Purgatory Afterglow is Edge of Sanity's fourth album after The Spectral Sorrows. It is when the band started to push the form of death metal by constantly trying to be innovative, experimental, and progressive. That is what set them apart from all the other contemporaries. Unfortunately they were always overshadowed by other Swedish acts, most of whom, in my opinion, were no where near as talented as EOS. Purgatory Afterglow marks the highpoint of the band's career. Crimson, the 40-minute one-song album, was the excellent follow-up to it and proved that EOS would become one of the most important, daring, and innovative death metal bands of the 90's!
The two key elements, which are common characteristics of the band's mastermind Dan Swano, are real death metal riffs mixed up with strong and solid melodies. The riffs, as opposed to their first three albums, are more sublime riffs, but Swano carefully injects the strongest melodies into each and every second creating his unique death metal sound. This is not what so many people tend to call Gothenburg or anything. This is the purest form of DEATH METAL with unforgettable melodies, killer guitar riffs, heavy bass rhythms and pounding drum beats! Not to mention Dan Swano's vocals of course. He is without a doubt one of my favourite growlers ever! I think what I love about this disc so much is the pure, honest emotion in Dan's voice, in addition to the dark and complex yet very melodic atmosphere of the music. Dan Swano has such a broad musical vision and truly embraces so many different styles. He is progressive simply in a much different way than most progressive purists would think qualifies as fitting to the concept and ideals of what "progressive" music should sound like. One thing no one would deny is that Edge of Sanity has showed a lot of growth and a clear evolution from album to album always trying to cover new ground, and never repeating themselves. EOS has been more progressive in terms of what the word means today--playing fast, technical, crazy time changes, etc. Not that Dan isn't capable of it. He would prove that as well on his solo album Moontower four years after Purgatory Afterglow.
"Twilight" is the first and longest song of the album which kicks in with an atmospheric keyboard intro shocking you there for a moment. Considering that their first three albums were much more straight-forward you're speechless for a moment. But then the speedy thrash runs with powerful riffs begin to set the mood and Dan's aggressive yet melodic death grunts allow you to sit back and enjoy the content of this disc. Riffs. Melodies. Grunts. Riffs. Melodies. Grunts. Fiery drumming kicking in and taking a break. Wow! There's no real chorus but the song manages to stick in your mind: memorable. This thing has the trademark EOS feel all over it. That's the vibe I get whenever I play their stuff with their classic line-up consisting of Dan, Dread, Sami, and Anders. "Of Darksome Origin" continues this vibe all the way: intricate guitar work, powerful riffs, melodic passages, cerebral lyrics, and again indescribable vocals from Dan. There's also some quite unusual stuff available on this album; for example the song "Black Tears" is the band's first ever song with all clean vocals. It is also a song that shifts the band's focus on the music, with Dan just intervening with short vocal harmonies when necessary during the chorus. Not my personal favourite but a much welcome change if you ask me.
One of my favourite tracks on this CD has got to be "Velvet Dreams", it is a song where EOS achieved musical perfection. Dan plays with the words on this one, and the chorus is simply incredible! I love the articulation Dan puts behind his singing. Very metal yet also very emotional. His shifting from death to clean vocals and vice versa gives this album some depth that only few others have achieved. It was on The Spectral Sorrows when Dan first used his clean vocals, but Purgatory Afterglow and Crimson were when his singing became a trademark sound for EOS. The clean and death vocals provide a great balance and make the songs flow better. "Elegy" is one of the songs that displays the band's more direct style, which is a relatively easier song to digest. Purgatory Afterglow isn't about surprising the listener only. It offers everything an open-minded death metal fan might be looking for. "Song of Sirens" is perhaps doesn't live up to the high standards compared to the rest of the tracks here, because it doesn't really seem like it was meant to be a "song" in the first place. It features some unusual atmospheric sounds with sporadic vocals from Dan and some more experimental stuff. This is actually the last song on the CD but the album continues playing for another 10 tracks all lasting merely 2 seconds with complete silence. Another hint that EOS wasn't just a death metal band, they were so much more than that. Too bad not many people understood the aesthetics of their art. Recommended.
- Of Darksome Origin
- Black Tears
- Velvet Dreams
- Enter Chaos
- The Sinner and the Sadness
- Song of Sirens