Paths Of Possession - Promises In Blood - 2005 - Metal Blade Records
1. Darklands 2. Butcher's Bargain 3. Bleed the Meek 4. The Second Coming 5. Where the empty gods lie 6. Heart for a Heart 7. In My Eyes 8. Erzsebet 9. Promises in Blood 10. Bring me the Head of Christ 11. Through the Fiery Halls 12. The Icy Flow of Death
Paths Of Possession has definitely led me in the right direction, a well worn trail that leads right into the heart of death metal, really stirring the emotions and bringing back what was once so great about this particular facet of heavy metal. "Promises In Blood" marks the band's second release to date and the first for Metal Blade. At first I was a bit put off by the idea of George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher fronting this band. I'm not a fan of his vocal style, really finding his work with Cannibal Corpse irritating and rather immature. But after the first few vocal lines of the melodic opener "Darklands", my mindset completely changed. Paths Of Possession is really a unique band as they are from the Florida area but play a style of music that focuses on the Scandinavian metal scene, mostly that of the early 90s. If I didn't know the difference I would have bet the farm that the group were Swedish and released this album in the mid-90s. Everything from the guitar tone to Fisher's vocal effort is a welcome change of pace from what most of today's modern death metal musicians strive for.
Again I'll go back to Fisher's vocal lines, with his register here being deep but still remaining at a level where the listener can still understand exactly what he is saying. That is not the case with his previous work on Monstrosity and Cannibal Corpse. He has changed his vocal style to fit more into the "niche" or genre that they are paying homage too, with Fisher's voice probably closer to a mix of Johnny Hedlund (Unleashed) and Karl Willetts (Bolt Thrower). I really enjoy this style and it really adds that bottom heavy effect to the band's sound. Along with that comes the US/Swedish formula, with this being a good mixture of both sounds. From the US the band takes a good amount of the Bay Area thrash sound and they combine it with material that would be in common with the early pioneer days of Unleashed, Grave, and Hypocrisy. Famed metal madman Erik Rutan steps in to give this one a huge, polished production sound.
The band isn't quite as fast as popular Polish bands like Vader and Decapitated, but they do carry that same amount of heaviness and precision. You won't find blast beats are timing changes too much with Paths Of Possessions, instead the band rely on a traditional metal sound, mixing in slower thrash beats with the straight forward, groove oriented riffs. With some cuts like "A Heart For A Heart" you can almost hear influences from Altar and Bludgeon, with that style being very plodding and riff oriented, and keeping a good thrash rhythm to it that doesn't sound like rehashed Slayer. Of course the band add in a good mix of slower, more doom friendly sections, most notably parts of "In My Eyes" and "Promises In Blood". I really enjoy the great sense of melody brought to "Darklands" and "Bleed The Meek", as it fits the band's "tribute" to the more simplistic and traditional metal outlets.
Bottom Line - It seems like a really good handful of metal always seems to find it's way into my hands every year. Out of those releases it seems like the best has been saved for last. As the year finally winds down I've discovered what may be the best death act of the year, and quite possibly one of the best albums of the genre I've heard since Six Feet Under's debut ten years ago.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
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