Sunday Old School: Edge Of Sanity
Band Photo: Edge Of Sanity (?)
Oh Sweden, sometimes you are too good to us. The Scandinavian country has long been one of rock and metal's biggest exporters, giving the world such great punk bands as Anti Cimex and Disfear, as well arguably the most creative death metal in history with the likes of the melodic In Flames and Dark Tranquillity, as well as the brutal, Unleashed and the progressive, Opeth. Speaking of progressive death metal, that's another area we'll be exploring today, as we take a look at another of Sweden's more daring extreme bands, Edge Of Sanity.
Edge Of Sanity were formed in Finspång, a small town in the Östergötland county in 1989 by Dan Swanö, a multi instrumentalist who recruited guitarists Andreas Axelsson and Sami Nerberg, in addition to bass player Anders Lindberg and drummer Benny Larsson to complete the lineup. The quintet recorded their first demo, "Euthanasia" that same year, before releasing three more ("Kur-Nu-Gi-A," "The Dead" and "The Immortal Rehearsals") in 1990. These demos along with a growing live reputation were enough to catch the attention of Black Mark Records, who soon snapped up the band and released their debut album, "Nothing But Death Remains" in 1991.
"Nothing But Death Remains" was received positively by death metal fans, but was unable to break them into the limelight that their compatriots such as Entombed were enjoying. Nevertheless, the band quickly returned to the studio for three more demos, before releasing their sophomore full length, "Unorthodox" in 1992. This was the record that saw Edge Of Sanity become more like the band metal listeners are more familiar with today, displaying their progressive influences on such tracks as "Enigma," which was notable for being one of, if not the first, death metal track to feature clean singing, as well as the seven minute, "When All Is Said."
Experimentation would continue for their next album, 1993's, "The Spectral Sorrows," on which Anders Lindberg was unable to perform due to military service, leaving Axelsson to perform double duties. The album contained more clean singing than "Unorthodox" and was notable for the goth rock styled, "Sacrificed," as well as a cover of the Manowar song, "Blood of my Enemies" and multi faceted, "Jesus Cries," which utilised a variety of genres. It has gone on to become one of their most beloved albums to date and is frequently cited by metal critics as an essential to the collection of any fan of progressive death metal.
Continuing their habit of releasing an album a year, in 1994 the band released an EP, "Until Eternity Ends" before unleashing their fourth album, "Purgatory Afterglow." The album was notable for spawning the band's first music video for the song, "Black Tears" and was received perhaps just as warmly as its predecessor, cementing their place as one of metal's most revered progressive groups.
Such an accolade enabled them to work on a highly ambitious project, their fifth album, "Crimson," which featured only one song, though it did clock in at exactly 40 minutes. It was a concept record, telling the story of a post Apocalyptic world in which mankind has lost the ability to breed and is ruled by a king and queen who bear the last living child. The gamble paid off, at least in terms of acclaim, with critics and fans raving about the release, which also boasted a guest appearance from Opeth frontman, Mikael Åkerfeldt.
Following such an ambitious undertaking, tensions and differences began to develop, leading the band's next album, "Infernal" to a damper reception than their previous works. The uneasiness was mostly a result of friction between Axelsson and Swanö and as a result, only Benny Larsson performed on every track, causing "Infernal" to sound patchy and inconsistent and eventually, Swanö quit the band, with his place being taken by Robert Karlsson of Pan.Thy.Monium. Karlsson would only record one album with Edge Of Sanity, "Cryptic," which was also released in 1997. Unfortunately, neither fans or critics were enamoured with the release (though it has gone on to be viewed more favourably by fans in later years) and so the group decided to call it a day, with a posthumous compilation album, "Evolution" following in 1999.
In 2003, Dan Swanö announced a reactivation of Edge Of Sanity, though surprisingly it was as a one man band, with help from session musicians. This was all for a sequel to "Crimson," entitled appropriately enough, "Crimson II," which again contained only one song and lasted for 43 minutes. The album received a warm response but Swanö felt that this was a fitting end to the band and so once more, Edge Of Sanity was laid to rest. Nearly fifteen years on, fans hoping for a reunion are still holding their breath while Swanö has released a string of other projects including Nightingale and Witherscape, as well as working with fellow Swedes, Bloodbath and Katatonia. Whether or not a full reformation ever occurs, Edge Of Sanity will forever remain one of Sweden's most revered death metal bands and a must for the collection with an affinity for the genre.
Edge Of Sanity - "Human Aberration"
Edge Of Sanity - "Enigma"
Edge Of Sanity - "Sacrificed"
Edge Of Sanity - "Black Tears"
Edge Of Sanity - "Crimson"
Edge Of Sanity - "Hell Is Where The Heart Is"
Edge Of Sanity "Uncontrol Me"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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