works while you listen to this, you’ll have to stick your ears up to your speakers if you want to hear them. The bass clearly does add a bit of fresh heaviness to the entire album, which would have been a thin distortionfest without them.

Swanö easily takes my cake for the hottest guy of the group. Presumably twenty-one years old at the time of this release, his vocal work shifts between angelic and semi-demonic, equally attracting men from both worlds. Nothing guttural about the growls, so normally anyone can make out what the stud wants to say. When he goes clean on our asses, Dan’s vocals soothe our souls in a layer of warmth that only my blanket can touch, even in the naughty places.

Not much to say about the rest of his friends, other than they range from average to DO NOT WANT. Nonetheless, the album wins my vote as a top-notch death metal album with tendencies to sway in a way that will attract progressive fans to not the heaviest of extreme albums, but a unique one. A rather unorthodox album, Mr. Swanö, a rather unorthodox album…

A Hit and Miss Effort - 74%

Falconsbane, November 7th, 2003

Over the years, metal fans have been more than a little susceptible to what I call "Christ Syndrome," the near Messianic cult status which fanboys occasionally attach to their idols. For various reasons, but mostly due to sheer prolificacy, such a cult of personality has been built up over the years around the person of Dan Swano. The prevailing "Dan can do no wrong" attitude has created a reputation for Edge of Sanity that really isn't borne out by reality. The band's early recordings were decidedly second tier death metal, solid releases yes, but essentially derivative of Entombed, Carnage and Dismember, while "Crimson" and the band's subsequent recordings were pitiful novelty rock in superficially "death metal" clothing.

"Purgatory Afterglow" marked the one genuine attempt by Edge of Sanity to make a lasting mark in death metal, and while it doesn't entirely succeed, it is by no means a failure. Where it succeeds is in fusing a pared down Stockholm death metal aesthetic with the spontaneous, anthemic and subtly epic ethos of Angel Witch. The result is accessible yet intellectually rewarding death metal (Twilight, Of Darksome Origin, Silent, Velvet Dreams and The Sinner and the Sadness). Where it fails, it descends into the purely saccharine (Blood-Colored and Black Tears, which wouldn't seem out of place on a Three Doors Down record) or a senseless jockcore stomp (Song of Sirens). While "Purgatory Afterglow" is never going to stand alone as a classic, it is ultimately a rewarding and worthwhile album if you can pick it up used.

Almost musical perfection. - 95%

BabySchraiberJesus, August 17th, 2003

I ordered this quite a while ago off of Century Media's mail order. When I heard it, it was instantly in the top level of CDs I'd ever heard. This is one of the most melodic and beautiful albums I've ever heard, and it even manages to bring the riffage once in a while.

I think that the best way to classify this album is "pop metal" The melodic leads are incredibly smooth and catchy, and extended just the right amount of time, then changed, to make sure that you are drawn in and want to keep listening. Behind the leads lies a low, buzzy guitar playing power chords, harkening back to Edge of Sanity's roots as a Stockholm-style death metal band. Dan Swanö's vocals are something to be reckoned with as well, providing excellent growls backed by some truly powerful clean vocals. When juxtaposed, as in Blood Colored, it creates a nice atmosphere. The drums are really nothing special, just keeping the beat, playing along with the guitar. The bass is virtually inaudible... or at least I don't know what to listen for to hear it. But neither of those really matter. If this were just the guitars playing away, I would still buy it. Some of my favorite leads are in the openner, Twilight, and the all-clean-vocals hit Black Tears.

Then, comes the last song on this album. Guaranteed to give you a big ol "o_O" the first time you hear it, it is the reason I couldn't give this a 99 or 100. The guitars are neither melodic nor well written, the vocals aren't even done by Swanö and the lyrics are sketchy. However, it's short, and easily overlooked. Then the album ends with about 10 3-second-long tracks of silence. Don't bother me, but it could be a problem if you put the CD on shuffle.

There's only one thing you can do. Go to your favorite internet mailorder, indie record store, or whereever you can, and BUY THIS ALBUM. If you like In Flames and Dark Tranquillity, you'll love this.