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Edge of Sanity: Unorthodox

Dan Swano, despite his success with the Purgatory Afterglow and Crimson albums with Edge of Sanity, has said many times that his favourite EOS album has always been Unorthodox. I guess I can see why. First of all, those who call Edge of Sanity a melodic Death Metal band are wrong. EOS has never been merely a 'melodic' Death band to begin with; it's just that they stressed melody and the structure of their songs had powerful hooks that grab listeners by their balls. If you go back to the roots of this amazing band, you'll discover that their first three albums are the epitome of old school Death Metal with a proggressive approach.

Unorthodox is the 1992 release of EOS, but most of the songs were written between 1989 and 1991. The music presented on this record is very raw in style, crushingly heavy and incredibly powerful. All aspects of Death Metal are served here and they are also enhanced by proggy overtones (remember Dan Swano is one of the biggest progheads ever). Added to the mold of the songcraft are non-metal elements such as piano, keyboards, violin and even cello. Make no mistake though, none of these instruments are used to overpower, but they are utilised to add colour and texture as well as immense variety. As "Enigma" kicks off after the short instrumental track, we are faced with strangely accessible time signatures that continue to shift, change and redefine themselves. Right after Dan Swano's clean vocals (also the only clean vocals on the entire album) the intense rhythm work played by Sami Nerberg (and Dan Swano himself) abounds with so much energy that it is hard stay unresponsive to the magic that shines through. "Enigma" consists of three 'psalms', namely "The Blessing", "Celestial Dissension" and "The Loss of Hallowed Life". The cerebral lyrical theme is utilised in a call-and-response kind of vocal delivery and with each passing second the riff architecture is further developed. It finally explodes into a chaotic wall of sound. While I happen to like "Enigma" best on this record, the rest of songs are far from filler. On "In the Veins" and "Darker Than Black", Dan's vocals are particularly raw, but not as refined as they are on the later EOS albums. However these vocals seem to fit the music a lot better. Keep in mind that Dan Swano was only 18 when he recorded this album and his vocals are somewhat in the vein of the earliest Doom-Death bands: slow, tortured, yet heavily brutal!

"Everlasting" sees the band experimenting with various textures and the busy interplay during the main passage is stunning. The song structures are tremendously unorthodox (as the title itself suggests) and way ahead of their time. It's a shame this band got overlooked amongst the metal fans. I could name at least 50 Death Metal bands that came ten years after EOS and became a lot more popular. Similarly "After Afterlife" is a direct, speedy piece on the non-melodic spectrum of the genre. This sounds like a musical incarnation of entropic nihilism. The rhythm guitar pattern once again destroys (there are plenty of awesome RIFFS to be found here!) and pleases. The slow, seeping atmosphere is built upon wild drumming and throbbing bass figures as Nerberg and Swano experiment with delicate macrohythms to create a tapestry around the composition. Unorthodox is no doubt a different animal. This isn't as progressive as Crimson or as melodic as Purgatory Afterglow, but it's EOS's testament to creativity and originality from way back, the year 1992.

Track Listing

  1. The Unorthodox
  2. Enigma
  3. Incipience to the Butchery
  4. In the Veins/Darker Than Black
  5. Everlasting
  6. After Afterlife
  7. Beyond the Unknown
  8. Nocturnal
  9. A Curfew for the Damned
  10. Cold Sun
  11. The Day of Maturity
  12. Requiscon by Page
  13. Dead But Dreaming
  14. When All Is Said

Added: February 5th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Dan Swano message board
Hits: 3575
Language: english

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