Examining Edge of Sanity: A Discography Breakdown

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It has been a while since my last installment of this series. Diving head first into Darkthrone‘s discography the day after finishing Opeth was a strenuous task. My mind, fresh from being melted by death metal and prog-rock, was not quite ready for the frozen landscapes I traversed. A bit of time was needed to recuperate my sanity. Two months went by and I was feeling the need for Death Metal. Truthfully, this genre is one that I don’t know much about. Yes, I like it, but I had never delved past the standards. I thought it was due time for me to expand my knowledge base. After a quick consultation with the mighty Toileteers, it seemed that Edge of Sanity was to be the best choice. Here are the results of my death metal discog diving.

Nothing But Death Remains (1991)

Edge of Sanity’s debut album is a solid slab of death metal. Nothing quite groundbreaking here, but I can hear the seeds being sown for future reaping. The start/stop riffs are jam-packed into this album and I have absolutely no problem with that at all. In fact, that was a huge draw for me upon the first spin. I was also immediately drawn to the mid-riff tempo changes, the slow sections really breath quite well and help place emphasis on the more technical and faster segments. Overall the tone is average to good; I still don’t know if I am in love with or despise the snare sound, only time will tell. Swanö’s demented growl is a huge plus in my book and the attempt at keyboard orchestration was a great idea, but I would’ve liked to hear it fleshed out a little more. The high point of this album for me would be the one-two punch of “Angel of Distress” and “Impulsive Necroplasma.” Those two songs slay everything else on this album.


Unorthodox (1992)

Unorthodox, Edge of Sanity’s second album, starts out rather, well, unorthodox. After a fairly spooky 38-second intro track, we are introduced to the first proper song, “Enigma” that starts with an interesting mishmash of orchestral strings, death metal riffs, children speaking and choral lines that are reminiscent of hymns. At this point, I was ready to turn the album off, but then the song finds its bearing and decides to crush the life out of the listener with somber harmonies and foreboding chord structures. And thus starts this horrific beast of an album. Edge of Sanity really upped their game with this album and started to forge ahead on their path of individuality. The songwriting as a whole is far more memorable, and the band does quite a phenomenal job of capturing a variety of moods within the death metal sound; the proginess is starting to show itself here. Another step up from their debut is the tone on this album. Thick, meaty, buzzsaw guitars cut through the mix, the bass is decidedly audible, the drums have improved and Swanö still sounds great. “A Curfew For the Damned” represents the album pretty well and has one of the catchiest vocal lines when Swanö belts the title out multiple times. Oh, and the string section on “When All Is Said”? So good.


The Spectral Sorrows (1993)

First and foremost, this album has one of the greatest Manowar covers that I have heard. Swanö and co. absolutely KILL(WITH POWER) on their rendition of “Blood of My Enemies.” The elation felt when I initially heard this was enough to damn near bring a tear to my eye. I could seriously go on about this forever, but I digress. Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Immediately, I am sucked in by the spectral warbling that bookends The Spectral Sorrows. Edge of Sanity then does a phenomenal job of bursting me out of that spherical space bubble and into the vastness that follows. “Darkday” is a solid mood setter, operating with an alternating fast/slow riff structure, giving me an idea of the album following, but does not prepare me for the chaos that ensues. Throughout its entirety, The Spectral Sorrows delves into many different styles and influences, more so than I have heard on the previous albums. “Lost” is dang near an NYHC track, reminding me of Madball more than anything else, and the following track “The Masque” has some very Sabbathian riffage and NWOBHM melodies. This energy and experimentation are kept up during the rest of this album, most interestingly on the song “Sacrificed,” a haunting Type O Negative-esque, electronic, horror ballad. As a whole, I must say that The Spectral Sorrows comes off as a bit scatter-brained. The inconsistencies give this album a “collection of singles” feel, if you will. This does not, however, stop me from enjoying the album.


Purgatory Afterglow (1994)

At the start of this album Edge of Sanity baffles me yet again. The softly sung intro reminds me of mid-era Opeth but soon gives way to the crunchy, chainsaw guitar that I have come to learn and love from this band. “Twilight” is an interesting song and showcases, what I believe, to be the proper keyboard usage the band strived for on their debut. The melodic sense is put into overdrive here and many harmonized riffs between bass and guitar grace the listener’s ears. After this first track, I found myself fully immersed in the twilight world that Swanö had created. As with The Spectral Sorrows, Edge of Sanity has no problem wearing their influences on their sleeves here, and the intro “Blood-Coloured” is most certainly a Black Sabbath tribute if I’ve ever heard one. Unlike its predecessor, however, this album flows better from one song to the next. A true progression can be felt as the album plays out and I found myself enjoying it more and more, especially as the band upped the melodic dosage between brutal riffs. This is not meant to down-play on the heavier sections, just to highlight the well-balanced songwriting throughout Purgatory Afterglow. The final track “Song of Sirens” is perhaps the one oddball track, as it draws from the industrial metal sound that was growing in popularity at the time and reminds me of Nailbomb.


