Path of Fire

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One thing that you won't hear a lot of death metal musicians or death metal fans doing is complaining that they don't get enough respect from rock's mainstream. Death metal has long thrived on its underground, outside-the-mainstream status, and the kids in the mosh pit aren't losing any sleep over the fact that the bands they admire won't be opening for 3 Doors Down anytime soon. That said, death metal musicians like it when folks within their subculture compliment them on their chops. It does, in fact, take chops to pull off the type of mildly technical death metal that Aeon provides on Path of Fire. There isn't much variety or nuance on this 2009 recording; Aeon aren't a melodic death metal band of the Callenish Circle/In Flames/At the Gates/Age of Ruin variety. Path of Fire, despite a few melodic passages on occasion, is mainly about bombast for the sake of bombast, but it's bombast that requires a considerable amount of technical proficiency; the members of Aeon wouldn't be able to pull this material off if they didn't have their chops together and hadn't spent a lot of time "in the shed," as jazz musicians like to say (in jazz terminology, "the shed" is where musicians practice, practice, practice their instruments and learn to play them well). So even though Path of Fire doesn't have much variety and takes few chances, Aeon's chops and musicianship are still impressive. Aeon's textbook approach to Swedish-style death metal has its creative limitations, but it's something they are obviously good at. For die-hard death metal moshers, this is an exhilarating, if predictable, listen -- creative limitations and all.

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