Edge of Sanity was once a little something whipped up by Dan Swanö.
If you do not know the Dan, you should be gobbling the cocks of other
chavs right now, you scum of the earth, unworthy of metal’s treasures
scumbag! Anyway, Edge’s style of proggy death metal was received pretty
positively, and then at one point, Mr. Swanö was all “Fuck it, why
should albums have more than one song? All ideas I have can be fit in
one, I’m sure. Now where’s that acid and note block…”. Danny got
writing. Danny kept writing. And Danny managed to combine all of his
ideas into one massive epic piece of progressive death metal, spanning
40 minutes to the second. Before, this kind of stuff was reserved for
Jethro Tull or Mike Oldfield. Now we have massive growls, thundering
guitars, epic solos, subtle synths, and lyrics about an evil queen
spawning hell upon her land, doing the one song thing even better than
the aforementioned tall trees.
What the fuck do you expect when you can make a single 40 minute
song stay interesting and varied while still keeping everything tied
together enough to entirely justify the one-song format? Of course it’s a
fucking 10, you dickwads. Danny’s made this shit work
by balancing everything out perfectly. There’s surprise twists in the
music that make you go “Whoa, what was that?”, making perfect
transitions between quieter and louder sections and back. Some parts are
entirely un-metal; synthed melancholy ascribing to the death of the
king, or psychedelic reverbing vocals when the king’s spirit tell his
men to go beat the crap out of his daughter. There are still enough
pieces that tie everything together, however. Recurring riffs make the
whole thing feel as a whole as much as any random song. Here they just
tie together 40 minutes instead of 4. It’s really quite an astonishing
feat, and the only proof we have that it wasn’t just a huge lucky shot
is “Crimson II”.
Sadly, the production is a bit flawed, although it’s a minor flaw.
Epic grandness is always best conveyed using a thick but clear
production. Swedish death metal is best conveyed using an ugly and heavy
production. Here, it doesn’t really reach either, and much of the album
sounds a bit thin and slightly fuzzy, and not all instruments get the
punch they deserve. But on the other hand, they are all audible, and the
mix is pretty fine. The vocals are a bit high in there all in all, but
hey, fuck it, they are awesome enough to warrant that. A 7 seems appropriate.
Nothing to complain about here. There’s great variety in riffing and
soloing, and some of the more melodic lines are memorable and could
even be called iconic. Put ‘em on and despite the length of the song you
can immediately say “hey, that’s “Crimson“”, no matter where in the
song you are, and the guitar work is largely to thank for this. Of
course, this is a matter of both songwriting and execution, but one
can’t live without the other. But when the execution is done this well,
with such great diversity, a 9 is the least it will have to do with.
Speaking of diversity! Danny boy prefers his thick and meaty growl
more than anything else, but his heavy and somber clean work is
spine-chilling and a highlight every time it comes to pass. 27:11 into
the song, there’s a gorgeous lament on the Queen’s trickery causing mass
suicide, ending with a massive, absolutely unholy growl that can
shatter brick walls. A perfect example of Dan’s ability to sing
different styles and pull each one of flawlessly and connect them
seamlessly. There’s just no way to give this less than a perfect 10.
As often, bass takes the backseat. It does what it needs to do,
driving most of the heavy parts with a heavy foundation, but it never
takes the spotlight and never stands out. You can’t say anything for it
or anything against it, so I will simply finish this section by tossing
in a 7,5 for effort and moving on.
Appropriately heavy and thankfully, not much overuse of snares which
is often my biggest pet peeve in death or black metal. Pound my fucking
skull in, please, I enjoy the sound of toms and heavy-as-fuck bass
drums. The drums only really show their glamour when you pay attention
to it specifically, not drawing away attention from the vocals and
guitars, the highlights of the album. But when you do focus on them, you
notice the fucking fills that fill every nook and cranny of potential
dead space. A true accomplishment and warranting another 9.
All the above are good reasons why this album is so awesome. This
here is the other half of it. Normally I wouldn’t score an album high on
the lyrics alone, but nothing gives me a raging boner like
post-apocalyptic, or rather re-apocalyptic epics featuring the human
race withering away, a demonic queen rising to finish the job with a
legion of demons, chambers filled with crimson water that acts like a
Sarlacc stomach, devouring their souls rather than their bodies. The
best way to experience the story is just listen to the whole thing with
the lyrics present, so I advise you to do so. Right now. 10.
A 3 when you look at it from afar, a 7
when you pull it up close. The combination of psychedelic colors is
quite awful and the vats of crimson waters the lyrics refer to seem like
strange red blobs in the colorful buzz until you get to see the whole thing
up close. Then you can suddenly discern the details much better and
appreciate the dark, bleak imagery of the people trapped in these
The old one was much better; here, it’s just the band name in a fancy font. Nothing special here, moving on.
It has the lyrics and that’s nice. It’s a good read, and despite
Dan’s growl being fairly easy to understand it’s always better to avoid
misinterpretation of what’s being said, as well as being able to read
the parts you can’t discern, because as said, the fantastic evil epic
tale is half the enjoyment of this disc. 7.
Its sheer scope is enough to make this a classic, but Dan put his
heart and soul in it, and together with his bandmates created an epic
tale that is executed in a near-flawless fashion, with the brilliant
songwriting a definite highlight of the whole album. The best albums
take you on a journey and don’t let you go until the very last second.
“Crimson” accomplishes this and then some, and has since been a pillar
in progressive death metal. A phenomenal accomplishment and a brilliant
album to listen to, time and time again, because a good story is always
something to return to, and so is a great album. “Crimson” is both and
needs to be heard by anyone enjoying either. Must-have!