Evolution, originally released in 1999 and now being reissued by Black Mark Productions, is not so much a "greatest hits" from Edge of Sanity, but more of a look at the "evolution" of the band. Put together by Dan Swano, this 2CD set contains plenty of demo recordings, alternate versions, covers, and previously unreleased songs. If you own all the Edge of Sanity albums, you will want to have this in your collection as well, as it contains many rare and previously unreleased material that show the many sides of the band. Overall, the sound quality on a few of the pieces aren't the best (although much remastering was done, so imagine the quality of the originals), but the point here is that this collection was meant to compliment the Edge of Sanity discography, as it contains all sorts of goodies not available elsewhere. With commentary regarding all the tracks by Dan Swano, plus plenty of photographs, this is a great bang for your buck if you are a fan of the band.
Most of the tracks on this set were remixed and remastered in 1999 by Swano himself. "Pernicious Anguish" was the first song the band ever wrote and recorded together, and their original 4-track version is included here. It's a tad crude, but you can hear the beginnings of the band quite well. "Immortal Souls", "Maze of Existence", "The Dead", and "Angel of Distress" are all songs from the first Edge of Sanity album Nothing But Death Remains, originally released in 1991. Swano states in the booklet that he has long wanted to remix the original recordings, which he was able to do here. The results are pretty startling, giving some new found power to these brutal death metal pieces. "Maze of Existence" sounds especially massive, with Dan's snarling vocals scorching the terrain while Dread & Sami Nerberg's guitar riffs slay everything in existence. Having Benny Larsson's huge drums beats and some spooky keyboards also helps matters on this manic piece.
The original demo version of "Everlasting" is included here (remastered in 1999), a song that was from the Unorthodox, and a personal favorite of Swano's, representing the heavier direction the band was taking at the time. A remixed version of "After Afterlife", also from that same album, is included here as well. This one is a real heavy, doomy number, given new life with the remix. "Human Aberration" shows up , this version a bonus track from their cassette release of Unorthodox and features Dread on lead vocals instead of Swano. Also here is a cover version of Cryptic Death's "Kill the Police", which is previously unreleased but apparently the band played live quite often. Rounding out CD1 is a remixed version of "When All Is Said", a real creepy, gothic, and doomy number from Unorthodox, complete with keyboards, crushing guitars, and Swano's deathly growls. Those who have heard The Spectral Sorrows album can look forward to a few tracks from that album. The band's cover of Manowar's "Blood of My Enemies" is here, but the version here is not the album version, but the one that was slated for the 12" release which was ultimately cancelled. This version has been locked away in the vaults until now. The previously unreleased "Elegy", a song slated for The Spectral Sorrows but left off due to it's ballady nature, is included in this collection. This one features clean vocals from Swano, and sounds more like something his other band Nightingale would have released.
Over on disc 2, things kick off with a remix of the excellent "The Masque", also from the band's third album. "Pernicious Anguish" also makes another appearance here, this version was re-recorded during the sessions for The Spectral Sorrows but was only to be left off, resurfacing for the Japanese re-release of Nothing But Death Remains, but probably being heard for the first time by many now. Compare this version with the original demo version from 1991 and see how much the band had matured in those few years. A remix of "Until Eternity Ends" shows up here,with some new vocals, from the EP of the same name, and "Song of the Sirens", originally from their fourth release Purgatory Afterglow, is remixed, although it still has that certain hardcore-meets-industrial flavor, certainly not like most of the Edge of Sanity output. Slayer fans will love Edge of Sanity's cover of the classic "Criminally Insane", originally released on the Slatanic Slaughter tribute album, here remastered with greatly improved sound. A bonus track from the Japanese release of Crimson, called "Murder, Dividead", sports a remaster treatment here, and "I Wanna Go Home" is another leftover track from that time period, with lyrics about life on the road. It's basically a punk flavored piece that sounds pretty out of place in this set, and the sound quality is not up to normal Edge of Sanity standards. "Damned By the Damned", from their 1997 Infernal release, is remastered and sports a more polished sound for the band, but still contains the characteristic heavy guitar riffs and Swano's great death metal growls.
The final few tracks are from the short period when the band played on after Dan Swano left, with Robert Karlsson (Pan-Thy-Monium) taking over the vocal role. "Moonshine" is a song left off the ensuing album Cryptic, and sounds nothing like Edge of Sanity, basically a raging hardcore piece, and "Bleed You Dry" is a remasted version of perhaps one of the strongest songs from that album. Their cover of Danzig's "Mother", originally appearing on a Black Mark complilation, is actually not that bad, although the vocals could have been a little higher in the mix. Guitar wise though, it's spot on and pretty heavy. The last track in this set is "Epidemic Reign", a song that was written during the Crimson sessions but never used or finished. In 1999, while Swano was putting this collection together, drummer Larsson and singer Karlsson came by the studio, and the three put the finishing touches on the song, and it's here in all its glory, complete with a vocal duet between Swano and Karlsson. The tune is very good, and indicative of the more progressive style of the Crimson albums.
All told, Evolution is a monumental project, and although it contains many hits and some misses, is a must have for Edge of Santity and Dan Swano fans. Call it the "treasure chest full of goodies" for the completist if you will, which ultimately pays homage to a great band that was very influential on the 90's death metal scene.
1. Pernicious Anguish ['99 Remix]
2. Immortal Souls ['99 Remaster]
3. Maze of Existence ['99 Remix]
4. The Dead ['99 Remaster]
5. Angel of Distress ['99 Remix]
6. Everlasting ['99 Remaster]
7. After Afterlife ['99 Remix]
8. Human Aberration ['99 Remaster]
9. Kill the Police ['99 Remaster]
10. When All Is Said ['99 Remaster]
11. Blood of My Enemies ['99 Remaster]
12. Elegy ['99 Remaster][#]
1. The Masque ['99 Remix]
2. Pernicious Anguish ['99 Remaster][#]
3. Until Eternity Ends ['99 Remix/Re-Recording]
4. Song of Sirens ['99 Remix]
5. Criminally Insane ['99 Remaster]
6. Murder, Dividead ['99 Remix]
7. I Wanna Go Home ['99 Remaster]
8. Damned by the Damned ['99 Remaster]
9. Moonshine ['99 Remaster][#]
10. Bleed You Dry ['99 Remaster]
11. Mother ['99 Remaster]
12. Epidemic Reign ['99 Recording][#]