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Regression - 59%

Felix 1666, June 25th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1985, 12" vinyl, Neat Records

"Possessed" remains a mystery to me until today. I worshipped Venom due to their two previous albums and fascinating singles like "Manitou" or "Warhead". And the omens were good that "Possessed" would be the next great step. The alienated image of two children marked an unusual artwork and seemed to lay the foundation for another diabolic seduction. The distorted letters of the album title could have been interpreted as an indication of the expected earthshaking sound while the title itself perfectly payed tribute to their (more or less) devilish image. With regard to these facts, my anticipation was growing.

But I was wrong. The sound was the first disappointment. It had nothing to counter the malevolant belligerence of its predecessor and it was for sure not overproduced. On the contrary, one could think that the record seller had mistakenly put a low budget output into the inner sleeve. But the boozy and dissonant voice of Cronos left no room for doubts. It was definitely Venom who offered this dull and inoffensive sound which was characterized by tinny guitars. This circumstance alone resulted in a deterioration in comparison with "At War with Satan". Maybe "Possessed" was meant to sound unpure like their first albums, but this plan failed. However, the production certainly would not had been a profound problem, if the band would have written new soon-to-be-classics. Disillusioned, we had to discover that this was not the case.

While their previous tracks came straight to the point, except the epic "At War with Satan", of course, the band seemed to seek a new direction. Some parts were seemingly intended to be more melodious or even trance-like, but with a singer like Cronos this was just a useless exercise. Venom were therefore not able to consistently create an unholy atmosphere. Take, for example, the beginning of "Mystique". It delivered a strained weird aura, but the weirdness collapsed as soon as Cronos raised his voice. Apart from that, Venom offered songs with miserable choruses ("Moonshine", "Too Loud") and mediocre pieces that had a few good moments due to rarely succeeded breaks ("Burn this Place", the instrumental "Wing and a Prayer"). The majority of the songs was pretty decent without any link to outstanding music. Only "Flytrap" was overwhelmingly convincing because of its dark melody and the double bass driven chorus. Nevertheless, you could not compare it with their real classics, such as "Countess Bathory" or "Lady Lust". Its lyrics were about the goddess Venus and she was not the only strange female being that occured in the texts. They were full of wild virgins, dying whores and little schoolgirls. Unfortunately, the merciless countess and the cruel lady did not reappear... It should be stated clearly, these crude lyrics were just nonsense.

In winding up, Venom had lost their way and did not play black metal any more. This album delivered a punk-influenced mixture of thrash and power metal. In retrospect, "Possessed" constituted the first explicit indication of VenomĀ“s preliminary low point that became evident with the release of the following full-length, the very excellent "Calm Before the Storm" (just kidding).

not in the least bit disappointing - 87%

stonetotem, July 19th, 2009

It goes without saying that Venom were an incredibly influential band in the development of extreme metal, playing a form of grimy Motorhead-influenced rock n rollish heavy metal crossing over into harsh and gritty thrash/speed metal styles (way ahead of their time) and laying down the groundwork for what would become black metal (even further ahead of their time). Their first three albums are widely regarded as classics and masterpieces, constituting their "holy trinity". "Welcome to Hell" was the grittiest, sleaziest and filthiest by far, while "Black Metal" refined the sound a bit and focused more on Satanic themes, and finally "At War with Satan" was their most epic , conceptual and concise effort. After permanently forging their name in metal history, Venom devolved their style a bit for 1985's "Possessed", retreading the old grimy sound of their first two albums rather than continuing the progression seen on AWWS. For many this album is seen as mediocre and perhaps even a disappointment, but for those who couldn't get enough of Welcome to Hell/Black Metal it's just what the doctor ordered: catchy, heavy, evil and sleazy songs played by none other than metal legends Venom.

Unlike the sharper, cleaned up sound of At War with Satan, this album brings the production right back down to an uncompromising gritty tone. The mixing and production job is actually even more amateur than on their first two efforts in some regards, showing that these guys really wanted to lay on the filth here. The guitar has a fairy sharp tone with heaps of fuzzy trebly distortion. The riffs as usual alternate between Motorhead-ish rock n rollers, head smashing thrash/speeders and some traditional heavy metal chugging and slightly refined more complex and melodic leads (in contrast to their usual ripping noise solos). Mantas is flyin' solo here, so while leads are going on only the bass is plunking behind them rather than a rhythm guitar holding up the backbone. The drums gallop along to the rockin rhythms and pound in the thrashier sections, doing their job adequately but not outstandingly. The recording on the drums is nice and dull and adds a lot to the primitiveness of the sound. Cronos, the frontman of the group and bassist/singer brings perhaps the most to the table. The guitar and bass are held roughly equally in the mix, so the bass lines are always easily distinguishable. In the faster, thrashier parts he's usually just chugging along, but also bringing in his signature chaotic sliding all over the fretboard. In the more rock n roll style riffs and slow/heavy sections this technique adds all kinds of sleaze to the riffs. The bass fills out the rhythm section perfectly, adding a huge, disgusting, filthy presence to the sound. But that's not all for Cronos, as his vocals are equally integral to Venom's sound, and his lyrics are most excellent. His vocal style is a dirty Lemmy-like grunt or yell (these guys obviously loved Motorhead) and when added to thrash/speed/proto-black metal sound seen here it creates the ultimate in early filth. His delivery is often sinister and satirical sounding, showing that the band were at times tongue-in-cheek. His lyrics and songwriting ability are second to none, creating some incredibly catchy choruses and purveying the image of hell-obsessed drug addled maniacal sex fiends (before black metal groups wore corpsepaint and lit candles they did drugs). Also, "Possessed" doesn't completely ignore the epic tendencies of "At War with Satan", as can be seen in the more technical and complex tracks "Wing and a Prayer" and Mystique".