Crimson (1996)

Crimson wastes no time with a melodic intro and punches you in the face, giving you the shock needed for the in-depth, concept song that follows. Yes, I spoke correctly when I said “song” in reference to Crimson. While the later released digital version was split into eight different songs, originally this reverent piece was a solid forty minute block of progressive death metal. With Crimson, I began to understand the Opeth comparisons that I had read about with the band. There may be some people cringing at this point but the comparisons, to me, are warranted. Both bands have a very start/stop writing style when it comes to transitions between riffs and verses, and Swanö utilizes both a beautiful clean tone along with his meaty death growls, much like Akerfeldt (except way better!). However, this is where most comparisons can cease, as each band’s music is greatly divided. Nevertheless, on to the music! Crimson is a spectacular show of storytelling and songwriting. This is by far the band’s most ambitious and cohesive album to date. Musically and lyrically, everything ties well together, and while this may seem like a daunting task, Crimson is best listened to as a whole. The narrative depicts an intricate post-apocalyptic world that finds the human race infertile and barren. With what seems to be an act of God, a daughter is born to the king, but slowly the world crumbles as a political uprising surfaces around the girl’s life. Mixed in with more rebellion and evil masters, Swanö and crew execute the story phenomenally and would work very well in novel form. As a Sci-Fi/metal/prog nerd, this album is a welcome addition to my repertoire.


Infernal (1997)

As the smooth intro gives way to the riffs “Hell Is Where The Heart Is” sends Infernal into a frenzy of melancholic heaviness and sets a slightly depressive mood upon me. However, in proper Edge of Sanity fashion, this mood is cast from my mind as the upbeat tracks that follow weave in-between death metal chugs and 70s hard rock riffing. Yet again, my mind explodes at the creativity found within this band’s music. In reality, these concepts should not meld together within the span of one song, but Edge of Sanity makes it work with a highly compelling approach. Whereas the songs flow well on their own, Infernal lacks the cohesion previously heard on Crimson and it is a real shame. Perhaps it is due to my complete amazement with Crimson‘s clarity and vision, but this album falls flat. There are solid riffs, the drums are spot-on, and Swanö once again proves his utmost competence as a well-rounded vocalist. Nevertheless, the songs feel smashed together in no particular order or progression, suffering from a worse fate than The Spectral Sorrows.


Cryptic (1997)

Here it is, the “Swanö-less” album. Cryptic seems to be a very polarizing record among fans. Having seen both positive and negative words regarding the album, I was skeptically eager to take the plunge. I jumped out and landed smack dab in the middle of a boiling pot of sludge. At first, I thought it was a fluke and that Edge of Sanity was just being themselves again, playing whatever they felt on one track and something completely different on the next. Then track 2 played, and track 3 played and so on until the whole album was over and I was still swimming in that thick, putrid sludge. And, well, I liked it. Why may you be asking? Because I love sludge metal and Cryptic sounds like Soilent Green and Crowbar had a bastard swamp child, that’s why. Now, to clarify, I like this as a one-off album and would very much like to have heard this under a different name. As an Edge of Sanity album it sticks out like a sore thumb (no Swanö, no prog, etc), there is no denying that, but there really are some phenomenal songs here. Clocking in at a brief 35 and a half minutes, the album is well worth a listen and perhaps a few more visits if it grabs you.


