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EDGE OF SANITY - Crimson cover
4.38 | 119 ratings | 13 reviews
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Album · 1996


1. Crimson (40:00)

Total Time: 40:00


- Dan Swanö / vocals
- Andreas Axelsson / guitar
- Sami Nerberg / guitar
- Anders Lindberg / bass
- Benny Larsson / drums

Guest musicians:
- Mikael Åkerfeldt / vocals, lead guitar
- Anders Mareby / cello

About this release

CD Black Mark Productions (1996)
April 2nd
Crimson was recorded and mixed in Unisound by Dan Swanö and ProMix 01 December to January.

Mastered and digitally edited by Peter in de Betou & Dan Swanö in Cutting Room, Stockholm January 1996.

Cover artwork by Duncan C. Storr.
Cover concept by Dan Swanö.
Design & Layout by Maren Lotz.
Executive Producer: Börje Forsberg.
Promotion: Björn Schrenk

Bonus track on Japan edition:
2. Murder Divided

Thanks to J-Man for the addition and Phonebook Eater, The Block, bartosso, adg211288 for the updates


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A single 40-minute track, that manages to weave through almost every style Edge of Sanity has toyed with thus far. Primarily there is Melodeath and Prog Metal, but also OSDM, Gothic Metal, some Doomy parts, of course acoustics and cleans… It’s the full package. It contains a sprawling concept story about the end of mankind revolving around the inability to breed and a god-born crimson queen who provides the last hope for mankind’s preservation. This is one of those tracks that is wildly entertaining to follow along to, as the lyrics provide a visual spectacle of dark suspense, befitting the music.

But of course, on to the music itself. Crimson strikes the perfect balance between including recurring motifs and jam-packing the thing with as many apocalyptic riffs as possible. The song just never gets boring. It paces itself wonderfully, the infrequent but always pleasant soft sections giving reprieve after many minutes of unrelenting Metal, and the pummeling sections of aggressive speed checked by slower dirges. Every member is in top form.

As far as concept albums go, it’s up there with the best. As far as single track albums go, it’s also up there with the best. Plainly speaking, a legendary moment of Progressive Melodeath that most Extreme Metal epics are now compared to.
After years of drifting away from the heavier side of music and spending a lot of time wandering around the misty realms psychedelic, I find myself back with a bang and have been revisiting some metal relics from my teenage iPod days. This, coupled with the Covid-19 lockdown in Scotland has sent me on a rampage of metal music discovery with death/prog/sludge/doom being at the very heart of it.

This album was a first for me in 2020 and I have to say that I already love it dearly like an old friend. It has equal elements of death metal and progressive metal but is also surprisingly easy going and very much likable on first listen which is not always the case for some albums spanning the death/prog sub genres. For example, GORGUTS' OBSCURA took me a good 5 focused listens to even begin to comprehend although I did also eventually love it and is also now a firm favourite.

Crimson flows seamlessly through 8 parts of a prog/death metal epic and is full of incredible deep riffs peppered with highly melodic lead guitar parts, some of which are reminiscent of the music of NWOBHM and which also have clearly been an influence on the likes of MASTODON who took sludge metal to new territories in the early 00s. The more melodic side of this album can also be clearly heard in the more accessible bands of the 00s melodic metalcore scene such as KILLSWITCH ENGAGE.

I would recommend this album highly to lovers of all types of metal music, even those that are put off by the death growls as it exhibits a stunning atmospheric and melodic quality which I feel makes it more easily penetrable than the majority of other albums within the genre. Overall, an outstanding adventure through sound. My only disappointment is that I had not heard it prior to 2020.
"Crimson" is the 5th full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Edge of Sanity. The album was released through Black Mark Production in April 1996. "Crimson" is quite a unique album (at least for it´s time) as it solely consists of one 40 minutes long sci-fi/fantasy themed track. It also marks a change in the band´s songwriting dynamics as "Crimson" is more or less lead vocalist Dan Swanö´s project. On all preceding releases songwriting credits were more evenly distributed, but "Crimson" was solely written by Swanö, who also performs rhythm guitars and harmony guitars, clean and acoustic guitars, and keyboards, in addition to growling- and clean vocals. The rest of the band also performs on the album, but everything sounds strictly orchestrated by Swanö. Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth performs session guitar leads and vocals (the occasional raw blackened vocals on the album).

