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Classic LP, indeed! - 85%

dismember_marcin, February 4th, 2013

Recently I’ve listened to many absolutely killer new death metal bands that try to resurrect the traditional, classic sound and style of this music, and many really did succeed in this, recording absolutely crushing demos and albums. But once in a while I just feel a strong need to go back to some cult and original releases of the forefathers of the genre… and why not do this today with Possessed’s classic release “Seven Churches”? Definitely this album is a great introduction to thrashing death metal for everyone who wants to check where the origins of this music are, because as much as Venom and Bathory have been creating what we think black metal is, Possessed did the same with death metal. All in all, “Seven Churches” does include the song titled “Death Metal” and this is also the title of their debut demo from 1984, right? This San Francisco-based outfit, formed back in 1983 by guitarist Mike Torrao and drummer Mike Sus who soon were joined by legendary guitarist/vocalist Jeff Becerra, are surely pioneers of death metal and they took something of what bands like Slayer and Dark Angel did into even more evil, dark, obscure, and aggressive territories.

Of course I doubt people who listened to “Seven Churches” back in 1985 or '87 were calling it death metal though…for them it was more aggressive thrash metal band and when I listen to “Seven Churches” nowadays I can understand why and to be honest if I was bothering to give it any tags, then it would probably just be a thrash/death metal, as clearly “Seven Churches” is not as raw, obscure, and brutal as the first pure death metal lp “Scream Bloody Gore” and music-wise Possessed was leaning into the technical thrash metal quite much. There’s a clear “Slayerism” noticeable in many parts of the album, but not just that, luckily, as I feel like Possessed had also quite much in common with their Teutonic rivals Kreator. When you’ll listen to the opening song “The Exorcist”, then you may get quite put off at first by its almost chaotic and messy character, especially if you listen to the drum parts, then the vocals, which are almost out of tune at few times…it is pure madness what happens in this track and clearly Possessed must have been possessed (haha) when composing it! After something like this, “Pentagram” may seem much easier to listen to, with a catchier main riff and with the overall more straight forward attitude. Ha, this is thrash/death metal in its perfection – eerie atmosphere, dark and satanic! “Burning in Hell” starts like good old Sodom, and I definitely don’t mind that as it is a real headbanger. I especially like that part that follows the guitar solos. It is just killer stuff. But then “Evil Warriors” comes in and I must consider this track as one of the weakest parts of “Seven Churches”. The riffing in it is quite boring to be honest, and its “Show No Mercy” influence is very audible here, but really “Evil Warriors” is not as classy. The title song is way better with a really awesome main riff and generally killer feeling, one which could even be close to not only Slayer, but also to “Kill ’em All”, only Possessed made it way more cruel and violent, plus it shreds with many chaotic, cacophonous guitar solos that are equally fast as they were a mad race on the scales.

Side B of the vinyl definitely is more killer for me as it included a couple of my favourite tracks from Possessed. The first one is the cult “Death Metal”, of course – and I cannot imagine a better culmination of such a great record. It is a real bombardment of thundering drums and razor-sharp riffs, plus very memorable choruses, etc. That main riff belongs to those riffs, which has its place in the metal history among the most perfect accords ever put together by a man and the beast (as obviously dark forces must have helped Possessed creating something like this). “Death Metal” is an absolutely amazing song and I do consider it to be one of my favourite tracks from the '80s along with… eeeehhh, no, too many to mention, hehe. But if you don’t know this song, then you must learn your metal history, man! “Satan’s Curse” is so wonderfully fast and so relentless that it just makes me bang my head all the time through and I can hardly stop doing so - really good song indeed. And finally another highly-esteemed song is “Fallen Angel”. Just listen to the opening theme of it, that slow and epic riff and bells that accompany it – what a great result and something that will stick with you for ages. Afterwards this song turns into quite fast and merciless motherfucker, quite chaotic for few moments again, but this is just pure death/thrashing metal slaughter. I’m afraid, though, that again a couple of tracks from side B may seem nowadays to be more filler than something that can stand on the same level of excitement and thrashing death extravaganza as those that I just mentioned. I mean, a song like “Twisted Minds” is just hmm… dull? I’m not saying it is terribly bad or whatever, and I like few parts from it, mainly this riff that accompanies the guitar solos and overall it basically is a classic thrash metal song, but is just not as utterly aggressive and memorable as one would expect from an album that supposedly opened the gates of hell for a new genre called death metal.

Standout tracks: “Death Metal”, “Fallen Angel”, “Pentagram”, “Satan’s Curse”.