Crimson II (2003)

As if back from the dead and with a vengeance, Dan Swanö returns as the sole member of Edge of Sanity. Crimson II shows an evolution in the band’s sound with the Prog and Symphonic tendencies heard in the past brought to the forefront, most notably with the keyboards and synths. Whereas the band had been dabbling with these instruments before, during several movements here they take the lead providing many memorable melodies and push the buzzsaw guitars out of the limelight. Tonally, the guitars lack the rough edge and their riffs don’t have the angst that I have looked forward to with each album prior. I find this lightly off-putting and the whole album, truthfully, is refined in such a way that it sounds almost nothing like Swanö’s previous work with the band. Everything sonically on Crimson II meshes together, almost too perfectly, for my taste in an Edge of Sanity album (I know, I know… I’m weird) but does sound phenomenal. Music and production aside, Crimson II’s narrative is some of Swanö’s best worked lyrical magic. He weaves poetically and effortlessly through a sequel story set in the lifeless world of its predecessor, portraying brutal yet beautiful settings and situations. As Swanö softly sings the final couplet and the album comes to an end, I feel it stands as fitting closure for the band.

“Lest bitterness and chaos be the harvest they wouldst reap

For she must never waken from this Crimson Sleep”


Phew! That was an intense exhibition. Though not as lengthy as my previous breakdowns, this was just as educational. I have a newfound respect for Edge of Sanity and this has opened many doors for other bands and projects alike. Now… the moment you have all been waiting for… THE LIST!

My ranking of Edge of Sanity’s discography is as follows:

  1. Crimson
  2. Purgatory Afterglow
  3. Unorthodox
  4. The Spectral Shadows
  5. Crimson II
  6. Cryptic
  7. Nothing But Death Remains
  8. Infernal

I can feel a certain “NOPE” budding into fruition below, but hopefully, I haven’t caused any serious damage to anyone. Let me know below what your favorite Edge of Sanity album is and give me a list of your own.

Once again, I thank you for putting up with my ramblings of past bands and the drive all of you give me to continue. I have a large list already in mind, but if you have any specific bands you’d like to mention for me to dive into next, please do so!


Be sure and check out my previous Discog Dives for more of my goofy opinions.

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  • Space Monster W.

    Crimson >

  • Black Unbeard

    been a while since ive listened to Edge of Sanity

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Excellent writeup Boss, the disco breakdowns always give me plenty of new music to digest.

  • Joaquin Stick

    I’ve been meaning to try out another one of their albums at some point (as a new-ish disciple of King Swano, I’ve only heard Crimson), I guess now is as good a time as any. I’ll jam Purgatory Afterglow per your recommendation. Good work Bossman.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Excellent! Let me know what you think, my man!

      • Joaquin Stick

        It is definitely more melodic-leaning death metal than the prog side that comes with Crimson, but very enjoyable. The first track has been my favorite so far.

        • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

          It’s m’ favorite of theirs. Black Tears is also probably their ‘hit’ song, but Twilight>>>>>>

          • Scrimm

            Twilight and Blood Colored for me, with Elegy not far behind

  • KyleJMcBride

    Ok, I’ll try…

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      You might, MIGHT, like Cryptic.

      • KyleJMcBride

        Ok, I’ll check that one.

    • Dumpster Lung

      What’s your main kinda jam? I’m a little all over the place, but my first love was thrash.

      • KyleJMcBride

        Doom/Stoner/Sludge/Traditional, mostly like that.

        • Dumpster Lung

          Nice. Nothing wrong with that! I like a bit of everything aside from deathcore and slam, which I really can’t get behind for the most part.

  • RustyShackleford

    The BOSS has once again treated us to a discog dive of the highest quality! I must confess I’ve actually never listened to Edge of Sanity. It depends on my mood whether I’m in for a more OSDM sound or a more progressive one. I’ll have to start with the first couple, but am most excited for Crimson given your enthusiasm. Yep!

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Prior to the dive, I hadn’t either. I’m really happy I did though, lots of fun. Let me know how your dive goes!

    • Scrimm

      The first album is solid, but has nothing on the others so don’t base sole judgement on that one if you start there

    • tigeraid

      Hmm, I’m not big on death either, other than some OSDM. It has more to do with the vocal style than the music to be honest. But I’ll give this a try tonight.

      • Scrimm

        This is a good band for people who are iffy with dm IMO

        • Joaquin Stick

          Can’t agree more. Not really into dm at all, EoS rules.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          Definitely!

    • Their first album (Nothing But Death Remains) is basically pure hard-boiled OSDM, every album after that gets progressively more, uh, progressive.

      • RustyShackleford

        I like the term “progressively progressive.” When I was younger, I used to think it was hilarious when someone asked me how I was, I would respond “fantastically fantastical.” You just reminded me of that lol

  • Scrimm

    Great writeup but the clean vocals at the beginning of Enigma is the best part!!!

    I think Infernal’s problems came largely from the rift between the band and Swano at that point. One of the guitarists didn’t even perform on the album, and from what I understand Swano performed everything on his tracks himself.

