Sunday, 18 March 2012

EDGE OF SANITY - Nothing But Death Remains (1991)

01  Tales...
02  Human Aberration
03  Maze of Existence
04  The Dead
05  Decepted by the Cross
06  Angel of Distress
07  Impulsive Necroplasma
08  Immortal Souls
09  Pernicious Anguish

"Nothing But Death Remains" is the first studio album by the Swedish death metal band Edge of Sanity, released by Black Mark Productions on July 9, 1991. The album is dedicated to the memory of John Med Gummihandsken and contains 8 tracks (9 tracks if you have the Japanese version) of old school Swedish death metal distributed over 31:52 minutes. Songs like "Decepted By the Cross" and "Immortal Souls" are pounding, fast-paced compositions that induce an adrenaline rush in the listener. Two songs on this LP are part of the "Epidemic Reign" series, which later continued onto Edge of Sanity's second album "Unorthodox". Contrary to what one may think, these songs aren't particularly 'epic' or anything of that sort. They're just your typical death metal cuts that happen to share a continuing story divided into chapters. The musicianship on the album is simple, but what do you expect from a bunch of teenagers?
I wouldn't call the album a typical Swedish old school death metal release though. Tracks like "Tales..." feature way too many tempo changes, relatively technical playing, a couple of time signature changes and some progressive ideas too, to be called a "regular" old school Swedish death metal release. It's obvious already this early on in the band's career that they are not a one trick pony. The music is still raw, the vocals are brutal growls and there is enough primal energy in the tracks to satisfy conservative old school death metal fans.

While the songwriting is of a pretty decent standard for the time and the musicianship is great too, there is unfortunately a pretty serious issue with the album.....The sound production is pretty horrible. It's as though the album was recorded too high and therefore there are several sections that sounds distorted. The worst part is how a couple of times during the playing time the volume suddenly drops though. It's like someone fell asleep while mixing the album and accidently hit the volume button a couple of times. The drums have an awkward sound too and the guitars sound thin. So here is really a prime example where the production has great impact on how much you can enjoy an album.

Edge Of Sanity are quite a beloved band nowadays, with plenty of classics under their belt, but they had quite simple, humble beginnings on this album.  Far from the technical, surrealistic style of their later works, Nothing But Death Remains is as straightforward a death metal album as you can get, to the point of near obsolescence.  I mean, there really isn't much to single it out at all.  It may be unfair to compare it to later greats, but even when compared to the elite death metal statesmen of the day, like Grave or Dismember, or tech greats like Pestilence or Atheist, it doesn't stand out.  The talent is certainly there, and if you listen real close you can maybe just maybe make out the tiniest hint at the direction this band would take in the future, but it's not really worth a look compared to other efforts.

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