Stylistically the music on the album concludes the transformation from an old school Swedish death metal act to a full blown progressive death metal act, that the band initiated on "Enigma" from "Unorthodox (1992)". "Crimson" is the peak of Edge of Sanity´s stylistic development and to my ears also the peak of their recording career. While the music on "Crimson" is still in some ways at it´s core old school Swedish death metal, it far transcends what is usual for the genre, by incorporating both progressive rock, goth rock, and black metal elements. A contemporary artist like Opeth is a valid reference although at this point Opeth were only in the early stages of their career, and not at all as prolific or as influential as they would later become. So when "Crimson" was released, it was quite a unique sounding release.

Edge of Sanity successfully combine the various stylistic elements and the listener is caried through the album´s many brutal, melancholic, epic, tranquil, and adventurous sections with a seamless ease. "Crimson" is a dynamic release and one moment you´ll be exposed to death metal brutality and growling vocals, or blackened coldness with raspy screaming vocals, and the next a mellow beautiful section with clean vocals. While there are many sections featured on the track, and the structure is relatively complex, it´s actually reasonably easy to follow, and many sections are repeated or tweaked a bit and occur again during the track, so there is a high recognisability factor throughout the composition. Structure wise I´m reminded of a progressive rock classic like "Thick as a Brick (1972)" by Jethro Tull, which also consists of one album long track, featuring reoccurring themes. Knowing Swanö´s appreciation for classic progressive rock, it wouldn´t be a surprise, if he took some inspiration from that particular release.

The musicianship is as usual on a high level. While everything is certainly delivered with the needed skill and precision, there is a charming organic touch to the delivery, which works really well with the material. The instrumental part of the album is delivered with passion and conviction, but it´s the vocal part of the album, which takes the prize. Swanö´s growling vocals are distinct sounding and intelligible and his clean vocals are strong and pleasant (his harmony and choir vocals are also quality work). Åkerfeldt also deliveres a strong vocal performance, which help ensure variation in the vocal department.

"Crimson" is well produced, featuring a raw, organic, and detailed production, which suits the material perfectly. A more clean and clinical sounding production probably wouldn´t have suited the material as well. The album was recorded and mixed by Swanö at his own Unisound studio. Upon conclusion "Crimson" is a high quality release in every possible way. It features a well sounding production, strong musicianship, and adventurous songwriting, which was unique for the time, and a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.
siLLy puPPy
I am one of those who didn't really like this upon first listen. I had the hardest time without some kind of intro build up to something grander. This simply starts out as simple death metal and THEN takes you on a journey once you've had a little time to get into the groove of the whole thing. Damn. I hate being manipulated but EDGE OF SANITY managed to do it with this release. Despite not loving this upon first spin, I was drawn back. Driven to get this MF it finally happened one night. I got it. And once I did, OMG! OK. I get it now. I succumbed to the insidious charm that this album has. Now I love it and recognize it for its beauty. It's weird how certain vocalists even within the growly death metal arena just don't do it for ya. Well Dan Swanö has been one of those vocalists for me, so it took more than the recommended time for to adjust to his. But after I did..... pure magic. Now I can say I love this album and recognize it for the masterpiece it truly is.
How can you not be blown away by this album ? Of course if growly vocals aren't your thing i understand but man this is a 40 minute suite that takes us on a trip that twists and turns with some creative contrasts along the way. I'm not a big fan at all of Death Metal and in particular growly vocals but i do appreciate them when used to convey a contrast like here and on many of the OPETH recordings. And speaking of OPETH Mikael Akerfeldt guests on this album playing guitar and offering up his vocals. The quieter sections with clean vocals do remind me a lot of OPETH's "Damnation" album and i must admit that everytime those atmospheric sections come in i'm in heaven, and then the extreme comes stomping in i'm head banging with the rest of you. Personally i'd give this 5 stars if the percentage of quiet versus extreme was reversed but hey i'm impressed enough to give this 4.5 stars. I love the way the album starts. It reminds me of the time some guy attacked me from behind at High School. You get hit with violence and soon your into it yourself for all your worth as you join in the fury that came out of nowhere. When you put this on crank it up and put on your seat belt man.
It's hard when it comes to reviewing albums that are near universally acclaimed such as this one, to not simply repeat the same praise that others have. And in this albums case, it's hard to pick apart any real flaw at all. The 40 minute single track album deals with a post apocalyptic narrative where humanity can no longer breed. This affliction leads the people of this world to desperation, and when the king and queen have a child, their hope is restored - but will it lead them to former glory or greater destruction? The narrative is murky and ambiguous in its design, but never leaves you with too little information to be any less then fully involved. If I had to pull it apart, I'd say, that yes, it does get old eventually. But I've heard this through at least 100 times, and each time I can easily keep involved in the narrative and musical design - so for the repeatability this album holds, as well as the power, ambition and result, it receives my highest recommendation.
Edge of Sanity's masterpiece took a while to grow on me, but what at first sounded like a fairly typical death metal album which happened to consist of a single long track soon turned out to be a much more intriguing proposition, with diverse changes in mood and style to convey the album's narrative. Dan Swanö delivers his most varied and diverse vocals to date whilst the band provide both the musical backdrop and the special effects for the science fantasy story. At one point in the album the lead guitars manage to achieve a perfect imitation of a warning siren - which sounds cheesy on paper, but in this context it really works. As far as melodic death metal goes, this is a high water mark indeed.
The Angry Scotsman

