You've just gotta love Edge of Sanity. This utterly heavy, utterly talented group of folks seems to have been with us for almost as long as we've had metal itself, and their newest album, Infernal, continues to push the envelope.
Their previous disc, Crimson, made some waves due mainly to the format it employed: it was a single, 40-minute song. While this was seen by many as nothing more than a ploy to get attention - it was, after all, musically divided into significant "movements" that acted as songs, much like the recent Fates Warning album - it was nonetheless creative as hell, and worthy of praise. Infernal is even more creative in it's bastardization of several modern metal trends, piling together sounds that seem to belong on separate albums by separate bands.
The most notable feature of this album is the schizophrenic quality of the vocals - we're treated to an alternation between death, black, and conventional metal vocals, almost with predictable regularity. If nothing else, this blending of styles makes Infernal a satisfying listen because of the scope it spans. The opening track, the thunderous and infectious death-metal standard-to-be "Hell is Where the Heart Is" gives way to "Helter Skelter", a fast black metal tune that is as bitter as it's subject matter.
Edge of Sanity is the baby of renaissance man Dan Swano, and his touch is on most of these songs. In fact, the weakest tracks on the disc are those in which Swano's presence is felt the least, such as "The Bleakness of it All" and the aforementioned "Helter Skelter". It's definitely worth mentioning that Peter Tagtgren recorded and mixed this album, and Peter's touch can be seen on some of the best metal being produced these days.
Swano shows an incredible range of vocal talents, moving from the most deathly, brute-force sound to a surprisingly mellow, smooth tone with ease. Personally, I prefer his clean-tone vocals, as on the brilliantly melodic "15:36".
Rumor has it - and it seems that this rumor has been confirmed - that this is to be the last Edge of Sanity album, and Dan gives his reasons for his departure in the poignant final track, the appropriately named "The Last Song". ("Why do you hear these words, when I have nothing to say...I am only trying to complete this song.")
We'll miss you, Dan, and we'll eagerly await your next project.