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Review

Possessed – Seven Churches 35th Anniversary Review

Band: Possessed
Album: Seven Churches
Label: Combat Records
Genre: Thrash Metal, Death Metal
Country: U.S.
Release Date: October 16, 1985

The 1980’s Bay Area Thrash scene is well known as one of the most important and influential periods in metal’s storied history. It was a scene where bands, who would have previously been content in the underground, were beginning to receive worldwide notoriety as a result of a blend of musical extremity combined with accessible songwriting. During this time period it seemed as if a classic album was being released every other month and many of the albums that came out of this scene are still cited as some of the best the genre had ever seen. Where it seemed that most bands and labels were trying to release albums to rival the popularity Metallica, there was a subset of the Bay Area bands , usually with distribution by Combat Records, that seemed to fight against the commercialization of thrash metal by creating the most extreme and antisocial thrash metal around. While most of these more extreme bands came from outside the U.S., such as Destruction, Kreator, Sodom and Coroner, there was one band in the Bay Area that took the extremity to an even greater level. That band was the legendary Possessed, with harsh vocals,speedy, down-tuned riffs, and satanic imagery, the band’s debut Seven Churches, laid the groundwork for one of extreme metal’s most important subgenres, even coining the name, Death Metal. 

Released on October 16th, 1985, Seven Churches introduced the world to Possessed and was truly an album unlike anything that had ever been released. Despite being lumped in with the thrash bands of the day, Possessed set out to do something that was more controversial and pushed boundaries further than any thrash album had done before. With their debut album Jeff Beccerra, Larry Lalonde and company sought to introduce the world to their new brand of metal. While definitely closer to the thrash sound than most of the death metal acts that have come in the wake of Seven Churches, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would say that this album wasn’t the pioneer of the genre. From the onset of the album and the use of the theme from the horror classic The Exorcist, it was instantly apparent that this wasn’t going to be your typical Bay Area Thrash album. The opening riff of the first song The Exorcist (one of the best metal riffs ever written, in my opinion), punches the listener in the face with blistering speed and aggression that does not let up throughout the entirety of the album. The riff work, combined with Becerra’s unique approach to the vocals, pummeling drums and the usage of horror movie samples truly form the framework of an album that is as menacing and fear inducing as it is technically proficient.

Creating something new, however, is not enough to make an album that is truly classic and iconic,. The album has to be good and man is this album fucking great. With iconic songs like Pentagram, Burning in Hell, and the genre naming Death Metal, Seven Churches is undeniably a classic. Even outside of the bigger hit songs, if you can call them that, the album is absolutely incredible. From the intro sample to the closing track, there is not a single track on this album that you can skip. It comes in at a brisk 40 minutes and, at least when I first started listening to the album, is an album that you can easily listen to on repeat all day. Its may be strange to say for album this dark, but Seven Churches is a fucking blast to listen too. There is truly never a dull moment.

Here we are celebrating the album’s 35th anniversary and the impact that Seven Churches has on the metal scene as a whole is just as strong today as it has ever been, perhaps even stronger. I was fortunate enough to see Possessed Decibel’s Metal and Beer Fest last year and everyone, from the fans to members of the other bands who were watching, went absolutely crazy when Possessed hit the stage and, despite putting out one of the best albums of last year and one of the best comeback albums of all time, the songs off of Seven Churches were still the ones that people were the most excited to hear. Yeah, the album sounds a bit dated but most of the best albums do. The album is older than I am and was one of the few albums that introduced me to extreme metal. I loved it the first time and have not stopped listening to it since.

Tracklist:

  1. The Exorcist
  2. Pentagram
  3. Burning in Hell
  4. Evil Warriors
  5. Seven Churches
  6. Satan’s Curse
  7. Holy Hell
  8. Twisted Minds
  9. Fallen Angel
  10. Death Metal

Click here to visit Possessed’s Website

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