“Path Of the Weakening”, the third Deeds Of Flesh record, is an album of firsts and lasts. It was the last to feature co-founder/drummer Joey Heaslet, and the sole effort to feature second guitarist Jim Tkacz. The termination of contract with Repulse Records prompted the members to form their own label imprint to market and distribute its music. It is the first Deeds Of Flesh record to be released under the band’s own label imprint Unique Leader Records. For all intents and purposes it is the end of the first era.
Like its predecessor this third record continued to broaden the band’s expanding lyrical subject matter. ‘Lustmord’ reads like a pale imitation of the Suffocation song ‘Marital Decimation’. ‘Path Of the Weakening’ is in all probability is about the Donner Party, a group of settlers that resorted to cannibalism when starvation hit while snowbound in the mountains during the winter of 1846-47. ‘Summarily Killed’ and ‘Sound Of Loud Reigns’ deal with conflict and warfare. ‘Execute the Anthropophagi’ is a follow-up to the preceding album’s title track, and further chronicles the happenings surrounding the semi-mythical Sawney Bean clan. ‘A Violent God’ quotes parts from the Book Of Revelation with all quotes rewritten to fit the band’s warfare concept.
While architecturally similar to “Inbreeding the Anthropophagi” the dual guitar work allows for slightly more groove, while the drumming remains as diversified as expected. The presence of a second guitar makes the attack slightly thicker, but remains nearly identical otherwise. ‘Path Of the Weakening’ has the characteristic bass break, but it is fairly ineffective due to the light tone that was adopted here. ‘I Die On My Own Terms’ is one of the shortest tracks on the record, but also its most morbidly atmospheric. ‘A Violent God’ borders ever so slightly on Morbid Angel territory because of its churning riffing, and trudging dirge tempo. However none of it is explored deep enough to truly state that Deeds Of Flesh was moving out of its narrow comfort zone. All three tracks of the independently released “Promo 1999” make their return on this album. A promo music video was shot for the opening track ‘Indigenous to the Appaling (Mutinous Human)’, but it was never officially released in any capacity for undisclosed reasons.
The album heralded the end of the traditional death metal period in the Deeds Of Flesh first decade discography. For one more record after this the band would persevere with death metal factory Moon Productions in Arroyo Grande, California. It was the addition of new drummer Mike Hamilton that instigated a stylistic shift towards a more atonal, hookless writing direction. The difference between the first three and next three albums is one of night and day. Along with the shift in direction the production changed accordingly. “Path Of the Weakening” is the last Deeds Of Flesh record to sound traditional in both writing and production. The successors to this album, arguably the band’s breakthrough to a wider audience, would opt for a digitized, flatter and sterile production sound befitting of the band’s newly adopted atonal, linear style that put a great emphasis on inhuman control and precision than that of atmosphere and feeling.
As before the trio recorded at Moon Productions in Arroyo Grande, California with Thomas E. Gingell producing. Moreso than its predecessor “Path Of the Weakening” has a thick, crunchy guitar tone, whereas the bass guitar tone on the other hand is very light in comparison to the guitars it is supporting. The drum production is not nearly as warm, and organic sounding as on the preceding record, but it is efficient otherwise. The artwork by tattoo artist Jon Zig is similar in color scheme to the one of the preceding record, but it is better and more detailed on all fronts. Likewise has the typesetting and photography improved after the rather empoverished efforts of the prior albums. The album sold in excess of 15.000 copies, and its lengthy international touring campaign would instigate the defection of second guitarist Jim Tkacz as a result.
For the most part “Path Of the Weakening” was a direct continuation of the “Inbreeding the Anthropophagi” sound with the added benefit of a second guitarist. The material is slightly groovier, while the return of original skinsman Joey Heaslet gave the album much needed percussive propulsion. The addition of a second guitar layer made this record fuller sounding than its already considerably bass-heavy predecessor. On the visual front the band made a considerable improvement, as both the cover artwork and general layout were much better on this all important third record. Consistent with the style of its predecessor “Path Of the Weakening” mostly functions as an evolutionary piece of the sound the band had perfecting prior. A true shift in the band’s sound wouldn’t occur until this album’s successor, and the introduction of a new drummer.