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Beginning to fit their lofty exterior. - 78%

hells_unicorn, April 25th, 2013

Paths Of Possession have been largely an unnoticed blip on Florida's death metal radar, despite touting a sound that is fairly unique alongside the usual classicism or brutality that tends to go with the territory. A lot of this is due to an inability to really follow through on the formula that they've been dancing around since their debut in 2002. The inclusion of longtime veteran and established name George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher into the fold, a deal with Metal Blade, and a better production didn't really solve their issues when "Promises In Blood" was brought out, though it did unmask a bit more of their unrealized potential. What was ultimately missing from the equation was an anchor that would hone all the various influences that were dancing about each other in a disorganized fashion, perhaps maybe a concept of sorts to tie it all together. Thus on 2007, an actual concept album was born of this band in "The End Of The Hour".

The story contained within the lyrics is that of a man who has suffered intensely in life, most likely either at the hands of an invading army or himself being a member of one of two opposing forces at war during the modern era, if the images depicted in the opening song "Memory Burn" are any indication. Things sort of come forth in disorganized chunks insofar as storyline goes, though the reason for this seems to be that the story is told completely in the 1st person, and the storyteller himself evolves from being a raving genocidal lunatic to a supernatural devourer of souls. Truthfully, one of the biggest flaws in this album is that the lyrics come off as quite cryptic at times, so any motive on the part of the protagonist or resulting sympathy from the reader is difficult to discern, leaving a general impression of both horror and rage that is a bit closer to the brand normally reserved to Fisher's own Cannibal Corpse, though in a less graphic and gore-obsessed fashion.

But where lyrical content comes up a bit short, the musical character of this album sees a greater level of organization and polish that previous efforts, resulting in something that successfully marries the positive elements of Gothenburg melodeath and the more dissonant, thrashing and grooving character of this band's own native Florida. As was the case on the previous studio endeavor, the most stereotypically Gothenburg song is thrown in right at the beginning toting the musical mixture of Iron Maiden infused melodic trappings with the occasional dash of American brand dissonance, though this one comes in a much more climactic package and a wild guitar solo that rivals some of Alexi Laiho's fancier leads on "Hatebreeder". As things move along, the balance of Swedish and American influences tips gradually closer to the latter, but there is a much more balanced mix of the two, resulting in some outright powerful bruisers in "I Am Forever" and "In Offering Of Spite" that play up the thrash elements a bit more, but still showcase some consonant harmonic leads.

It should be kept clear that while a sizable step up from previous efforts, "The End Of The Hour" largely sticks to the same general formula that has defined Paths Of Possession" up to this point, just in a more refined and coherent package. There are plenty of grooving fits of Obituary meets early Six Feet Under worship as heard on "Pushing Through The Pass", not to mention some overt reversions to the brutal chaos of Cannibal Corpse in "Ash Is Falling Rain", but it all works together rather than against itself. At the forefront of it all is Corpsegrinder, who in spite of all the solid work out of the instrumentalists in congress, proves to be the most charismatic and commanding force heard. His versatility is exploited to a greater degree on here than his primary project with an array of high pitched wails and middle toned growls, but there is some nods to his classic low end grunting demon persona on the slow trudging parts of "The Ancient Law".

Though this doesn't quite fit the mold of a true, genuine classic album, it is definitely a good album and one that would have been worthy to compete against the big names of Gothenburg back in the late 90s when the style was at its peak, and it towers above the majority of Six Feet Under's output. It's unclear whether Fisher will be making time to do another album with this project given all the activity surrounding Cannibal Corpse of late, but if another album were to emerge bearing the Paths Of Possession moniker, hopefully it will continue down this road, and hopefully they will continue to provide classic early 90s styled Swedish album art to adorn the cover.

Inching along the road to quality - 62%

autothrall, June 15th, 2011

Paths of Possession had honestly come a long way since their debut, the lacking Legacy of Ashes in 2002. Though The End of the Hour is not quite a rousing success, it exhibits several developments over its predecessors. In fact, its the closest I've come to actually enjoying one of their albums, with stronger songwriting and pretty intense production values. The guitar tone in particular is just mighty here, especially as the band use so many simple chugging, thrashing rhythms that border on Pantera grooves that it becomes essential in order for them to retain their effectiveness. The bass is well mixed, curvaceous and pummeling along with the drums, and George Fisher does a hell of a better job than he did on Promises in Blood.

That said, there are a lot of 'basic' elements here that come off as less than exciting. Some of the melodic riffs have a very Maiden feel to them, predictable and generic to the point that they don't really add anything to the muscular rhythmic substrate. Tracks where they have George flexing his chops often feel as they're overbearing. The guy has a nice, narrative sneer that he'll often alternate with his Corpse-grunts (as in "Engulfing the Pure"), but it does come tend to come off more hokey than serious, and that's not really something you want on a concept album about the evolution of some genocidal maniac. Also, for all the solid, melodic hooks that are woven through tunes like "Poisoned Promised Land" or "The End of The Hour" itself, there are quite a few that feel nothing more than empty filler. Thankfully, the thick guitars are such that even the more boring moments can cause the imagination to rock out for a measure or too, but they don't exactly leave an imprint on the memory.

