Edge of Sanity - Crimson II
Black Mark
Progressive Death Metal
43 songs (43'02")
Release year: 2003
Edge of Sanity, Black Mark
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

It has been six years since the last Edge of Sanity album saw the light of day. Well, actually it has been since 1997 Infernal, if you don’t count Swano-less years. And now, very unexpectedly, there is Crimson II. Unexpectedly, because Dan Swano, a metal genius, is involved with Bloodbath, Diabolical Masquerade and Nightingale, not counting some other production jobs. To set the record entirely straight, Crimson II is more like Dan Swano’s solo project than the Edge of Sanity latest album. All naming rights, copyrights and any other rights aside, I don’t know why Dan elected to go with the Edge of Sanity moniker on this album instead of calling it his own. You see, Dan plays just about every instrument and sings in both growling and clean vocals on Crimson II. None of the old Edge of Sanity guys are anywhere to be seen in the credits. Roger Johansson and Jonas Granvik are growling away and Mike Wead (Mercyful Fate) and Simon Johansson (Memory Garden) pitch in the guitar leads. That’s it – the rest is Mr. Swano himself.

Just like the legendary Crimson album (maybe that is why the Edge of Sanity tag) Crimson II is a concept story. Instead of being just one long track it is actually broken down in 43 little frames, probably a page taken out of Diabolical Masquerade’s Death’s Design. The booklet, however, breaks the story in 9 chapters.

The story is very reminiscent of Omen, the female version (who is Clive Nolan who wrote the lyrics?). A nun at the monastery reads a forbidden book of incantations only to plant a seed of the evil spirit inside of her. The Crimson Queen child-menace is born. Gazing into the eyes of the beast is fatal, as suspecting Mother Superior learns. Mankind’s fate with such evil in existence does not look very promising. In order to banish the beast mother has to bleed the child’s eyes out and sacrifices herself in the process.

Most importantly, how is the album musically? I will continue just like I started. The work bears much more resemblance to Moontower, Swano’s solo work, than to Edge of Sanity Crimson predecessor. After an ultraquick gothic intro we go into the first few pretty brutal, almost thrashy, frames. To distinguish itself from the “dry” Swedish death metal variety the keyboard touches can be heard and bring an atmosphere of horror to the album. In no way the keys are prevalent, but it makes the record entirely progressive. Just as I thought that melodies have some Marillion overtones to them, Dan is wearing a Marillion shirt on the inside of the CD tray.

A large portion of the record is harsh, but a few piano driven and otherwise highly melodic pieces (especially the last few frames) are inserted strategically to make the story flow, and to settle the listening senses down. I really liked how the leads fit into the album, not self indulgent and very fitting with what comes next.

Vocals deserve special mention. Dan’s clean vocals could not have improved further, but they sound awesome. Deep, chesty and mesmerizing. It is hard to say who growls where, but there are certainly a few styles and timbres heard. I am going to go out on the limb and say that Dan does the first few frames, and his growl is very low in tone and it sounds very apocalyptic. Combination of this doomsday voice, haunting keyboard touches and lyrics, that suck you in like a vortex, is very powerful.

My two very minor complaints are few riff repetitions and somewhat “noisy” production. In my modest opinion, if the production was clearer it would not subtract from the harshness of the album, but would certainly add further to the terror atmosphere.

Crimson II is not the album you will get upon the first listen. If you were, it would be boring and you wouldn’t spend any time with it (I have been spinning it many times over the last two weeks). Although a very solid progressive death metal album Crimson II didn’t top its legendary original. Well, once the original is such a landmark the sequel has its work cut out for it. As long as you won’t be searching for comparisons you will enjoy it tremendously, just like I did. Thanks again, Dan Swano, and that Chuck Schuldiner dedication is certainly special.

Killing Songs :
Just one great album
Alex quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Edge of Sanity that we have reviewed:
Edge of Sanity - Infernal reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
Edge of Sanity - The Spectral Sorrows reviewed by Tony and quoted 91 / 100
Edge of Sanity - Crimson reviewed by Dan and quoted 99 / 100
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