In the growing market for progressive metal, musicians have to distinguish themselves to make sure that they will be noticed. Sometimes the combination of musical skills, stunning compositions and great vocal capacities are all you need; at other times one has to add something special to compensate the weaker parts. The Swedish band Structural Disorder surely did their best to get noticed since Johannes West plays an electric accordion! By mentioning this, I guess that I either have your attention, you have visited the band's homepage by now or you quit reading this review. The other band members are Markus Tälth (vocals, guitar), Hjalmar Birgersson (guitar, piano), Erik Arkö (bass), and Karl Björk (drums).
Before the release of this album they recorded an EP containing four compositions, which are all represented on the band's first full-fledged album The Edge Of Sanity. Basically this album has two sides. On the one side there's harsh prog metal − Rebirth is a good sample − where the heavy riffs are accompanied by higher vocals and massive guitars. To be honest, I prefer the harsh vocals and grunts rather than Tälth's regular voice. During these louder metal compositions the electric accordion sounds as a keyboard, and therefore I prefer these compositions to a song like Peace Of Mind. The vocals sound good in the first part, but they gradually become slightly out of tune until it even starts to hurt. By the sound of the accordion I'm going back in time since I heard this sound a lot in and around my father's house.
The band returns to metal with The Longing And The Chokehold, a strong composition filled with mood changing instrumental parts and harsh vocals. Gradually I start to get a bit annoyed when Tälth sings with his regular voice; apparently that's not my cup of tea. The short interludes Sins Like Scarlet and But A Painting don't add anything to the compositions. During Pale Dressed Masses the vocals become much more acceptable and I wonder why Markus Tälth doesn't sing this way throughout. To me the absolute highlight is the title track in which the influences of Pain Of Salvation are obvious. Vocal wise they don't quite compete, but I notice that they moved a step ahead compared to the first compositions on this album. If all tracks would have sound like the title track, The Edge Of Sanity would have been a killer album.
Structural Disorder still need something extra to get the attention they want. One way or another I noticed progress in the vocals while listening to the album. The singing is acceptable at the end, but is quite annoying during the first half. The compositions are strong and as far as the instrumentalist are concerned I have no complaints at all, but I keep saying it: their flaw is the 'normal' singing.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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