Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Edge of Sanity - Purgatory Afterglow

Band: Edge of Sanity
Album: Purgatory Afterglow
Year: 1994
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

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.

Score: 8/10
Standout Track: Black Tears/Twilight