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Edge of Sanity - Spectral Sorrows CD (album) cover

SPECTRAL SORROWS

Edge of Sanity

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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3 stars Don't expect sweet mellow style of Opeth or the technical porwess of Cynic or Atheist. Expect lots of blood, lots... especially if you dislike brutal grunts and very, very loud music.

This what you'll listen in the third incarnation of Edge of Sanity. Brutal and gore, geysers of blood and mutilated corpses.

"Darkday", "Living Hell", "Jesus Cries", "Waiting to Die" and "Feedin' The Charlatan" (well, you know what to expect just by looking the song titles.) are straightforward insane Death metal songs: Lots of tremolo, powerful and repetitive druming and blood-curling grunts chanting lyrics of death, gore and deceased bodies. That doesn't mean that the songs are bad, there are actually good prog moments (especially in "Feedin' The Charlatan and Jesus Cries") fused in all the blood gushing cannibal that SPECTRAL SORROWS is. The problem lies if you can have the patience of listening all of the album.

In some songs like "Lost" or "Blood of my Enemies", lyrics are about Nordic Mythology, this doesn't make "Lost" a less brutal song but it's one of the more acceptable songs in the album.

"Blood of my Enemies" is where Swano and co. put on their Manowar cap and compose a worthy Hymn like song but nothing out of this world.

"A Serenade for the Dead" breaks completely the structure of the band, for it's a beatiful orchestrated song but nothing that it hasn't been done

I was surprised when I listened "Sacrificed". Me: Is this Edge of Sanity or Clan of Xymox? For those who don't know, Clan of Xymox is a darkwave or electrogoth band with rock touches. Swano's deep voice, the catchy riffs, the electronic drumming and prominent bass line got me hooked from the beginning even thoug the song is somewhat simple.

"The Masque", "Across the Fields of Forever" and "On the Other Side" are the highlights of the album: Lots of tempo changes, diverse drumming (sometimes) and good acoustic passages and piano passages.

It's a great Death Metal album but lacks the right type of punch to be a good prog album. Recommendable for fans of Bloodbath, Sceptic Flesh and near Brutal Death Metal Fans 3 stars.

Report this review (#66550)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Spectral Sorrows" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Edge of Sanity. The album was released through Black Mark Productions in November 1993. Although bassist Anders Lindberg is credited as a member of the band, he actually didn´t play on "The Spectral Sorrows" due to serving mandatory Swedish military service. All bass on the album was performed by guitarist Andreas "Dread" Axelsson. While the two previous studio albums were recorded at Montezuma Studio in Stockholm, "The Spectral Sorrows" was recorded at lead vocalist Dan Swanö´s own Unisound Recordings.

The band didn´t waste any time in their early years, and "The Spectral Sorrows" is their third studio album in as many years. "Unorthodox (1992)" showed a progressive development of the bands sound compared to the slightly technical yet ultimately old school Swedish death metal sound of "Nothing but Death Remains (1991)". Therefore it´s no surprise that "The Spectral Sorrows" sees Edge of Sanity pursue new adventures and branch out even further.

The music on the 13 track, 54:02 minutes long album is still predominantly a well balanced mix of old school Swedish death metal and progressive rock/metal elements, but there are more new features on "The Spectral Sorrows". They´ve for example begun to incorporate more melodic guitar themes, and keyboards are used more on this album too compared to the predecessors. The vocals are still predominantly intelligible growls, but there are some clean vocals on the album too. Featured most prominantly on the cover of "Blood of My Enemies" by Manowar. A cover which at the time was quite the bold move for a death metal act. But it doesn´t stop there as Edge of Sanity have also included a full fledged goth rock track in "Sacrificed" on the album (featuring deep register male vocals and all). It´s like listening to a Sisters of Mercy song. While those two tracks stand out the most from the rest of the material, the Andreas "Dread" Axelsson led "Feedin' the Charlatan" is also quite different with it´s thrash/hardcore sound.

Other than those three tracks and the two shorter instrumentals which bookend the album, the remaining 8 tracks are more "regular" old school death metal with varying degrees of progressive leanings. To my ears highligts (among those 8 tracks) include "Darkday", "Lost", "The Masque", and "Jesus Cries", but the remaining tracks are also of a high quality. It´s an album where you´ll discover new details with every spin and tracks you initially thought sounded pretty simple, often reveal further depth and more details when listening a bit more focused to the music.

The diversity of the material makes the overall listening experience a bit fragmented and stylistically inconsistent, and I used to think of it as an issue (I´m sure there are others who share that opinion). Having listened to "The Spectral Sorrows" several times over the years though, the many musical styles, and how they are presented on the album, have grown to a strength in my opinion. There´s always something new happening, and no track sounds like the one before it, which also means that all tracks are memorable. I could have done without "Feedin' the Charlatan", which I feel is of a sub par compositinal quality, but the rest of the material (including "Blood of My Enemies" and "Sacrificed") is of a high quality and is loaded with intriguing details. "The Spectral Sorrows" features a well produced and distinct sounding production, and the musicianship is on a high level too, so upon conclusion a 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#148263)
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Judged from a death metal point of view, Edge of Sanity's third is probably better then Unorthodox. I've never spent much time with it but given my grown enjoyment of Unorthodox, I gave it another round of spins in the car. Belgian traffic statistics noticed a steady growth of incidents!

This album is as fun as death metal gets. Fast riffing, constant tempo changes, brutally low bass and with Dan Swanö, this band has one of the best death metal throats ever. In fact, he has the doubtful honour of winning me over to death metal vocals. But that wasn't about to happen till a few albums later.

