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Shoulda been more possessed less by the sea - 74%

Gutterscream, November 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, Disaster

“…eat the fruit from the tree of evil…”

Oh, hey there. Didn’t see ya through the mist. Don’t get many visitors ‘round these parts usually, though I did get two this year alone, which is pretty sweet. Before that, nuthin’ for like six. You seem confused. Yeah, it’s me talkin’ to ya…the well-dressed soggy guy on the cover. I’d introduce myself, but I was never really given a name, though you may remember me from the old ’82 Beastmaster movie. I was the Jun horde leader. Don’t remember? Really? Everyone's seen this flick, right? It was on HBO so often it was joked that it was an abbreviation of "Hey, Beastmaster's On". I’m first seen toward the beginning, when my horde’s sacking that village for no apparent reason while I’m hanging out on my horse. It’s where I have my one line that got me my actor’s guild card, the part where I’m finally bored with the mayhem and yell ‘rhraaaaaa!”, which was apparently the signal that we were all going for ice cream, ‘cos that’s exactly where we ended up right after, key grip’s treat. How can you not remember that? Well, I actually get more screen time at the end.

Yeah, so after Dar, the beastmaster guy, winged me into the flaming moat, I couldn’t get out so I was stuck there for like four years ‘til a car load of German guys stopped to take a leak, liked the cut of my jib and pulled me out by my cape. At least it was finally good for something. Y’know, a lot of people don’t know this, but I was the inspiration for the band's debut’s title, Possessed by Fire. Why? ‘Cos I was stuck in a flaming moat for four years, that’s why. Jeez, pay attention. Yeah, so I kinda became their mascot. Then they exorcised the fire outta me about eight months later by tossing my ass into this lagoon in the middle of nowhere. Still, it was nice of ‘em I guess, but Rising From the Sea everyday doesn’t have the same kick as being Possessed by Fire. There’s just something missing, and it’s not really hard to hear. In fact, it’s straight away noticeable with opener “Winds of Death” and carries over to the title track, like there’s been a cut back in aggression or a metered, almost automated-sounding version thereof. Or it’s something about the drumwork, something disconnective, or a combination of that with a lot of riffs lacking the same intensity that ripped things apart in the past. Or like sometimes the record’s only hitting 27rpm instead of 33. Or it could be all these things. No, I don’t have water in my ears. Well the guy transcribing this is pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down, so I’m not crazy. Hey, I heard that!

Usually I’d sidestroke toward the obvious first, which here is the unfortunate absence of bassist/raking snarler Mem Von Stein, whose departure ushers in Paul Arakari, another double duty frontman with a deeper and less sound-alike style befriended by fellow krauts Assassin, Deathrow and (part-time) Kreator. Funny enough, his more from-the-belly bellow finds some common ground with the semi-suffocated gusts of Ventor, Kreator’s other part-time lungblaster, then once in awhile we’re treated to some curling high hollers cool enough to sport Araya’s hairdo, but again, which vocalist is miffed at the mike isn’t the issue here.

Alright, they manage to recover some of their former power source with “Decimation” and “The First Supper”, but flip the side and “Unearthed” reburies them in the hole they’d just dug themselves outta, however toward the end and outta the blue they throw us for a halfway decent loop that spins like a serene Mercyful Fate mood-changer, like the first quasi-melancholy, softly-soloed minute of “Into the Coven” or the majority of “Melissa”, only less silky-smooth and practiced than the Danes. Gotta give it to ‘em for trying and for it being more on the fairly impressive side than not.

“Shadows of the Past” fights a better bout of metered aggression, then has its tables turned by “Are You Deaf?” as it flies off into sudden and mostly novelty manhandle-mode part-of-the-time, kinda like all-of-the-time “Bullets” from Assassin’s debut The Upcoming Terror. “I Dare You” is a bit ham-handed as the drumwork in particular pounds out a deadlier intent. Finale “Ascension Day” comes closest to bringing this disc’s two worlds together, here uncovering something in a feral beauty that at least five or six of its other songs coulda used.

I dunno, judging from its inconsistency and what seems like a back-step in confidence and all, it’s like Rising From the Sea shoulda been the debut working out the bugs. Can’t say it doesn’t have its moments that make it worth visiting, though. Well, that's about it. Guess I’ll see ya ‘round. Drive fast, take chances.

Oh hey, wait up!

While yer here, be a sport and help me find the bat wings that attach to my face mask. They keep falling off. I dunno, here in the drink somewhere. Yeah, I know I said hardly anyone comes here, but I just feel better with ‘em on, y’know? Besides, Halloween’s in a few days. Found a waterlogged box of old Reggie bars in a cave over…what? Whaddaya mean it just passed?! Piece a shit calendar, how do I keep forgetting it's from ’87?

“…no asshole! I told you my name is Fred…”