    • Scrimm, which is your EoS list?

      • Scrimm

        Very difficult to choose. Unorthodox, Spectral Sorrows and Purgatory Afterglow constantly fight for the top spot, Depends what day you ask me. Right now I’d say SS, PA, and then Unorthodox. Beyond that I’d say Nothing but Death Remains, Infernal, Crimson 2 and Cryptic.

        • Dumpster Lung

          Exact same thing for me. One of those situations where the favorite is probably just the one I listened to most recently.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      I enjoyed it after the fact more, haha!

      I read alot about the friction in the band, sucks that it was that way.

  • Never heard of these guys before. The old shit is sounding rad so far!

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Happy to introduce people to great music!

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Only Swano’s vocals in Dissection’s Black Horizons is real.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      No Edge of Sanity for you?

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Totally joking. Just had to say it. Been meaning to check out Edge of Sanity for years. But never got around to it.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          Let me know what you think of you get into them.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Diabolical Masquerade or GTFO

    • ≠ Voidscape Tyree ≠

      Hahaha!

    • ≠ Voidscape Tyree ≠

      Always loved Nödtveidt’s description of that scream. Was the result of Swanö getting a “dagger into [his] asshole”.

      • Scrimm

        HAHAHA I never heard that!!

        • ≠ Voidscape Tyree ≠

          It was from an interview. I can remember which one, I’ll have to do some diggin’ to find it. KSoFM may know better than me.

    • Scrimm

      Holy shit I forgot all about that. Just got that album again too

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Hahaha, yup, I was being random. But that vocal part makes that section that much more majestic.

        • Scrimm

          Dude’s vocals are unmatched

  • Ayyy, this one is a good. I reeeeally love Crimson, one of the truest melodic death metal pieces infused with those sacred proggy elements. I listened yesterday Unorthodox and it can rival with my love for The Spectral Sorrow, too.

    I like that EoS have a very moody style, they really set apart their sound with the rest of the Swedish Death Metal bands of their era with that. It always sounds so swampy, even in Crimson. I still need to check Crimson II, btw.

    Great job resuming their discography, is a very varied one.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Thanks Link! Unorthodox js a very interesting album. I definitely should listen to it a few more times.

  • xengineofdeathx

    Excellent write up, love this band… perfect mix of elegant and nasty.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Thanks man!

  • Eliza

    I absolutely love Crimson, and I enjoy The Spectral Sorrows, but I haven’t listened to anything from Edge of Sanity beyond that. I guess now is a time as good as any to do that. If you like EoS, you should check out Pan.Thy.Monium, another one of Swano’s projects. I don’t think it’s as good, but it’s worth a shot.

    • Scrimm

      If you like those Purgatory Afterglow is probably the album you’d like the most out of the rest.

      • Eliza

        I’m definitely​ going to listen to it. I’m listening to Unorthodox right now and I really like it.

      • Dumpster Lung

        Yeah, that one’s probably tied with Spectral Sorrows as my favorite from them.

        It’s pretty much just more of everything that made Spectral Sorrows great (though unfortunately no straight-up goth rock song comes out of nowhere as a surprise on Purgatory Afterglow haha).

        • Scrimm

          I know I wish there was another one like Sacrificed

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            That song threw me for such a loop! So bad ass though.

          • Dumpster Lung

            I thought for sure it was another cover like Blood of My Enemies, but nope, they just randomly wrote that one song that sounds nothing like the others, and it’s awesome. I’d love to hear more of that.

    • Joaquin Stick

      He does way too many things. I really like the solo “Moontower” album he put out. I’ll have to check out that one too.

      • Eliza

        I’m in no way trying to keep up with all of the things he works on, that’s difficult to say the least. I haven’t listened to everything from Pan.Thy.Monium either.

      • Moontower was rad, and if I remember correctly was more or less supposed to be an Edge of Sanity record.

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Man, I freaking love Moontower.

      • Dumpster Lung

        Yep, one of my favorite albums ever. I emailed Joe back in Nov and he put it in one of the TMP articles that they were reissuing it on vinyl. I’ve actually kept in touch with Black Mark Productions and it should be any time now. By end of the month for sure. The test pressing in Dec went well.

        I’ve been fanboying out so hard over this haha. I might buy 2 copies if they let me. I don’t know lol.

        • Scrimm

          I cant wait for that. Glad you heard more cause I could not find anythign about it.