That's all I could say after first listening to this album. The sheer scope of what just hit me had left me floored, but later the greatness sunk in as well. After taking small steps away from traditional death metal, Edge of Sanity makes a huge leap with this one. "Crimson" consists of one, 40 minute song. Yes. This is the king of prog metal epics.

The album kicks off strong, with crushing guitar and Swano's powerful growls. However, don't expect it to last long...or anything for that matter. "Crimson" really moves. No part lasts longer than 2 minutes, before its on to something else. Sometimes abrupt, sometimes flowing smoothly, indeed the best part of this album is its construction. Keeps you on your toes, and never grows stale over 40 minutes. Everything that can be thrown at you will be: Edge of Sanity's classic melodic death metal riffing, blast beats, acoustic guitar, growls, clean singing (both of which are great but Swano's growls really are superb) slow and mid tempo sections, crushing guitars, solos and a few surprises thrown in. That's all I can really say, this album is a progressive death metal epic that twists and turns, never too quickly but never waits too long either. How this album moves is its strongest victory, and its power and melody really help back it up. Never technical or complex, "Crimson" makes up for it in these other ways. The music and composition is perfect, Swano's vocals are amazing and fit the music. That's all I'll say, and that you really need to just try it for yourself.

Fans of death metal and old EoS may want to approach this cautiously, as it can be challenging and is way out of left field than anything else out there. For fans of prog metal though, this is a must. Even non prog metal heads should absolutely give this a try, since it does move around quickly. Brilliant work.


Conor Fynes
'Crimson' - Edge Of Sanity (10/10)

This band and album came to my attention through my once-fervent appreciation of the fellow Swedish progressive death metal group Opeth. Although my love of Opeth has since dwindled a fair bit, I am left now with the music of Edge Of Sanity, led by none other than Dan Swano, who seems to have taught Opeth frontman quite a bit when it comes to metal. With the prospect of a forty minute epic riding my expectations high, I was nearly expecting to be let down, but quite clearly; that was not the case. Rivaled by only a handful of other albums in death metal, 'Crimson' is a powerfully crafted opus that takes beauty and heaviness in equal measure and combines them in a narrative style to create what is one of the best put-together concept albums I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Telling a fairly dark story that blends elements of science-fiction and the supernatural, 'Crimson' revolves around a dismal vision of the future in which mankind can breed no longer, and depends on a mythic princess to lead them to salvation. Unfortunately, she makes a deal with an 'unholy entity' of sorts to save her people, and from there on, things start to fall apart. Even as a story of its own, 'Crimson' is a convincing piece of fantasy fiction, and while some parts of the plot are left a bit obscure, it feels like a perfect milieu for the music to score. Although some listeners may find it difficult to follow the story on first listen due to the rather garbled nature of death metal growls (of which there are plenty here), the music gets the intended feeling and imagery across just right. 'Crimson' also makes use of some incredibly memorable leitmotifs that also seem to coincide with recurring narrative elements, such as death. Speaking musically, Edge Of Sanity is very clever in the way they re-use ideas from earlier in the forty minute epic; things never feel too familiar, and there is always a tinge of development to make the ideas feel even more dramatic than earlier on.

For death metal, the guitar work here is surprisingly melodic and often alternates between heavier and darker moments, much in the same way Opeth would. There are also some guest appearances from Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth, doing a vocal section and some guitar soloing. What might come as a surprise to some that find themselves particularly endeared to the band is that Akerfeldt's performance here pales in comparison to Dan Swano. Especially in Swano's emotive growling, there is always great power involved, and the lyrics are much more coherent than some other vocalists in death metal. Swano's clean approach isn't quite as sharp as his growling, but his deep tenor holds a nice resonance, particularly in a part later on where he harmonizes with himself beautifully.