As with most metal albums I find it difficult to single out tracks. Everything follows the same template, so only the extent by which a certain riff appeals more to me then the next one, makes me appreciate one song a bit more or less then those around it. The only few exceptions would be Blood of My Ennemies, Sacrificed and Feeding the Charlatan. On the first, Swanö tries to recreate the Nordic spirit of Bathory with a forceful Viking chant. Unfortunately it's a rather weak track. On Sacrificed he pays tribute to the Sisters of Mercy. Not to say it's a Lucretia / Vision Thing rip off. He has the right voice for it but the song isn't convincing again. Feeding the Charlatan is an attempt at hardcore.

It's a fine album when it just sticks to death metal. The few experiments outside that comfort zone are few and unsatisfactory. It's good, but a definite style album for fans of the genre. 2.5 stars

Report this review (#264572)
Posted Saturday, February 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A Wonderful Death Metal Journey

The Spectral Sorrows is an interesting album, to say the very least. While Edge of Sanity's previous album, Unorthodox, was pretty standard death metal, The Spectral Sorrows is quick to change that. The band's third album is still (very) firmly rooted in the Swedish death metal scene, but you should expect to hear goth rock, progressive rock/metal, traditional heavy metal, and of course some brutal death metal packed inside of this very unique album.

As mentioned earlier, The Spectral Sorrows is hard to pin down as just one genre. This is a diverse album, and it will appeal to people with diverse tastes of music. If you're just looking for pure death metal, you will most likely be disappointed with this album. Of course, if you're okay with some variation this shouldn't be a problem at all! One of my biggest issues with many death metal releases is that the formula becomes tired and overused by the end of the album. That is not the case with this album. Whenever the standard death metal formula begins to get a little tiring, there is usually a song that will serve as a perfect breaking point between the death metal intensity.

The best songs on The Spectral Sorrows depends on what you are looking for. If you're looking for death metal, most of the album will surely impress you. You'll find some killer riffs on this album. If you're looking for proggy stuff, like Crimson, songs like Across The Fields of Forever, On The Other Side, and Lost should appeal to you, as well as the surprisingly beautiful A Serenade For The Dead. If you're in search of goth rock, Sacrificed and the Manowar cover, Blood of My Enemies should appeal to you. Clearly, The Spectral Sorrows will appeal to a wide variety of metalheads.

The musicians in Edge of Sanity are fantastic, despite all of their disagreements on later albums. Though Benny Larson's drumming, Andreas Axelsson's and Sami Nerberg's guitars are fantastic, Dan Swanö takes the cake. He is one of my musical idols, and I will always worship his godliness at the microphone, not to mention his superb songwriting.

The production is perfect for this kind of music. It's crushingly heavy, yet sophisticated enough to deliver a satisfying experience to any audiophile. Börje Forsberg and Edge of Sanity completely nailed the production on The Spectral Sorrows. Dan Swanö's brilliant mixing and engineering is worth noting as well.

Conclusion:

The Spectral Sorrows took a while for me to appreciate, but I've eventually grown to love it. I'm very glad that I dedicated a lot of time in an attempt to appreciate The Spectral Sorrows, because it is now one of my favorite Edge of Sanity albums. Of course, it doesn't rank up there with Crimson, Crimson II, or Purgatory Afterglow, but it is still an excellent 4 star album. Highly recommended to open minded death metal fans.

4 stars.

Report this review (#280270)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Dan Seagrave is like Roger Dean's twisted psychotic cousin. The album cover here is another one of those landscape situations where if you somehow wake up to find yourself within this illustration, the first thing to cross your mind would be "Where the hell am I?" followed by "I'm in deep trouble". Gloomy, vicious and crazed heaviness combine with some experimentation to make this one of the more enjoyable death metal albums of the early 90s.

Boasting that monstrous buzzsaw Swedish death metal sound of the era (think early Entombed and Dismember), when the intro stuff segues into the thrashy death metal rhythms, it's a real treat thanks to a powerful production on all instruments...except for the snare drum, which has this garage band timbre for some reason. The riffs are strong and rush towards the listener from many angles, not fixating on the open low string like other bands of this ilk often do, but utilizing the fretboard quite well to keep things interesting. The faster tempos tend to hover in the fast thrash (think Slayer) zone as opposed to blastbeats, which pop up only a couple of times. Such is sort of the norm for the old-school Swedish style, and blastbeats really aren't missed here regardless. Guitar melodies combine with dark and cruel riffage to create this monstrous tapestry, yet guitar solos are a rarity, popping up moreso to add atmosphere than 'showiness'. Dan Swano's vocals are rough and monstrous, even better than the band's previous offering, adding muscle to the already punishing music.

Granted, some of the more straightforward death metal tunes have adventurous or flat-out mellow moments that gives the band a bit of identity, but one of the major interests concerning this album are the full fledged deviations from the basic signature sound. There's a Manowar cover with Dan singing like a crazed Robert E. Howard creation, and a tune called "Sacrificed" that you could play to your local goth girl and instantly win her friendship, at least until you start pushing Yes on her. "Feedin' the Charlatan" has Dan shouting in a more hardcore punk fashion over the heavy riffs giving the song an effective 'crossover' sound. There's also your ambient keyboard epilogue number, but that's not straying too far from the norm.

Years and years later, this release remains to my ears as one of the better Swedish death metal offerings thanks not just to the experimentations, but to the high quality of the more raging tracks. Personally, although I admire and respect what the band did in Crimson, it doesn't get a whole lot of spins since I need to be in the right frame of mind with 40 minutes of straight free time, and that doesn't happen too often these days for me. Albums like this one and their more straightforward prior release, Unorthodox, get most of my attention, with this album winning out as my personal favorite Edge Of Sanity release.

Report this review (#819062)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2012 | Review Permalink

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