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Thursday, December 27, 2007

CD Review: Paths of Possession - The End of the Hour

Paths of Possession - The End of the Hour
2007 Metal Blade Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Those who have been following Paths of Possession remember when they were a trio that once included former Morbid Angel guitarist Richard Brunelle. Having released their first album Legacy in Ashes on their own duckets, Paths of Possession has come a few miles as remaining founders Randy Rutman and Jay Fossen have long since fortified their ranks with second guitarist Jack Goodwin, drummer Nick Goodyear and none other than Cannibal Corpse's own George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher growling at the helm.

Having the Corpsegrinder in league with Paths of Possession not only endeared them to a deal with Metal Blade, but it's opened them to a broader audience. Between Paths of Possession's last album Promises in Blood and their 2007 album The End of the Hour, the band has presented Fisher and their audience an alternately challenging form of extremity.

Rather than pound brutally and relentlessly at top speed in deliberately nonsensical thrash odes to gore, Paths of Possession keeps things largely at mid-tempo with a few spurts of speed to pay off their build-ups. Utilizing a heavy dash of old school death and black metal structuring ala Bathory, Candlemass and Dark Angel, Paths of Possession is more about the art of the song versus the bluntness of it. On The End of the Hour, the album's muse focuses upon a war survivor trying to make sense of all that he's been exposed to, mentally standing on the threshhold of hell. He is hypothetically presented with the choice to exhume the hatred he's built up as an exploited soldier or surrender to it and become a harbinger against mankind.

In its own way, The End of the Hour's grim storyline is something of a protest piece, if not a sardonic psychological commentary. When the album does blitz in tempo, it's for a purpose. Mostly the menacing pace of songs like "As Sanities Split," "Memory Burn," "I Am Forever" and "Engulfing the Pure" is to create an aura of the sinister that is capitalized in increments on quicker songs like "In Offering of Spite" and "Pushing Through the Pass."

What Paths of Possession's restrained rhythms offers the listener is a chance to consume Corpsegrinder more in full. As he's normally forced to bark at the speed of a carny huckster or auctioneer in Cannibal Corpse, here he's forced to linger and taper his vocals to fit the more labored tone that Paths of Possession puts at his feet. The chance for Corpsegrinder to catch his breath between verses is unique enough, but the chance for the listener to soak him and the band up is the primary reason to listen to Paths of Possession. They may not be as surgically precise as Cannibal Corpse, but the stitches Paths of Possession threads are heady and felt on a large portion of their punctures.

Rating: ***1/2


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I don't know if The end of the hour is the best album from Paths of Possession, but definitely it's one of the greatest albums this band has produced. I like specially track no.4, it blew my mind.