By the release of their fourth album, 1994's Purgatory Afterglow, Sweden's prolific Edge of Sanity was cruising -- a well-oiled machine with a growing reputation as one of death metal's most exciting, daring, and innovative acts. Like their good friends (and natural inheritors) Opeth, Edge of Sanity's excellence resides in their ability to juxtapose the most blistering, blast-beat-intensive death (bordering on black) metal offensive with melodic passages of startling beauty. In fact, Purgatory Afterglow's epic opener, "Twilight," with its wild mood swings and abrupt dynamic shifts, may well have served as a matrix for that now-legendary group's imminent debut, which, coincidentally, was engineered by Edge of Sanity's mastermind, Dan Swano. Swano's ability to alternate unintelligible death-grunts and deep, clean-singing vocals with confidence and conviction -- set in accordance to the group's musical backdrop of speedy thrash runs and grinding power riffs, respectively -- helps propel the welcome surprises heard on standout tracks like "Of Darksome Origin," "Silent," and "Velvet Dreams." But by this stage in their development, the band was also capable of pulling off straightforward, more easily digestible fare as well, and three-minute nuggets like "Black Tears" and "Elegy" come as close as death metal ever did to commercial sensibility. All this diversity and open-minded experimentation was, of course, the end result of years of gradual advances (the closing "Song of Sirens" is the album's only oddity, sounding at times like an Entombed tribute song), and with Purgatory Afterglow, Edge of Sanity seemed to strike upon the perfect, delicate balance of extremes that would result in what many still consider their career zenith, 1996's ambitious, 40-minute song Crimson.