Edge of Sanity

The Spectral Sorrows

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The presciently named Unorthodox album had revealed Edge of Sanity to be much more than a predictable, stuck-on-full-throttle death metal machine, so it was only natural to expect that the Swedish quintet would continue pushing the boundaries of their sound on subsequent efforts. The only questions left to answer were "how much?" and "would they succeed in making it work?." Well, no more than one listen to 1993's exceptional The Spectral Sorrows was necessary to confirm all but the highest expectations for the group. Introduced by a typically phantasmagoric, mood-setting instrumental piece (long a favorite heavy metal device), the album soon launches into a number of adventurous tracks, many of whose wild contradictions are responsible for making them far superior to the sum of their parts. Also the first Edge of Sanity release to benefit from a truly top-notch production job, The Spectral Sorrows offers a number of memorable cuts, such as "Livin' Hell," "The Masque," and "Across the Fields of Forever." Most of these mix typically fast, blast-beat rhythms with slower, doom/death-derived tempos -- a combination which forged the blueprint for countless mid-'90s Swedish death metal acts. Singer Dan Swano's first attempts at interspersing occasionally clean vocals with his predominant gut-wrenching death growl (another trend that would become a staple of Scandinavian metal in years to come) take place here, most notably on "Sacrificed," where he displays a baritone style resembling the Sisters of Mercy's Andrew Eldritch. Even Edge of Sanity's choice of a cover tune (quite a surprise for this proudly self-contained group), Manowar's underappreciated classic "Blood of My Enemies," is pulled off with convincing aplomb. Finally, guitarist Andreas Axelsson (aka Dread) also exorcises his last remaining hardcore kinks on the furious "Feedin' the Charlatan." Another winning set, The Spectral Sorrows officially inaugurated Edge of Sanity's golden era, with many superlative releases yet to follow.

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