Slynt on July 16th, 2013
One of my favorite albums ever
I remember reading about this album in the review section of the Dutch metal music magazine 'Aardschok'. The album got an 8/10, but the review itself made me interested because it seemed clear to me that this was a record with more than just standard death metal. The reviewer pointed out "When All is Said" as a 'death metal ballad' and that alone was enough to pique my curiosity.
When my class went to the big city for a weekend trip, I stumbled upon a CD store and went inside. This was half a year after I had read the review. And there it was, Edge of Sanity's "Unorthodox". Now, coming from a place where you're considered lucky to find the newest Iron Maiden or AC/DC at the nearest record store, this was like finding buried treasure and so I grabbed it, remembering I had been curious about this album half a year earlier. At that time, I was eighteen.
Now I'm thirty-six, and I am *still* listening to "Unorthodox".
It was an album that would change my life in many ways. I guess we all have one or more of those albums in our lives that set you on a path you may not have realized existed.
So why is "Unorthodox" one of these albums for me? Well, the moment I put it on and heard that (at the time!) kind of scary-sounding intro I knew I was going into a darker place; and then when "Enigma" blasts off, my jaw dropped. There was fast aggressive death metal, with great growls, but before I could blink it changed into a break with beautiful clean vocals, before chugging off in a groovy tempo, then back to fast ... I mean, I knew my death metal but this was, indeed, more than death metal. This band were adding additional layers of creativity, had a fantastic grasp of structure and melody, they were in fact being catchy while brutal, and I was sold before "Enigma" ended. And it remains one of my favorite tracks to this day of any band.
Beyond "Enigma" then, the songs become shorter and perhaps none of them can really touch those ungodly first seven minutes, but these tracks are also very, very good. Each song is different from the others; where many death metal bands sound the same from track to track, there are so many ideas thrown about here over the course of the album that each track had something to make it stand out:
"Incipience to the Butchery", which follows "Enigma", is the shortest burst, aggressive and sick and still fantastic so many years later. Some great use of rhythm in this track courtesy of drummer Benny Larson. Cool use of double death growls, really haunting piece of music, full of breaks and groove.
"In the Veins/Darker than Black" is a slower paced composition, with a heavy, eerie introductory riff that sets the mood before Dan Swanö's sick growls enter, yet before you can say "Edge of Sanity rules my world baby", the song breaks into a fast first verse, with some interesting drumming (again - seriously Benny is one of the most underrated drummers in metal in my opinion), some great stops before going into melody which abruptly switches back to brutal death metal, then back again to the melody...what I am trying to convey here is that the songs on this record go back and forth; after the second melody we get a groovy thrash metal-like part before it snaps into fast almost black metal-like territory and so on; yet all the parts seem to be meant to be together, creating a full song. Variety then, as the review promised.
"Everlasting" is another great song with a lot of variation, including fast verses, whispers, growls, almost doom-like parts ("...to prove insanity"), and the awesome chorus with Dan growling without background music, which I found horrendously cool at the time (still do); such a richly textured song yet still so obviously a death metal song. Amazing. Did I mention that Edge Of Sanity became my number one band with this record alone? Damn I played this disc to tiny silver pieces. Yes, I loved Death and Morbid Angel, Obituary and Entombed, but this was taking it all in a more creative direction, more experimental if you will yet firmly grounded in the early genre's cliché.
The album inspired me to think more creatively myself when writing music (one of the reasons I call "Unorthodox" life-changing); their straight-forward anti-christianity gave an Edge (so to speak) to my own words. And I loved how they turned these beautiful melodies into death metal...one of my first bands was, as someone commented, pretty much like Edge Of Sanity in that we employed growling vocals over these rather innocent melodies for effect.
"After Afterlife" (cool title) begins with a slow pace but then suddenly breaks into one of my favorite such melodies ("sent by the powers of the wind"..), I love that shit! The fast melodic riff is followed by yet another great part, a slow-paced melody perhaps somewhat reminiscent of Candlemass before that turns into a thrash groove part, which in turn returns us to that melodic riff, with Dan's delicious growls on top. Before the song is over we're treated to even more ideas, it's just such a rollercoaster!
