"Unorthodox" marks the end-of-an-era for EDGE OF SANITY, as the band would shift their style to a somewhat more streamlined, melodic direction on "The Spectral Sorrows". Here, as on their debut "Nothing But Death Remains", they are more rooted in a somewhat "ENTOMBED meets OBITUARY meets BOLT THROWER"-sound, with less melody than their later albums would contain, along with more riffs and sections in each song. While there IS still some melody to be found here and there, as in the "Enigma"-trilogy, it is countered by even more sections of thrashing, blasting, and brutality, with the occasional slow "mammoth of doom"-riff as well.
Certain aspects of this album indicate a band that is in the throes of an intense musical hunger. Songs like "After Afterlife," "The Day Of Maturity" and "Beyond The Unknown" contain a multitude of time changes, ultra-thrashy Speed Metal-sections, and classic Death Metal-riffs, sounding a bit technical for EoS, even though they were never known for their technicality. Dan Swanö mainly sticks to his trusty Death-vocals throughout, while occasionally, as at the beginning of "Enigma", he does some melodic vocals. Generally, though, the album's material is so heavy that clean vocals simply would not work.
I think what kept this album from being more noticed among EoS's other works was its lack of focus. The wealth of different riffs in each song becomes a bit much after awhile, eventually making the songs difficult to distinguish from one another. The band is definitely coming into their own on "Unorthodox", especially in terms of songwriting, as their musical abilities are certainly not in question here. There are brilliant ideas abound, but the thread linking it all together is somehow missing. Many riffs sound derivative of bands that came just before them, namely ENTOMBED and DISMEMBER, while other riffs are brilliantly inventive, and hint at a band with great things in store...
There is a nice breather in "Requiscon By Page", which is a solo piece played on a nylon string guitar, and on "Dead But Dreaming" we get an excellent slow breakdown with keyboards and some frightening vocal whispers. "When All Is Said" serves as a brilliant closing track as well, slow and dark, with some nice keyboards and dynamics. All of this definitely does something to inject some life into the album, but for myself, EoS's real strengths had not yet been realized on the majority of "Unorthodox", they are pretty much "dropping hints" throughout...
Still, I recommend this to any and all fans or newcomers of EDGE OF SANITY. This is one band who's back-catalogue deserves adequate attention. In fact, their entire catalogue deserves it!