Sound — 8
The band responsible for such conversation-inducing tracks like God Gives Head In Heaven is back with its third studio album, and it's certain this is a band that hasn't wavered on its opinions. While Aeon's latest record Path of Fire doesn't feature titles that are that immediately controversial, it still delivers an onslaught on the senses with plenty of anti-Christian themes underneath to piss off the religious right. The Swedish death metal group doesn't let up much in terms of insanely fast tempos, chugging guitars, and demonic vocals, and rhythmically Aeon is a musical dynamo. This is a band that doesn't necessarily get stuck too long on any one specific melody line, and in many ways that keeps Path of Fire an extremely fascinating listen. The opener Forgiveness Denied throws quite a bit at you from the first few seconds, with the double bass pedal a standout in that track. It sets the tone for the entire record, which doesn't get mired in slower, more melodic moments. Pinch harmonics are in heavy supply throughout Path of Fire, whether in the aggressive Inheritance or Suffer The Soul, which uses them sparingly, but in creative fashions. While there are some tracks that do feature lead guitar lines intermittently, Aeon doesn't necessarily want you to get too used to them. As soon as you do, the band has moved on to a completely different musical section. The one slight breather you get from the up-tempo furiosity is Total Kristus Invertus, the diabolically titled interlude which offers one of the most chilling moments on the CD. The track shifts the mood dramatically by being as restrained as you can imagine when compared with the other 10 tracks. Total Kristus Invertus is almost a cinematic venture, starting with quiet, haunting sounds that are eventually joined by the sounds of a subtly picked acoustic. There's a heavy Middle Eastern vibe to Zeb Nilsson's guitar work, which because it's free from distortion or effects, truly outlines what an impressive technical player Nilsson is.
Lyrics — 8
Aeon's sound is not for the fainthearted, but it's actually the lyrical content that once again makes this band stand out from the pack. As usual, the band deliberately sticks it to any topic dealing with God and/or religion, in usually the most offensive way possible. For those who have a strong distaste for Christianity, Path of Fire should leave you grinning ear to ear. Whether vocalist Tommy Dahlstrom is declaring his own personal agenda in I Will Burn (I am what you despise; I am a needle in God's eye; No congregation of yours can change who I am) or broaching the uncomfortable subject of sexual abuse within the church in The Sacrament (On your pretty knees; Open your little mouth; Look me in the eyes; Swallow your way to Christ), Aeon doesn't hold back their true feelings. This is not necessarily a new thing for Aeon, but songs like Sacrament still can be an uncomfortable listen. In the end, you could certainly make the argument that Aeon is lyrically pertinent for the fact that they keep the topic of anti-censorship alive and kicking.
Overall Impression — 8
Path of Fire features some incredible arrangements throughout, with pinch harmonics and brief leads being thrown in and out of songs at the a moment's notice. There's still a cohesive quality to it all in spite of the spastic nature to everything, whether it's the shrieks of Dahlstrom or the nonstop beats of Nils Fjellstrom. A huge statement against religion is the driving force of Path of Fire, and that very well may shape your opinion of the album. In a world where there are so many generic, assembly line lyrics out there, Aeon's abrasive (but defined) themes are perhaps not such a terrible thing.