Possessed - Seven Churches (Century Media) 1985
1. "The Exorcist"
Most people consider this to be one of the first death metal albums, if not the first. Many would even argue that Possessed are the forefathers of death metal. I would argue that Death probably deserve that crown, but "Seven Churches" is an important album in the evolution of thrash and death metal. Musically, this band mixes the manical growl of Venom with they hyper-energy of the late 80's thrash bands. The name of the game here is speed, aggression and more speed. Possessed took what Slayer had been doing and added their own flair. Guitarist Larry LaLonde had been a student of Joe Satriani. As such, you can hear some of the innovative, and sometimes bizarre, guitar licks and tricks. However, Possessed were never about innovation, it was about metal, speed and aggression. In that they certainly deliver. The vocals are grunted out in an almost punk-like fashion.. Of course the best thrash bands always had that punk influence in their sound to begin with. Jeff Becerra's proto-death metal growl were so raw in comparison to all the other thrash metal bands of their day, this is why they are often described as the first death metal band. Of course actually having a song called "Death Metal" may also have been a reason that Possessed are often crowned as the first death metal band. Perhaps it might be better said that Possessed coined the phrase "death metal" in much the same way Venom coined the phrase "black metal".
Unfortunately, I rarely ever listen to this CD. The lyrics are so insipid I won't even waste the time explaining them in any great detail. The name of the game is "look how evil we are..death, hell, 666, satan...Grrrr!" I realize that the whole thing was just a gimmick on par with a b-grade horror movie, but I am just not all that interested in blasphemous lyrics. Thankfully, the vocals are delivered in such a way that the lyrics become less important.
Possessed - Beyond the Gates (Combat) 1986
1. "Intro/The Heretic"
"Beyond the Gates" was the band's sophomore release and features a raw, fast thrash metal sound with raw vocals that are tame by today's death metal standards. I'd say Possessed were musically equal parts Venom and Slayer, and unfortunately lyrically within the same league as well. Can't say that I care for the horror/occult lyrics or the whole 'dark' image of the band. Regardless of how anyone feels about their lyrical approach, Possessed were without a doubt musical innovators for thrash and death metal, and "Beyond the Gates" is a CD that has a secure place in heavy metal history. This disc has been released several times, some with bonus tracks.