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The fraternisation of precision and brutality - 100%

Felix 1666, July 6th, 2016

My appreciated metal fellow is six (!) days older than I am. Moreover, he is born on the sixth (!!) of July, but I am sorry: I cannot offer a third six in this context. Thus, I am not able to say that we form a truly satanic unit. The same goes for Possessed, because in their case, flirting with an affinity for Satanism was nothing else but good promotion. However, this slightly unauthentic attitude, which became obvious to everyone in view of the further engagements of Larry LaLonde at the latest (bands like Primus should be banned), did not hurt the hellish force of "Seven Churches". Without batting an eyelid, the band combined precision with brutality and sharpness with dedication in a previously unknown manner. The result was that nobody really knew how to label their style. Bad luck for those collectors who sorted their records according to style.

There were different indications. The debut offered a track called "Death Metal", while the logo, the name of the album and song titles such as "Pentagram" or "Holy Hell" indicated that they played black metal. The music itself was, in my humble opinion, thrash metal, because the lacerating, piercing guitars seemed to originate from the neighbourhood of Exodus or Slayer. The RockHard Magazine took the view that Possessed played hardcore. These guys are really ready for a joke at any time. At the end of the day, the quest for the correct sub-genre appeared completely superfluous as soon as the first tones of "Seven Churches" filled the room. Admittedly, I still do not know why the band selected exactly "Tubular Bells" of Mike Oldfield for the intro. Maybe his first name tipped the scales, at least from the perspective of Mike Torrao and Mike Sus. It doesn't matter, because directly after the intro, the technically talented group unleashed its power in the most efficient manner. The incredibly exact guitars constituted the outstanding feature. Their whirring lines that showed up in songs like "The Exorcist" were unique and drew the listener into their spell.

Each and every tune appeared as a meticulously planned explosion, but this well thought-out strategy did not mean that the compositions of "Seven Churches" lacked of emotions. The anger, the desperation and the fury of giants such as "Fallen Angel" illustrated the enormous, absolutely fascinating grandeur of Possessed's songs. Especially the aforementioned track also impressed in view of its tremendously effective melody line which was accompanied by a bell. The highly accentuated beginning led more and more into sheer fury and thus the song turned out to be one of the highlights of this album - and of the entire year 1985 as well. And believe me, 1985 was a very wealthy year in terms of extreme metal.

While benefitting from the transparent, well-balanced and powerful production, the songs shined in full glory. Any form of rumbling parts did not occur, although a small number of sections, for example the verses of the title track, revealed a very dense, nearly impenetrable aura. Possessed loved to celebrate an almost clinical style, but they did it with uttermost brilliance. Yet one component of the band's sound must not go unmentioned in this context. Jeff Beccera's vocals delivered an adequate portion of inhumanity. He reached eight of ten points on the Paul Baloff scale of perfidy. In view of the clean mix, his expressive performance stood out as a sort of corrective. Beccera was not interested in providing any form of melodic approach, but this did not mean that his vocals were boring, because he articulated evilness, fury and vileness in an enthusiastic manner. Better still, the whole gang seemed to be imbued with an untameable joy of playing. Killer tracks like "Satan's Curse", "Burning in Hell" or the aforementioned "Fallen Angel" were just the tip of the iceberg. You will not identify a number which fails to develop its own unmistakable design. Naturally, very critical assholes and egocentric busybodies might be of the opinion that "Holy Hell" and "Twisted Minds" are standing in the shadow of the other tracks, because they show first indications of wear marks after roughly 100 listening sessions. Yet this is absolutely negligible (and the aforementioned groups of unpleasant contemporaries suck).

What is left to say? Despite the negative and annihilating messages of the lyrics, the complete debut seemed to be recorded with great ease. "Seven Churches" impressed with its excellent flow and it was always a great challenge to stop the listening session before the last tones of the glorious closer "Death Metal" had faded away. Don't get me wrong, nobody wanted to master this challenge. Thus, their debut catapulted Possessed at the top of the movement and their status was underlined by the fact that "Pentagram" was featured on the first part of the semi-legendary "Speed Kills" compilation. "The new gods - total thrash mayhem - INTENSE"; these were the words that were printed on the back of the album in order to describe Possessed's sound. By the way, the third part of this compilation series also contained a song of the guys ("Seance" from "Beyond the Gates"), but now the description sounded a little bit ambivalent: "the original toy boy thrash band". Anyway, as mentioned above, "Seven Churches" probably does not belong to the most authentic albums. Nevertheless, it is a fiery masterpiece for all eternity. Let's face the facts, my rating is rather too low than too high.