          • Dumpster Lung

            It hasn’t been mentioned anywhere at all aside from that one post here on the Toilet (and that interview, where it was first mentioned offhand, which mostly focused on the new Witherscape album from this year). Only reason I’ve heard anything is just from emailing the company directly. No hype sadly, but also that means it’s not going to instantly sell out before we can snag it, either.

            If you go to Black Mark’s site, they at least do mention it under “Releases” now, as coming soon, or something like that, but yeah, I’m just basically trying to not email too frequently and keep it in my pants, so to speak lol.

          • Scrimm

            Well thanks for turning us onto the news. I really need this

    • Pentagram Sam

      Check out the very first Nightingale album “The Breathing Shadow”.

      Clean vocals, Dan does everything. It is def a goth rock album in the old school sense, and the synth drums give off an early Trent Reznor vibe to me cos it reminds me of old pre-Downward Spiral NIN.

      Eventually Dan got his bro Dag on board and the two morphed Nightingale into a prog rock band, but that first album you could tell was a big release of ideas for Danman.

      • Dumpster Lung

        Wasn’t a lot of that material (and maybe the album after it) re-recorded in like 2005 or so? I always thought the re-recording of it was the first Nightingale album, but found out earlier this year that the project had been around a lot longer than that.

        • Pentagram Sam

          The album Nightfall Overture has the song Nightfall Overture and Dreamreader from the first album. There’s a few other re-records from II- Alive Again and a couple new songs.

          The re-records sound alot more like the live versions do since it’s a full band but for the first album songs, I still prefer the original atmosphere.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Eliza! I’ll try out Pan

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      Last time I had a cold I had a fever dream about Pan.Thy.Monium, and I still haven’t checked them out. I need to remedy that ASAP

      • Eliza

        I feel that’s a better recommendation than I could ever make.

  • Dumpster Lung

    Ugh, still been so busy with work I feel I’m not getting nearly enough Toilet Time in my life, but YEAAAAAAAAH Boss, Edge of Sanity fucking rules!

    If you ever thought your old school Swedish death metal needed more 80s Michael Bolton-style hooks, Dan’s got you covered! Seriously though, can’t get enough of that stuff.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Hahah, that is the funniest description I’ve heard yet!

  • Max

    Great write-up.

    Crimson II is much better when you edit out some of the cheesier (usually keyboard-dominated) parts. I used to have such an edit somewhere but I lost it. I’ll make it again someday…

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Thanks Max!

      That sounds like a lot of work…

      • Max

        It’s really not that difficult. Most of my edits corresponded to where the track marks on the CD were, so it was simply a case of omitting some “movements” from an iPod playlist. The trouble is that when I did it, I didn’t take my iPod’s Replay Gain feature (or whatever it’s called) into account, which means there’s some jarring volume changes between the loud stuff and the quiet stuff that is juxtaposed after my “editing.” I’ll look out for those pitfalls next time and probably get rid of the track marks altogether. (Which is kind of ironic since I always wished Crimson I HAD track marks – I got the first edition – but whatever.)

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          Ohhh, gotcha! I would be very interested to give it a listen if you get around to editing the album again.

          • Max

            Sure. I haven’t listened to Crimson II for years now, but I think from memory it got down to about 35 of the 45 (or so?) tracks. So it was still a substantial listen; just a more pleasureable one in my opinion.

            I’d be happy to post it somewhere for your convenience if I ever re-did it. That said, the whole enterprise was really just “Crimson II Redux – The Bits Max Liked”; so it wouldn’t necessarily correspond to what YOU liked about the record.

            Plus, I’m a very skilled audio editor (it’s my day job), but I wasn’t being too careful with this particular project since it was just for personal use. I’d have to do a version with more tasteful segues and such if I was gonna subject you to my curation.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            I think hearing the album through your ears would be worth the experience if you edited it down. It would be like having a conversation about Crimson II with you but without words.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    Really though dudes, when has Swano ever whiffed??

  • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

    I suggest Paradise Lost for your next feature, Boss

  • Zeke

    great write up boss man!

  • gacharicmeatspin

    Good shit. Heard about them some ten years ago on some Internet “guess the song” contest, they included Crimson twice, so I googled it and though “holy shit, 40 minute song, OMG, ‘das radical!”, so I did a dive of my own, but never got into any of their albums.

    What I did get into, is Swano’s Moontower, which is probably in my top 3 albums, if not top 1.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Moontower is outstanding!