Edge of Sanity - Infernal
Black Mark
Death Metal with Gothic elements
11 songs (49'49")
Release year: 1997
Edge of Sanity, Black Mark
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

I rarely do archive reviews, always trying to make time for new albums (and new bands). Yet this week the heart panged for something familiar. Struck by the recent frequency of divorces in my neighborhood and my younger kid’s school, the thought turned to Edge of Sanity’s Infernal. It is not a secret to many that Infernal was an album the Swedes put out when serious creative differences split up Dan Swano and Andreas Axelsson, the band essentially recording the album with two different lineups, song by song. On “his” tracks Swano did pretty much everything by himself, except drums, and ventured towards the new horizons, while contributing vocals on a few Axelsson tracks. Axelsson stuck in his rasp on a pair of songs, and tried to keep Edge of Sanity adhering to its death metal past.

In my opinion, Infernal was always underappreciated in Edge of Sanity catalog. Whatever the tensions the band was riven with at the time, the variety represented on the album actually made for an interesting experience, the brain having to clutch from one aura to the next, not settling in a rut. The old albums are the classics, and Crimson is, of course, a separate story, but to me Infernal was that unusual last swan song before the band effectively ended. Even though there were albums after that, I did not quite get into Cryptic and Crimson II is just Swano alone doing his thing.

It is true that all-Axelsson tracks, Helter Skelter and The Bleakness of It All, are rawer and more chaotic, although The Bleakness of It All has its own moments of introspection amidst the twangy buzzsaw. Yet it isn’t that Swano’s tracks are all gothic left turns. Sure, Losing Myself Nightingale-bordering crooning may cause dedicated death metallers to cringe. Just like Mathias Lodmalm dispensing of Cemetary and switching to Sundown, Losing Myself may have belonged on another Swano project, but, please, don’t tell me Hell Is Where the Heart Is, 15:36 and Forever Together Forever don’t make a great tie-in between old school Swedish death metal and other territories Swano was about to explore. If only Edge of Sanity chose this road … Boxy, cubic Stockholm Sunlight Studios sound of Hell Is Where the Heart Is riffs have something extra in them, another melodic hook unbeknownst to Edge of Sanity until that date, something the band could have run away with, provided the whole collective stuck to it. 15:36 has thick and drippy sound to its doominess, as if Candlemass and old Black Sabbath recorded in the aforementioned Sunlight. Burn the Sun has trippy rhythms and bluesy interlude, crashing the opening death metal into sludgy ending. And one of my favorites, the almost title track Inferno, is speedier, just like earlier Edge of Sanity, but catchy, running head on into the melodic riff bound to etch into anybody’s memory. If anything, Inferno is one bipolar song on one bipolar album. To top it all off, Swano closed with The Last Song, beginning with piano/baritone ballad, to move into multi-melody cosmic guitar jam, to resolve everything with deep funeral e-bow outlet.

I am not sure if Infernal is the album you start with to introduce yourself to Edge of Sanity. For monumental and progressive Crimson is a must, and Purgatory Afterglow as well as The Spectral Sorrow are more standard classics, but Infernal is definitely my sentimental favorite, and I am happy to contribute its review.

Killing Songs :
Hell is Where the Heart Is, 15:36, Forever Together Forever, Losing Myself, Inferno, The Last Song
Alex quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Edge of Sanity that we have reviewed:
Edge of Sanity - The Spectral Sorrows reviewed by Tony and quoted 91 / 100
Edge of Sanity - Crimson reviewed by Dan and quoted 99 / 100
Edge of Sanity - Crimson II reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 100
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