"Path of Fire"

(Metal Blade)

01. Forgiveness Denied
02. Kill Them All
03. Inheritance
04. Abomination To God
05. Total Kristus Inversus
06. Of Fire
07. I Will Burn
08. Suffer The Soul
09. The Sacrament
10. Liar In The Name Of God
11. God Of War

RATING: 8.5/10

It sounds like a Polish death metal band (let's say BEHEMOTH) modeling its sound after a USDM style reminiscent of CANNIBAL CORPSE and MORBID ANGEL, yet performed by Swedish musicians. That would be AEON and if that description makes the band sound awfully goddamned heavy that's because they are awfully goddamned heavy. AEON's 2007 sophomore album and first release for Metal Blade, "Rise to Dominate", impressed the hell out of me for several reasons: (1) Unmitigated brutality; (2) memorable songwriting; (3) great production; and (4) that you'll-know-it-when-you-hear-it "wow" factor. The winning streak continues with "Path of Fire", an album that impresses for all the same reasons.

Most appealing is that "Path of Fire" is that rare album that sounds similar enough to a beloved predecessor to keep the fans it made last time around fat and giggly, yet just different enough to be respected on its own merits with potential for a further expansion of the fan base. The CANNIBAL CORPSE and MORBID ANGEL influences are still present ("Forgiveness Denied", "I Will Burn", "Suffer the Soul") yet a super-bludgeoning HATE ETERNAL approach is also apparent in parts. Since Erik Rutan mixed the album (Marcus Edvardsson is responsible for the outstanding production) and AEON toured with his band that's probably not much of a coincidence. You can certainly hear it in the thunder 'n jackhammer drum sound (it'll kill ya dead, I'm serious). Intentionally or otherwise, one can even hear some ORIGIN from time to time, particularly in some of the vocal patterns of Tommy Dahlstöm on "Kill Them All". In fact, Dahlstöm gives his best vocal performance to date on "Path of Fire", his guttural growl as beefy and murderous as ever (from which he effortlessly switches to shrieks and Corspegrinder screams), while his enunciation is vastly improved. Seen as how we're throwing out household USDM band names, it is worth mentioning that "Of Fire" features a little DEICIDE going on too (with some choral effects that provide perfect accent), and not just because of; the rabidly anti-religious sentiments heard on it and damn near every other song for that matter. "The Sacrament" takes the cake in that regard with lyrics that belittle and scorn the blindly faithful ("just do as you're told").

So were you expecting a death metal album in "Path of Fire" that somehow open the floodgates of creativity? How about one that takes an established form and performs it about as well as it can be performed? How about one that savagely assaults the listener, whilst ensuring that each track is written to maximize memory retention? That album is "Path of Fire" and it has been designed to meet the needs of the discerning death metal fan. Well done…again.


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