Paths of Possession

Promises in Blood

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Death metal didn't originate in Scandinavia any more than jazz originated in New York City; the blues originated in Chicago; or Afro-Cuban son, mambo, guaguancó, and cha cha originated in Puerto Rico. But just as the Big Apple became synonymous with jazz, Chicago became a blues mecca and Puerto Ricans became major players in Afro-Cuban music, death metal/black metal is now closely identified with the Scandinavian countries. That is true of the ultra-harsh, totally unforgiving stuff as well as the more nuanced approach known as melodic death metal (which is closely related to symphonic black metal). But saying that melodic death metal has been a largely Nordic phenomenon in the '90s and 21st century isn't saying that it has become an exclusively Nordic phenomenon -- and on Promises in Blood, Florida's Paths of Possession remind listeners that there is no reason why American moshers shouldn't continue to participate. One shouldn't forget that before Sweden and Norway became such crucial players in death metal/black metal, Florida was the home of producer Scott Burns and sledgehammer bands like Deicide, Obituary, Death, Malevolent Creation, Possessed, and Cannibal Corpse. In fact, the lead singer on this 2005 release is none other than George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher of Cannibal Corpse fame. But Promises in Blood isn't nearly as extreme as the grindcore that put Cannibal Corpse on the map. Fisher's vocals on this CD are generally a deep, guttural, demonic growl, but this time he is bringing his growl to songs that have real song structures and honest to God melodies. While Cannibal Corpse favorites like Butchered at Birth and Eaten Back to Life are exercises in brutality for the sake of brutality, Paths of Possession are -- for all their heaviness and intensity -- much more musical and nuanced. Promises in Blood won't go down in history as the most original CD of 2005, but it's a respectable demonstration of the fact that melodic death metal doesn't have to be Scandinavian to be worthwhile.

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