The End of the Hour by Paths of Possession
Release date : October 2007
Reviewed by Anthony Morgan
Paths of Possession materialized in 1999 with the trio of Randy Butman, Erin Fuller (Cryptic Winds), Jay Fossen, and Richard Brunelle (ex-Morbid Angel). An initial CD-R in the form of Legacy In Ashes came in 2000, and Fuller left to join Hell on Earth following its release. Brian Ridley of Cancerslug filled the void, and Butman officially left for pastures new (Withered Earth) in January 2003. This put the group on hiatus, although Butman resurrected Paths of Possession following Withered Earth's demise. Butman asked friend and Cannibal Corpse vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher to undertake vocal duties. Six tracks were cut at Ozone Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida, all released in September 2003 via a split with Dark Faith entitled The Crypt Of Madness. Limited to a thousand copies, Splattergod Records issued the effort. Jack Goodwin replaced Richard Brunelle in early 2004, while Ridley left to rejoin Cancerslug. Nick Goodyear stepped behind the drumkit in his place. Metal Blade Records mainman Brian Slagel approached Fisher to sign Paths of Possession, and so the band inked the deal in writing during 2005. St. Petersburg, Florida's Mana Recording Studios provided the location to cut a full length, while Hate Eternal mainman Erik Rutan joined the project in a production capacity. Promises In Blood surfaced in October 2005. The End of the Hour marks the October 2007 follow up to Promises In Blood, delivered two years previous. Once again, Erik Rutan handled production reigns while Alan Douches took care of mixing duties.
Groove is a recurring theme of the album, and a very important word in the context of this review. The towering groove the album boasts just draws in the listener like a moth to the flame, and you can't help but succumb to its charm. These accomplished musicians certainly possess a great ear for melody, accustomed to genuinely knowing the right tune to pen. When the word “melody” is spoken nowadays, many fear that this constitutes a lack of heaviness. Fear not, since heaviness marginally weighs in on all of the tracks. Guitar solos place their creative stamp on each and every track, demonstrating a rather high degree of musicianship. Licks and riffs form the crux of the effort, yet fail to outstay their welcome. On the contrary, they prove to be extremely entertaining.
Whereas Cannibal Corpse usually utilize a dirtier, more aggressive sound to gain a live feel, The End of the Hour bears a markedly cleaner production. That different production style immensely compliments the songs, and highlights each respective instrument. Paths of Possession's traditional approach is rather more accessible than the harsher, infinitely more brutal stylings brought to the fore by Cannibal Corpse. Therefore, it's more palatable to the casual listener. Having said that, this doesn't compromise any of the musical passion which the album oozes. Each member plays their parts with immense heart, and much soul. Also, none of the music seems awkward or stifled. It flows naturally, yet never becomes reliant on recycling aging riffs. Instead of racing along at the speed of a bullet train, the songs mainly operate at a more gathered and altogether considered pace. Fisher opts to scream in a somewhat higher register than the ever so slightly lower, more downtuned growlings commonly associated with his catalogue of work with Cannibal Corpse. Occasionally though, he slips into those lower pitches and that lends a greater variation in the vocal department. It's a great opportunity to hear Fisher's vocals within a different musical backdrop, one which showcases his breadth and depth as a Metal vocalist.
If Paths of Possession was a full time venture, then the world would be their oyster. Hefty bouts of global touring would help the group gain a respectable following amongst Metal audiences, whilst more frequent forays into the recording booth would help validate that possible respect. When it comes to most side projects, most fans only pay the price of admission due to the musicians involved. Gathering dust, more often than not their records only emerge in the collections of avid completists. This album violates that rule on several levels, and deserves much more recognition than it will actually gain.