Edge of Sanity

Evolution

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Several years before they took pains to summarize their near-legendary career with 2006's balanced and concise When All Is Said collection, Swedish death metal icons Edge of Sanity unselfishly dug out and exposed their darkest entrails through 1999's Evolution -- a double-disc, odds & sods compilation, mixing remixed album cuts with rare demos and a slew of entertaining covers. And by taking a chronological approach with its generous 24 tracks, this release certainly lives up to its title, as it traces the Dan Swano-led group's often unbelievable maturation process, out of the basest death metal savagery (never more vile than the demo of first-ever composition, "Pernicious Anguish") until achieving the apex of melodic accessibility and compositional sophistication that was still recognizable as death metal (see closing outtake "Epidemic Reign"). In between, Evolution profiles key album cuts (always remastered) like 1991's "Maze of Existence," 1992's "When All Is Said," 1993's "The Masque," 1994's "Elegy," and 1997's "Bleed You Dry," while sadly but understandably leaving 1996's 40-minute song, "Crimson," out of the equation, along with any songs from 1997's career low Infernal LP. Sprinkled amongst these are the aforementioned covers, including a surprisingly chosen, oddly industrialized blast through Cryptic Death's "Kill the Police," a couple of deathly versions of Manowar's "Blood of My Enemies" and Slayer's "Criminally Insane," a curious tribute to Swedish alt-rock via Sator's domestic hit, "I Wanna Go Home," and a rather comical swipe at Danzig's "Mother." Finally, one must highlight the remaining unreleased tracks, which include the excellent "Murder Divided" (a Japanese B-side from the Crimson sessions), the improbably catchy "Epidemic Reign" (another Crimson outtake left unfinished until 1999), and a re-recorded "Pernicious Anguish," which neatly brings everything full circle for Edge of Sanity. But not necessarily for first-time listeners, who will surely be better served by the aforementioned When All Is Said"'best-of" (which summarily avoids this set's noticeable predilection for the band's less developed first and second albums), leaving Evolution to appease longtime EoS fans who already possess the group's entire discography.

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