I remember I simply had to get hold of an Edge Of Sanity shirt after this fantastic album to show my allegiance, and I bought the "Unorthodox" shirt, with the big cross on the back and the excerpt, 'When all things are deniable, go and burn your bible' (paraphrased). How I miss that shirt, years later. It was suddenly gone. I have a suspicion someone less atheistic than me in the family removed it permanently though I've never had it confirmed... ^^
At least I am glad I got to witness the band live, although it was without Dan. I was literally crying when they opened with "Twilight" (and then pissed when things went awry with broken strings etc.); at the concert I hung out with the band backstage and got to play on their guitars and shit. How cool was that.
"Beyond the Unknown" is perhaps the least remarkable song on the album, at least for the first minute. Deeper into the track things begin to take on a more creative aspect like the songs before it, with a particularly groovy chorus ("Beyond the unknown! Yaaaiiiah!! Beyond the unknown!"); it's heavy, it's fast, it's death metal. And who can forget the church bells and the "ia, ia, ia" part at the end weighing up for the somewhat uninspired opening? In that old review, I remember those church bells were mentioned.
"Nocturnal" is a little masterpiece of slow, doom-like death metal with some creepy sound effects and some great melodies. Like I said all songs have something that make them stand out, this one along with "When All is Said" stands out a little more because it is keeps to a few ideas instead of going all over the place. Still, it is a brilliant song, from the chugging riffs in the beginning complete with nice guitar melodies, through the transitional riff to the first verse, Dan's amazing vocals, Benny's excellent fills, the unusual one-string verse riff, the thrashy pre-chorus ("Come with me..."). I can imagine that a new listener in 2011 wonders what I'm so excited about, but seriously, no one did/does slow-paced melodic death metal like this.
Then there is "A Curfew for the Damned", and that song speaks for itself. A triumph of blasphemous dirty death metal. "Ssh!" If you haven't heard this song better go find it on youtube or wherever, turn up the volume and headbang with joy.
"Cold Sun" is, like "Incipience to the Butchery", a short brutal piece but there is also room for some good melodies here. And what a cool way to start off a song, with the drums "sliding" in then everything turns into this chuggy swamp of groove death metal. Heads must bang.
"The Day of Maturity" is another song full of different ideas, going from slow-paced to faster, with the first main riff sounding like it came off Death's "Leprosy" (which isn't a bad thing) before turning strange with weird keyboard sounds breaking into a standard death metal riff lifted by Dan's vocals, then there's a spooky melody on the keyboard, effect-laden spooky growls; this song may be the darkest on the album and the most straight forward death metal-like spiced up a little with strange (but fitting) ideas.
"Requiscon by Page" is a short, beautiful piece of acoustic guitar (I believe it's a traditional piece of music) that really doesn't have any business on this CD but it's there and it's beautiful all right.
"Dead but Dreaming" was the song that showed me that keyboards in death metal didn't necessarily have to be a bad idea (along with "Day of Maturity"); in fact, this record also helped cement that particular deal - getting a keyboard player into our band, yet keeping it decidedly death metal. At this point keyboards were utilized more for effect than as an actual instrument, but that changed quick enough in the years to follow.
The grand finale is "When All is Said", the 'death metal ballad', and what a stunning conclusion to this masterpiece it is. Breaking away from all that has come before on this album, this is a slow, sonorous and almost medieval-sounding piece of music that I loved so much I had to make a music video for it (with a big fucking VHS recorder that is). In the video I remember standing at a cross pretending to be Dan Swanö growling. I was in a video production class and we were supposed to make *something* and I wanted to do an Edge music video. The school, being strictly Christian...well, they frowned upon me standing there with my half-long hair growling and clinging to a cross, and we also did some shoots were I was trying to look spooky while I held some burning candles haha. At the time I don't think it occured to me that I would be offending some people, I was just so in love with the music and the aesthetics of death metal in general. Teehee. But I think we did a good job with the song anyway.
Enough said, this is a classic and one of my favorite albums ever. The most amazing thing is that I would come to love their next albums just as much as this one.
[Originally written for Rate Your Music]
ConorFynes on August 23rd, 2011
Edge Of Sanity - Unorthodox
One of the greatest Swedish metal outfits of all time, Edge of Sanity is a legendary band with some legendary albums to boot. Although most may know them best from their forty minute epic 'Crimson' and their more progressive work, Edge of Sanity was also instrumental in bringing that heavier edge of melodic death metal. Frontman and band mastermind Dan Swano has called their second album 'Unorthodox' his favourite album by the band, even going as far as to call it 'perfect'. While I would be much more moderate in my pleasant feelings towards this album, it is quite a great album, especially for its time. In the period where death metal was finally getting on its own two feet as an artistic form, 'Unorthodox' was a great omen for even more ambitious things to come in the future.
