Edge of Sanity, "Crimson II"
Mmmm, Swano. One of metal's more talented individuals, Mr. Dan Swano has been the driving force behind about a thousand bands, most notably Edge of Sanity, Moontower, Nightingale and Pan Thy Monium (a terribly underrated act). Edge of Sanity was the vehicle that drove his voice to the top of more than a few Best Vocalist lists, though, and its also the act he always be most solidly identified with. They burned out before their time, but before they did, they released "Crimson", a most interesting concept album that stretched a single song to over 45 minutes and set a precedent that Green Carnation and others would follow.
Now, Edge of Sanity is back with "Crimson II", but this time, the other members have exited, leaving Swano to cover songwriting, lyrics, vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and drums by himself. The fact that he does each job admirably and arguably better than the real Edge of Sanity ever did is worth thinking about for a minute.
Musically, "Crimson II" is the logical successor to "Crimson". The vibe is there, the sound is right, Swano's roar sounds as big as ever, and the songs (yes, songs this time!) flow more coherently than any Edge of Sanity material ever has. The production is absolutely huge, with a myriad of sonic details running behind, through and over the massive wall of guitars. The only major change is that the keyboards are pumped up a bit higher in the mix, but it's nothing offensive, and nowhere near what's heard in Moontower or Nightingale. Some bits get a little proggy, which is strange to hear on an Edge of Sanity album, but those moments are far outweighed by the meaty guitars and pounding drums of the abundant death metal sections. The album as a whole flows beautifully, and it's hard to find fault with any of it.
When I first heard that Swano was releasing "Crimson II" as an Edge of Sanity release, I cynically believed that it was either a quick way to cash in on a legacy, or a "contractual obligation" that Edge of Sanity owed Black Mark. Luckily for everyone involved, "Crimson II" comes off as neither, but rather as a fitting capstone to the career of an often overlooked band and the stunningly ambitious man behind it. Viva Swano!Muxlow