Originally written by Tim Pigeon
In the eyes of many metalheads, it’s damn near impossible to top Edge of Sanity’s 1996 opus Crimson in terms of epic single-song albums. So, who better to try and top it than Edge of Sanity themselves?
EOS is another band of which the prolific Dan Swano is the driving force behind, and perhaps his best known. Apparently, a few years back, Swano and the band parted ways, but the remainder of the band continued to produce albums, which were not received with too much fanfare. Now in 2003, Swano decides do one-up them by creating the sequel to the original Crimson by himself.
Normally, one-man projects are noticeably lacking in some context, whether there be one instrument getting short shrift or if the songwriter gets carried away. I’m pleased to report that Swano does none of that. At 43 minutes long, Crimson II is one mammoth composition, subdivided into 9 chapters, but all coherently linked to flow properly as a single song.
The retail version is actually broken up into 44 tracks, roughly one per minute, although it seems as if each new riff ushers in a new track. Comparing the original and the sequel, I dare to say that I think this new effort is better. The production is far better, with guitars that burst forth from the speakers, and deadly reverb-tinged death growls that reach out and strangle the listener. But production isn’t a fair comparison, as recording technology has progressed in the past seven years.
The music itself is at once similar and progressed. While the original conveyed a darker mood, with heavier and more desolate passages, the sequel borrows more from progressive metal to deliver a synth-laden sensation of rebirth. Certain portions seem cut from the same mold as Soilwork’s Natural Born Chaos.
A closer dissection of the song itself reveals quite a few highlights. As was the case with the original, the lyrical story is a fun read, even if you can’t decipher Swano’s diction. Heh. The main riff that leads off the chapter “Incantation”, as well as appearing throughout the album, is one of the best riffs of the year. The thick’n’meaty rhythm riffs typical of Edge of Sanity are littered throughout the album, with memorable ones being found in the beginning of “Passage of Time”, in the first part, “The Forbidden Words”, and the end of “Covenant of Souls”. If you listen closely, you may even hear some that sound a bit too familiar! But even when the speed lets up, quality rules the day. The acoustic/clean segments feature a great atmospheric guitar tone, and they remind me of Pantera at their most reflective and serene.
Ultimately though, the clincher is the spectacular leads that dominate the end of the album. The entire “Face to Face” chapter is amazing, with a lead-off solo worth drooling over. Then, the follow-up chapter, “Disintegration”, provides the stirring climax that you’ve been awaiting for the past 35 minutes.
By this point it should be certain that I see Crimson II as Top 6 material. Swano has delivered yet another great slab of melodic-progressive-epic-whatever metal. This is very recommended for fans of diverse genres of metal, and heck, anyone who appreciates fine music. Go buy this, you’ll get much more enjoyment from this album than the 3 beers that you’d have spent the money on otherwise.