1992 was a year where bands like Death and Athiest were making excellent albums, but across the Atlantic ocean in Scandinavia, the metal scene knew this area mostly for their contributions to black metal. Edge Of Sanity was a great band to take the sound of extreme metal towards the heavier, downtuned death metal sound in Sweden, and even from this second album, it is clear that Edge of sanity were pursuing some surprisingly progressive trends in their music. 'Enigma' opens with an eerie violin lick, before going into volcanic death metal that is full of blastbeats and melodic, yet heavy and dark guitar parts. Dan Swano's growls are also very powerful here, and while not being everyone's taste, his delivery is very good for death metal, and its noticeably easier to make out what he's actually saying than the average growler.
Furthering the progressive trend on this album are unconventional song structures, and even an acoustic interlude towards the end of the album. All the same, 'Unorthodox' is a death metal album before anything else, and while it lacks the precision or polish that alot of modern death metal has, its bite shouldn't be underestimated. 'Unorthodox' is a great album from a great band, and while my enjoyment of the album and its at-times rough edge keeps me from calling it a masterpiece of the genre, it is a classic, for what it is.
optimuszgrime on March 6th, 2008
Last Worthwhile Edge Of Sanity Album
This is one of the saddest mentions in metal history. Dan Swano. Anyone who owns this album and has heard ‘Crimson’ and ‘The Spectral Sorrows’ knows what I am talking about. How did things get so bad, when they started so good with this album and ‘Nothing But Death Remains’? How did such a brilliant man and talented musician like Dan Swano decide to write a bunch of crap like his later albums? This is the last good Edge Of Sanity album, because Swano decided to kill his project in its baby steps. This was only the second full length, and by the time the third came out in 1993, everything had already turned to shit. It is just sad.
This album itself is absolutely brilliant. There is an epic opus on it, but it is not gay, the track is called ‘The Enigma’, and it’s the first one, with a cello and a weird chorus type gospel thing in it. There are growled vocals, furious double times, great sounding standard Swedish death metal guitars and bass, rough around the edges but still perfectly audible and professional recording like Entombed in their ‘Clandestine Blaze’ era. It was all just perfect the riffs were guitar centric and had many leads and higher counter parts and the two guitars and the sick bass lines. And it is all gone. Replaced by whining and boring Viking bullshit or some rock and roll influenced garbage. While this album was not desolate like the first, it still ruled, and in many ways like musically speaking was better than the first one. Other high lights include ‘In The Veins-Darker Than Black’, ‘Nocturnal’ and ‘Curfew For The Damned’ but all the songs have plenty excellent riffs and awesome atmosphere. So yeah, it is sad to listen to this album if you know what comes after it, but it is still one of the best Swedish death metal albums ever.
demonomania on December 1st, 2005
I felt the need to write this review to warn other aspiring Swedeath collectors about this album. Not that it is terrible, it is just average, and doesn't have a whole lot that would make the average old ENTOMBED, GRAVE, or UNLEASHED fan say "Whoah!"
I bought it simply to have another piece of Sweden's golden age, but try as I might I cannot really get into "The Unorthodox." It might just be due to a lack of memorable moments, or less-than-stellar musicianship and production, but deep down I think there just isn't that special something present that makes this album a classic. Grave had the ultra-evil vocals and great slow parts, Entombed fathered the genre with two frenetic albums, but Edge of Sanity just seems to have followed an existing trend.
In terms of the album itself, the guitar sound is classic old Swedeath, but a little warmer than the Sunlight Studios sound, and less raw. The vocals are overall low cookie monster, but not as low as GRAVE (can you tell I like that band?), with some clean vocals in the first track and the occasional high-pitched shriek. The drumming, while fair, is nothing revolutionary for the genre. The bass adds to the overall heaviness, compensating for a less vicious guitar tone.