The lead guitar licks are always top notch and melodic; never particularly technical, but always powerful. The rhythm guitar is not quite as organic, instead sometimes feeling like it is simply there to get the heaviness and chords across without putting its own mark of feeling into the music. That being said, there is little to distract from the enjoyment of this work. Although the word 'epic' is unfortunately tossed around far too often when describing music, Edge Of Sanity's 'Crimson' writes the book on it. One of the most powerful albums out there in the world of metal, progressive or otherwise.
The Block
For the king had shown them it could be done when his woman gave birth to the sacred one.

Hail the King of death metal, Dan Swanö. I’ve waited a long time to review this album, since it was so complex, with its neat structures, changes in genre, and overall greatness. Crimson is one of, if not my first death metal album, that I had ever listened to, and am I ever glad I did. There is so much going on in this song that it’s hard to put in words what exactly I like about the album.

One thing that I like so much is the changing of the tempo and genre. Even within the first couple of minutes Edge of Sanity goes from medium pace progressive death metal to slower acoustics with regular vocals. All throughout the album they keep doing this, which makes it very complex and insanely good. The musicianship on this album is also some of the best I have ever heard in death metal. Mikael Akerfeldt, the man behind the greatness of Opeth, does a superb job on guitars, leading to a very enjoyable sound that carries throughout the whole album. He’s also exceptionally good on the acoustic sections. A cool feature that EoS employs is right after the acoustic sections of the song, they transfer right into straight out death metal, creating a very unique sound.

This being my first death metal album, even if it is progressive, this was my introduction to growling. At first I was like, “Yeah, yeah speak normally please”, but then after some listens I began to see the brilliance of Dan Swanö. His vocals are very deep, and blend in great with the melodies of Mikael Akerfeldt and the superb drumming of Benny Larsson. His regular vocals are also very good, to go along with his growling.

Sometimes I can’t come up with words to describe how awesome this album is. The licks, melodies, and riffs are top notch, and blend well with the excellent vocals of Dan Swanö. For one of the best progressive death metal albums that were ever released Edge of Sanity gets an obvious 5 stars.

Members reviews

Codera The Great
This is an album (or song) that from the very second you press play, you never want to press the stop button. With Dan Swanö's thunderous opening line of "Another sky is young", you are immediately gripped and transported to another world (which happens to be on the brink of destruction as you witness the events before you). The music, lyrics, and overall concept paint such a beautiful image of this futuristic dystopia, where the daughter of a King leads a successful coup attempt against him, and eventually becomes ruler herself, only to be captured and imprisoned in crimson fluid (as you see on the cover). The performances all-around are top-notch and the intensity does not let up, even Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth makes a guest appearance here and displays one of his all-time best harsh vocal performances alongside Dan Swanö's equally powerful roars. This is simply a must have for fans of progressive music and old school death metal in general. One of my personal favorite albums in any genre of all time.
Prog Geo
Fantastic album!One of my favorite albums.Extreme prog metal at its best!This album contains only one song(40 minutes).The members are:Dan Swano:Guitars,keyboards,clean and death metal vocals,Andreas Axelsson:Guitar,Sami Nerberg:Guitar,Anders Lindberg:Bass guitar,Benny Larsson:Drums and Inspiration and the guests are:Anders Mareby:Electric Cello(great solo) and Mikael Akerfeldt:Lead guitar(fantastic solo)and screams(perfect performance).There are great ideas which are repeated because the story changes its chapters.Here we have prog rock,gothic metal,death/black metal,folk elements and some electronic elements.

The artwork is like a comic's cover.It shows the Queen(the main character of the story)closed in a crimson cage.Also there are some faces on the cage(and the place that there's the cage and the other cages with another queens(I think)is made of stone(it's like a cave's room)) which look like totem faces.

My most favorite parts except from all the album and Dan Swano's performance are:the vocals and the guitar solo of Mikael Akerfeldt,the cello solo of Anders Mareby,the dynamic beginning and the folk-style singing(which reminds me a little the greek traditional songs)which there is almost two minutes before the end of the song.

I recommend it to all open-minded music fans because it's not for everyone.A metal gem and not only!

My grade:8,5/10

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