While "Possessed" doesn't quite pack the punch of its predecessors, it's well worth investigating and is certainly an important piece of Venom's legacy, being the last great or even listenable album they ever made. The influence Venom's early output had on the development of metal is astounding, perhaps singlehandedly setting in motion all the primitive thrash and speed metal (such as Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Teutonic thrashers like Sodom and Destruction, and South American maniacs like Sarcofago) that would inspire the explosion of black and death metal in the late 80s and early 90s. All of Venom's material up to 1985 was untouchable, undeniably influential, classic and truly outstanding. Any fan of gritty extreme metal should be in love with Venom already, so this should be recommended to those who have only heard their earlier material. If you haven't yet heard these guys at all, well I just don't know about you... get this album immediately, or at the very least blast "Welcome to Hell" at high volumes while smashing your skull on a concrete wall and smoking PCP or snorting speed. Aaaarrgghhh!!!

When Venom missed their mark - 68%

cronosmantas, April 9th, 2005

Many people think Calm Before the Storm is where Venom screwed up. Actually where Venom tripped up is two years before with the 1985 release of Possessed, the bands fourth album.

Everybody knows Venoms legendary first two albums Welcome To Hell and Black Metal. Though Primative sounding with limited production, there were excellent early thrash/black metal records. The band would make a step forward with the release of At War With Satan. That album featured better production and the band even toyed with progressive song writing. It was a little different than their previous two albums but none-the-less, it was the step in the right direction.

Then came Possessed....

After showing a promising future with At War With Satan, the band missed their mark with their next release. Possessed emerged as de-evolution of the band and was a marginal step down from AWWS. The production was again ruduced to poor methods with Cronos's vocals taking the blunt of it. The songs themselves seemed to suffer and they just lacked punch. Part of the blame could be the internal struggles the band was going through at the time. Guitarst Jeff "Mantas" Dunn has even described his disappointment with the album in interviews. He was so upset with the album at the time that actually departed from Venom to pursue a solo career.

Possessed also wasn't well recieved by fans and the bands Venom inspired were passing them on by. Slayer, Metallica, and Megadeth were all releasing excellent ablums at the time such as Hell Awaits, Ride the Lightning, and Killing Is My Business, all of which are miles ahead of Possessed.

I think this was a pivital time for Venom. If they were able to release a killer album, they might have became as big as the above mentioned bands. With the lackluster release of Possessed, its no wonder they faded into oblivion in the late 80's...

Even with all the negatives surrounding the album, its still will be among interest to metal fans as it really was the last album of the classic era of Venom and the last album to feature the original line-up until the 1996 reunion album Cast in Stone.

Not bad - 79%

Estigia666, May 29th, 2003

Yes, there's life for Venom outside the trilogy that made them so famous. That reminds me, i must get some of their new shit *check*. Just because this album doesn't have all of the demented savagery of "Welcome to Hell", it doesn't mean the band turned into total pussies. This one has it's fair share of holocaust and death to please the masses!

The album begins with the speed metal "Powerdrive". I like headbanging all the way through this, hell, that's why this song was made for. It's rooted right in the tradition of "Sons of Satan", although less wild, more "controlled", but it kills anyway. Keep the headbanging, and your life will be spared. "Flytrap" is another great speed metal song, a bit more calmed than the previous (relatively speaking, that is. This song would still make most rock metal acts from the 80s shit in their pants). The solo is kind of funny, too, just listen to it. "Satanachist" isn't as remarkable, but it's fast, it kills and, obviously, it works. Same with "Burn this Place (To the Ground)", although this one is faster. It still slaughters you, but it lacks the more competent songwriting of the first two, although is not a complete waste of time.

Things begin to take off again with that infectious riff at the beginning of "Harmony Dies". Another cool song, with a nice, catchy work in the verses and a smoking solo *plays some air guitar*. The title track is a midpaced song that relies more on Cronos' singing than the actual riffs. The verses slowly build the intensity that reaches it's peak right before the chorus. "I'm Possessed by the *whatever*" *headbangs some more*. The rest of the song is kind of generic to be honest. "Moonshine" is a song in the tradition of "Angel Dust" with some generic, but nice riffs and rhythms. Another GREAT solo by Mantas *plays some more air guitar* *the string breaks* *bummer*. It goes better near the end. "Wing and a Prayer" is a faster instrumental (well composed, i might say) that gives another dose of headbanging frenzy. "Suffer not the Children" is typical for the album, sounding similar to "Flytrap". What the fuck is up with the title of the song? Goddamn kids, always getting credit for doing nothing at all with their pitiful lives. The next two following have their moments, but i'll leave it here. I'm afraid to add that some of the worse parts out of these step into "geigh" territory, so...

Are you a Venom fan? Really? Get this. What, you're not a Venom fan? Go fuck yourself, then.