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Let's Tie It All Together - 90%

SweetLeaf95, April 10th, 2015

What we've got here is....failure to communicate to each other which genre this is, so you'll get what we had here last week... a bunch of thrash and black metal breaking out. No, but in all seriousness, this record is like combining early thrash and black metal elements to give us an output close to what we know as death metal. After all, those are the main ingredients to the start of death metal, in my eyes, as many view Seven Churches as the first death metal record, even though the sound was not complete. Possessed certainly gave a good start with this. It's basically a combination of four earlier records that come to mind: Venom's Black Metal, Slayer's Show No Mercy, Celtic Frost's Morbid Tales, and Kreator's Endless Pain. So it took one band to put all of these chemicals together and get what we know as one of the pioneers of death metal.

So, first off, we are given a big combination of different riffing styles here. Some of them aren't as speedy, rather dark, heavy, and thick sounding, such as the mighty "Pentagram". No, it certainly isn't slow by any means, but listen to the main riff in that song. It is not fast at all compared to some of the other tracks on here. It's played at a very moderate speed, with rather simple power chords for a lot of it. Here we can certainly hear more of an early black metal approach, especially because of the content of a lot of these songs, I mean holy hell man! (pun definitely intended). On the flip side, however, we get some more thrashy speed driven songs, such as "Evil Warriors", as it starts off right off the bat with a shredding solo and intense aggression in the riffage that follows this up. It's a crushing kind of speed you could find right out of a Slayer album given a dark and evil tone that Celtic Frost would use, and together this gives us a dark and crushing guitar piece that just sounded so significant at the time, taking heavy guitars to a whole new level. But there is no denying where this came from. Even listen to the bridge that connects the solo and verse about two thirds of the way through "Fallen Angel". Look me in the eye and tell me that isn't a spitting image of the intro to Slayer's "Black Magic". Nothing is significant about the solos, other than the fact that they are great, but they don't stand out in any way from anything else that was released around the time. So good work there, I just prefer the riffage on here over them.

Jeff Becerra's vocals are definitely something new as well, as we are given crushing aggression and anger in his delivery, much like Mille Petrozza from really early Kreator. He gives off such an angry vibe, and sounds like he's about to devour the next person to cross his path. It's not far off from stereotypical thrash vocals at the time, but he really stresses that growl element that was not used too much before this release, as a lot of extreme metal at the time used high pitched screams and shouted vocals. However Kreator would certainly be the closest match, as both records were released in the same month of the same year. So I can't really say that they were influenced by this band directly, but it still sounds super close in sound and style. What we get on Seven Churches is just a bit more intensified. Honestly, it is sometimes what I would picture a demon to sound like (or what about that demon growl in the opening to "Pentagram"?) These harsher vocal outputs and intensified guitar shrieks make for a new sound, and I absolutely love all of it. I think it was purely experimentation at its best, and although it may not be completely death metal, it doesn't distinguish the fact that it is great metal from the time, and would allow future bands to expand upon this sound.

Along with this, I love a lot of the effects that are done here. First off, the bell at the beginning of "Fallen Angel" to make it sound even more evil, as if I'm standing outside in a graveyard full of demons, as well as the demon growl I mentioned earlier. But what I really love is the keyboard at the beginning taken right from The Exorcist film was an ingenious idea and made for a very creepy intro to such a dark album. Plus, that transition going from that to the malicious riff that it dives right into is quite mind blowing, and one of the greatest starts to an album ever. Although that first track is very messy (as well as some others on here), I still very much like it. It gives it the darker atmosphere, with rather poor production helps with that blackened atmosphere, much like something that Venom would do, and that effect certainly worked in their favor.

Drum work on here, much like the solo work, isn't anything new. Blast beats were toyed with before, but in this case, it's like that old saying "if the shoe fits, wear it". These worked very well with the sound that we were given from these new experiments. Especially that beautiful intro to the beginning of the closing track "Death Metal". It basically topped everything off. So tying this all together, it's a lot of mixtures from black metal and thrash metal, and making both elements more harsh. With such a combo, we get rather messy song structure, but there's nothing wrong with that in my eyes. It was a great start to a genre that would be loved by many, and expanded upon in years to come.