Wipers - Over the Edge (1983), 8/10

Just as in its predecessor Youth of America, in Over the Edge Greg Sage seems to have an other-worldly ability to inject any song with brutal, grounded rage and angst. I sat with this record trying to find out why I love it so much and three things kept surfacing during every song: infectious melodies, extremely dark and passionate vocal performances, and surreal/immersive soundscapes. Truly in every single track with no exceptions. The chanting in "Doom Town" followed by Greg's swelling flourishes on guitar, the creeping buildup in "So Young" resulting in the absolutely chilling scream of "only the good die young!", the droning instrumental in "Romeo" followed by the piercing "Juliette!!!", the lucid and serene atmosphere of "The Lonely One" perfectly accented with growling vocals; they all move so deeply it’s hard to put to words without gushing over Greg’s writing and performing abilities. Over the Edge has a certain carnal energy that exemplifies everything that made Wipers so wonderful to listen to, both on their debut and extended onto this record. It has the deep, cavernous atmosphere discovered in their experimentation, the distant isolation they bottle so well, the catchy melodies achieved in Is This Real?, and the dark sexual energy unique to this record. It is worth mentioning while the album still retains some of Wipers’ catchy, straightforward sensibilities, there is an individual characteristic gloom and doom apparent from the start. Greg sounds angrier and fiercer than ever, leaning on his carnal energy in an unrivaled fashion in comparison to their other albums, or even in comparison to punk in general at the time when considering the particular themes of heartbreak and seclusion. The songs themselves are leaner, yet punchier than before, boasting some of Wipers’ best composed tracks and certainly some of Greg’s best written lyrics. There is, again, not a single weak track in the mix, and while it does not quite reach the psychedelic heights of Youth of America, it is a formidable successor as an adept exploration of loneliness, and if nothing else deserves a place among the greats for nearly perfect songs like “So Young”, “Romeo” and “The Lonely One”. Essential for any lover of heavy punk rock and a surprisingly timeless experience.