It was the last album to contain the talents of the late guitarist Criss Oliva and it is the first Savatage album to feature Zachary Stevens on lead vocals, following the departure of Jon Oliva from the fore of the band.
Also the drums on this album sound different, from other Savatage records, as Steve "Doc" Wacholz decided to use electronic drums. Although most of the drum kits sound authentic, a difference in the sonority of the toms can be heard.
All That I Bleed and Miles Away were the last songs Jon Oliva, Criss Oliva and the producer Paul O'Neill wrote together. For that, these are still Jon Oliva's two favorites on the album.
The woman in the picture of the album art is Dawn Oliva, Criss Oliva's wife. Gary Smith, who also did the front and back covers for Hall of the Mountain King, the front cover for Gutter Ballet, the back cover for Streets, and all of Criss Oliva's airbrushed guitars, painted the cover. The face in the trees is supposed to be Jon Oliva, though producer Paul O'Neill disputes that despite its publication in a Criss Oliva interview from 1993. The cover is supposed to represent good (the woman) vs. evil (the face in the trees). According to Criss Oliva in a 1993 interview, "The girl is surrounded by fear and innocence. But the face in the trees is evil. Everything around her is evil. It's about good and evil. The songs on the CD reflect this, too."
Sea of Tranquility reviewer Murat Batmaz defined the album as "completely different" from its predecessor, Streets: A Rock Opera. He mentioned that Edge of Thorns was more "guitar-driven" and praised guitarist Criss Oliva's performance in particular. Batmaz also gave a special mention to new vocalist Zak Stevens, noting that his vocals are "smooth, melodic and more accessible."