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Album Review

Sweden's Edge of Sanity was coming off a competently executed, but rather one-dimensional death metal debut when they unleashed 1992's sophomore Unorthodox. And its title really says it all, as the group swiftly set about proving that they were anything but a bunch of death metal purists along the lines of compatriots like Unleashed or Carnage. A perfect example, aptly titled seven-minute opener "Enigma" is actually a death metal operetta consisting of three "psalms" (as the band labels them), and featuring vocalist Dan Swano and guitarist Andreas Axelsson acting the roles of "priest" and the so-called "unorthodox," while supported by a female singer ("the witch") and even a cello. Following upon this shocking display of maturity and depth, the two-minute mosher "Incipience to the Butchery" (recast from the band's 1989 "Euthanasia" demo) is obviously meant to act as a peace pipe for unconvinced old-school fans. This at once cautious, but insistently brazen philosophy persists as the album unfolds, with main man Swano carefully upholding the band's covenant with death metal's core elements of violence and aggression, while continually driving his charges toward greater variety and risk-taking by way of added dynamic textures and melodies. As such, close-minded traditionalists can cling to energetic but simplistic thrash-outs like "Beyond the Unknown" and "Cold Sun" like a safety blanket, while game adventurers can enjoy the complexities presented by excellent tracks such as "In the Veins/Darker Than Black," "Everlasting," and "Dead but Dreaming." Finally, Unorthodox's closing track, "When All Is Said," is hands down its most revolutionary, incorporating piano and string sections into a leaden, creeping doom metal grind — all among the many styles Edge of Sanity would begin exploring in earnest with their follow-up effort, 1993's The Spectral Sorrows.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Vocalist and guitarist Dan Swano was the creative force behind the Swedish death metal band Edge of Sanity, which also included guitarists Dread and Sami Nerberg, along with bassist Anders Lundberg and drummer Benny Larsson. Edge of Sanity's recordings include their debut Nothing But Death Remains, Unorthodox, The Spectral Sorrows, Until Eternity Ends, 1994's Purgatory Afterglow, and 1996's Crimson. For 1997's Cryptic,...
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Unorthodox, Edge of Sanity
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