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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.