There's a closing, untitled track here which is actually called "Soulless" and was a cover of one of the members' former bands (Cancerslug). I've never heard of them, but the song instantly feels peppier and more fun, like a bunch of groovy ghouls rocking out some death/thrash one night at the local sepulcher. There's enough depth to this one that I almost wish they had just had Cancerslug write all of the Paths of Possession material, because it was at least fun. The bold production, the slight increase in songwriting quality and Fisher's better grasp of his position are just not enough to cross the margin into a solid recommendation, but if you're intent on checking out any of the PoP material, start with this, even if the lyrics and concept are nowhere near what the band probably hoped they'd be.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

I HAZ A CONCEPT...Big Fucking Deal - 46%

GuntherTheUndying, October 5th, 2007

Path of Possession seem to have all the right components of a functioning group, yet they’ve warmly followed every quality of a stereotypical death metal act with repetitive riffs, average percussion, and overall messy musical composition. Even with the legendary George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher of Cannibal Corpse fame holding the microphone; they’ve still managed to dope around with lame efforts like “Promises in Blood.” It’s no question Paths of Possession badly need change, or at least something that adds motivation to a falling group. Would the risky concept record zap the heart back into activity? Yes, but the subject will remain on life support until the pulse stabilizes, if you know what I mean.

Sure they’ve mildly augmented since their last few appearances, but Paths of Possession remains the interchangeable gang of vanilla-pasted metal with little variety, even with a concept record. Titled “The End of The Hour,” Paths of Possession’s conceptual endeavor lacks fundamental aspects of a decent LP; both musically and lyrically. While it’s not the worst thing you’ll ever hear, “The End of The Hour” strains the fibers of pleasure, and is just another boring chapter in the chronicles of an overrated association.

Honestly, this record is definitely the best thing Paths of Possession have ever conjured, but the group’s contagious flaws commonly infect the organs of enjoyment. As usual, we have an average attempt at cramming death metal with melodic touches, and the result isn’t very charming to say the least. The riffs are listenable overall, but sloppy at times; the percussion is standard patterns and double pedal taps with often blastbeat sections; and the bass roams freely, and leaves its droppings for us to indulge. Corpsegrinder is clearly the driving force behind the band and sounds great here, even though he occasionally sounds annoying from raspy tones or high-pitched shrieks. Corpsegrinder is once again the prime figure, and everyone else performs at a mediocre level. Yep, it’s definitely Paths of Possession.

But believe it or not, the occasional sign of improvement does reside under rare circumstances, at least on the musical end. “Memory Burns,” for instance, displays the excellent union of Cannibal Corpse-influenced death metal with stunning melodic harmonies and epic soloing; it’s definitely the best thing ever released under the Paths of Possession moniker. Also, a few of the anthems grapple a sweet transition between heavy, mid-paced breakdowns and fast blasting of all kinds; however, these sections sprout up just a few times. There has been a lot of improvement since “Promises in Blood,” but it’s still the same middle-class attack you’d expect from Paths of Possession.

So yea, the music is second-rate at best, but the most disappointing asset lies within the record’s own lyrical content. Hailed as a concept album, “The End of The Hour” is loosely tied by a confusing story without any clarity about the CD’s own theme, and no causation for important events in the fable itself. “The End of The Hour” is essentially about a man’s suffering in life and death that transforms him into an apocalypse-inducing man upstairs. Sounds interesting, but they screw it up. Here’s the whole story of this demigod as told by our buddies at Paths of Possession:

“Guy has rough time…..and then…..Bam! He’s a big, scary monster! He becomes constipated…..and then.....everyone dies. LMFAO!”

Seriously, there is no coherent connection between the lyrics and the actual story beside this little synopsis I just elegantly provided. The band brags about a meaningful saga of epic amplitudes, but where is it? If you’re going to boast about a concept record, act on it; don’t spiel about apples and serve oranges. It’s probably the most problematic issue on this CD, mainly because it sounded so interesting, but failed to deliver.

"The End of The Hour" is far and away the best thing Paths of Possession have offered thus far; but that really isn't saying much as it still presents a large amount of mediocrity, boredom, and redundancy. Paths of Possession is just a baffling band: They have Corpsegrinder, talented musicians, and occasionally try new ideas, but they can't seem to get anything right, and this conceptual CD still leaves them in the gutter with nothing proved or shown. "The End of The Hour" does, however, sway one idea from theory to fact: Just because record 'X' has a lyrical concept doesn't mean band 'Y' have reached the climax of their career.