Sound: Hiding in the shadows of Edge of Sanity's critically acclaimed "Crimson", Purgatory Afterglow never got the recognition it deserved. Purgatory Afterglow is one of the most versatile death metal albums ever released, cementing Edge of Sanity as one of the most important death metal bands of the 90's. Dan Swano, the creative force behind Edge of Sanity took the band to an entirely new level in 1994, first with their EP "Until Eternity Ends" bringing more melodic elements into progressive death metal, and then with Purgatory Afterglow.
"Entirely original" is a word that could be used to describe this album. Even with somewhat poor production quality, the album seems to go beyond mastering in the studio, and opens your mind to look for more than just the same old riffs and death metal growls in every death metal song. Let's break it down track by track shall we?
01."Twilight": an eight minute album opener? That's right. The song starts off with some sort of keyboard synth/strings, and Dan Swano's beautiful clean vocals. Before long, the song breaks into a legendary progressive riff, and soon into a brutal verse. In the middle of the song, the interlude appears. It resembles the same music as the opening, only it is a spoken word poem of sorts, rather than sung. This song goes everywhere, and it is easy to see why it is considered one of Edge of Sanity's best.
02."Of Darksome Origin": fear not close minded death metal fans! If you're not into the whole "experimenting" thing, this song is for you. Edge of Sanity goes back to it's roots with the great brutal death metal that got them recognized to begin with.
03."Blood-Colored": although at first you would expect more growls coming from Swano to back the intense progressive riff this song begins with, clean vocals are what you're greeted by, in a completely appropriate manner. As the chorus enters, so do the brutal growls. An amazing breakdown is the highlight of this song.
04."Silent": the intro is truly what hooks you in Silent, including acoustic cuts, but never giving you enough to forget it's Edge of Sanity, as the acoustic parts are continually cut off by the distorted guitars and the crashing cymbals. The song is fast, aggressive, and overall brutal.
05."Black Tears": talk about breaking the norm. Black Tears is hardly even a death metal song. With no growling, screaming, barking, and entirely melodic riffs, Black Tears seems more like a Nightingale song... Well it just so happens this now legendary song is played by Nightingale quite often, and Nightingale's frontman is Dan Swano. This song has been covered by bands like Eternal Tears of Sorrow and Heaven Shall Burn. No doubt one of the best, though completely different from anything they had ever done, that's what makes this album shine, or dare I say, glow.
06."Elegy": a very melodic song, Elegy generally maintains a steady tempo, with the exception of a tempo change very early on in the song, up until halfway through the song when the interlude hits, and more melody's fly off the fingertips of guitarists Dread and Sami Nerberg. Of coarse it wouldn't be Edge of Sanity with an entirely muddy sounding breakdown after the interlude, but then it quickly jumps right back into the melodies. Very well composed song.
07."Velvet Dreams": that's right, another long one. With the initial quality sounding like a garage bands bootlegged demo. The song jumps into the normal quality after the intro, and maintains as slow and steady beat that any headbanger can appreciate. Around halfway through the song, a beautiful melody begins to caress your ears, but not before long, we are brought back to the headbanging goodness of Velvet Dreams.
08."Enter Chaos": the shortest track on the album, Enter Chaos is just... Chaotic. Truly a death metal fans kinda song, and a breath of fresh air from the long, somewhat slow Velvet Dreams. Dan Swano shows is peace loving side on this one, with the lyrics being based mainly on guns, and the corruption that follows them.
09."The Sinner And The Sadness": everyone loves 6/8 timing. Bringing a great groove to it, The Sinner and the Sadness is another headbangers favorite. The song has no large perks, or very experimental elements, but the song in a sense, is very creative compared to the rest of the album, in that it is a straight up, no bullshit death metal song.
10."Song Of Sirens": the oddity of the album, especially to end the album. Sounding more like a Sepultura song rather than an Edge of Sanity song, Dan Swano takes more risks by going against the norm of death metal vocals, instead choosing to yell at the top of his lungs. There is also a spine shilling interlude, in which you see early elements of the now popular metal-core sound, proving once again that Edge of Sanity broke more ground than given credit.
The album just abruptly ends unfortunately, not a good way to go out honestly, but whatever not every album needs a closer right? // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics will leave you not knowing what Dan is talking about most of the time. Now, some songs are quite obvious, and some just mere fantasy, but some... Namely Song of Sirens, seem to make no sense whatsoever. But looking beyond what he's saying, and listening to his vocals, WOW. It it easy to see why Dan Swano is considered such a legend. He goes from death growls, to clean, to screams, to plain yelling, he goes everywhere on this album, and that's what's so amazing about this album. Dan Swano doesn't fail to impress on this album. // 9
Overall Impression: This album deserves more recognition in the death metal audience. Whether or not you like Edge of Sanity's experimental sound, it was a sound that should be more well respected. Edge of Sanity truly did help create a vital sound for death metal, at the time, death metal was fairly 1-dimensional, but with Edge of Sanity, Opeth, and the melodic death metal movement breaking out in the 90's, death metal has really branched out into a very versatile genre. A genre, that waved "bye bye" to the traditional sound of metal long ago, and created a sound of it's own.
Whom this album is for: Fans of Progressive Death Metal, those looking for a new sound, fans of Dan Swano's work, fans of death metal in general, fans of goth-rock will enjoy Black Tears as well.
Whom this album is NOT for: Those who are crazy about good production quality, close minded people, I honestly can't think of too many people that wouldn't enjoy this album who are death metal fans.
All in all, this album is terrific, I recommend it to any death metal fan, especially those trapped in the confines of death metal acts like Cannibal Corpse(not that there's ANYTHING wrong with CC), this album will truly open your mind to new forms of death metal, and even other forms of metal in itself. // 10