I don't mean to come across as sounding like I hate this album. It definitely has some good moments, a couple songs that are good all the way through, and some memorably chunky riffage. But some blending does occur toward the middle and end - maybe they could have left a few tracks out and this would have been a winner. Keeper tracks include - "The Unorthodox" - a cool distorted spoken word solo about hating religion, "Incipience to the Butchery" - a fast paced thrashy little bruiser that I wish was longer, "A Curfew for the Damned" - great headbanging breakdown, and "Dead but Dreaming" - a good example of what was going down in early 90's Sweden.
Two tracks frustrate me - the schizo first song with some cheesy clean vocals (boy was I scared when I heard that, I thought the whole album was gonna be full of em) and the last track, which would be a cool and depressing tune if it didn't overstay its welcome by about a minute and a half. The rest are listenable - good background music but little more.
So get it just to hear Dan Swano back in the day, and to chalk up another old school Swedeath album to your collection. But don't expect anything crazy.
MacMoney on November 5th, 2002
We are the Unorthodox!
Why hasn't this band been noted more in the metal scene? The album I hold in my hand, 'Unorthodox', is truly an excellent one. A great piece of early swedish death metal. Most people usually mention 'Purgatory Afterglow' or 'Crimson' when talking about the best albums of Edge of Sanity. While the two aforementioned albums are good I myself prefer 'Unorthodox'. The reason for that is the fact that it contains late 80's style american death metal combined with the melodies of later swedish death metal and the progressive influences of Dan Swanö. The album's first actual track, Enigma, shows it all. The track starts with a sad cello played by Anders Måreby (also played cello on 'Infernal' and probably on other Edge of Sanity albums). When the actual track starts the guitars sound quite weird. Apart from the distortion the sound is quite alike with the cello in the beginning. At first I listen I thought it was the cello still playing. Then it descends into a melodic part with just Swanö's great clean vocals. His death grunts aren't as refined as they are on the later albums but the rawer kind of voice he has fits to the raw music better. Then after the clean part it proceeds to a more brutal part with a fast and melodic guitar riff combining the all three aspects which I stated in the beginning. I won't go into more details except this next one. The song is divided into three parts and every one of them feature all the three things that makes the album so great: brutality, melodiness and progressiveness. 'Enigma' shows how skilled songwriters Swanö&co are they were barely 18 during the making of this album.
Unfortunately the rest of the record isn't at the same level with 'Enigma'. Don't get me wrong most of them include the three aforementioned qualities and are great but the quality of the songs isn't as high as the quality of 'Enigma'. They tend to be more on the speedier, non-melodic spectrum of death metal and quite frankly, Edge of Sanity isn't at their best in those parts. They are good with them but there are just so many bands that are better with that stuff. The moodier and slower parts work better with Edge of Sanity as do the melodic parts. The biggest minus is once again the similarity of the tracks. It doesn't bother me since I'm a big fan of that kind of music but it might bother those who aren't such big fans of death metal.
The lyrics are also a big plus on 'Unorthodox'. 'Enigma' tells about a higher mystery dealing with god and such, 'Beyond the Unknown' is about insanity and about whether the insane or truly out of their mind or do they see something we don't. Also included in the third track, 'Incipience to the Butchery', are some gore lyrics but with a deeper touch than Edge of Sanity's american counterparts. One of the early albums of Edge of Sanity and most probably their most underrated CDs. Most only know them from the aforementioned 'Crimson' and 'Purgatory Afterglow'. So if death metal doesn't scare you I suggest you get this one.
Unorthodox track list
|2||Enigma A) The Blessing B) Celestial Dissension C) The Loss of Hallowed Life||07:06|
|3||Incipience to the Butchery||02:00|
|4||In the Veins/Darker than Black||04:42|
|5||Everlasting (Epidemic Reign Part III)||05:34|
|7||Beyond the Unknown||03:51|
|9||A Curfew for the Damned (...Blind Belief)||04:31|
|10||Cold Sun (Epidemic Reign Part IV)||02:54|
|11||The Day of Maturity||03:44|
|12||Requiscon by Page||01:24|
|13||Dead but Dreaming||04:04|
|14||When All Is Said||06:53|
|Dan Swanö||Vocals, Piano, Lyrics|
|Andreas Axelsson||Guitars, Vocals (additional), Lyrics|
|Sami Nerberg||Guitars, Vocals (additional), Lyrics (track 4)|
|Benny Larsson||Drums, Percussion|