If I was to ask you to name classic metal albums off the top of your head, you’d likely come up with any number of choices. You could come up with tons of different options, ranging from great works from Maiden or Priest or Mercyful Fate or Death or Morbid Angel or whatever. We could be here all day, and what they’d all have in common is they were steppingstones for the genre and those bands.
One record that definitely belongs in that category is the 1985 barnstormer that is “Seven Churches” by Possessed. Not only is that record a foundational brick for death metal as a genre, but it has influenced thousands and thousands of other people to follow in its steps. But what makes it different from other classics is it never really got to live its full life, nor did Possessed. OK, sure, “Beyond the Gates” followed in 1986, and it’s actually a fine album, but “Seven Churches” and the band’s chance to shine faded when frontman/bassist Jeff Becerra was paralyzed from the chest down after being shot in a robbery shortly after “The Eyes of Horror” EP was released in 1987, and the band never really got a chance to capitalize on what they started. Yet Becerra, despite his physical limitations, long period of addiction, and battles with death, refused to let go. He restarted the band in 2007, and over the years, he’s put together a new version of the group that fucking kills. And now they’re back with “Revelations of Oblivion,” their first record in 33 longs years, and holy shit is it a good one. Just having any Possessed record would be a triumph, but the fact this 12-cut, nearly 54-minute album rules as hard as it does is just a gift from below. Becerra surrounded himself with great talent—guitarists Daniel Gonzalez and Claudeous Creamer, bassist Robert Cardenas, drummer Emilio Marquez—and he sounds in tremendous voice and charisma as he brings more evil and hell to a metal scene that severely lacks what he has.
“Chant of Oblivion” starts the record with bells, weird chants, and the feeling of a horror score, not unlike the opening moments from “The Exorcist” on “Seven Churches.” Then “No More Room in Hell” steamrolls into the room, with thrashy hell and Becerra raspily waling about “when churches burn to dust, and the demons rise again.” Becerra’s voice is a little clearer but still savage, especially when he vows, “I’ll bring you pain, fire, and hell,” as guitars go off and deliver destruction. “Dominion” is a damn good one, too, as the song charges and Becerra threatens, “Pray to your god above, bow to your sin down below.” The track is thrashing and crushing, with the vocals buzzing and everything crashing down around you. “Damned” smashes through the gates, with Becerra sounding like an evil Lemmy at times, the guitar work spidering all over, and devastation being spread like dust. “Demon” starts with a killer riff, and from there, the track delves into filth, the tempo blows up, and even some groove is achieved. The chorus decimates your mind while a violent burst arrives, the bass playing bloodies the waters, and a weird sci-fi-style solo chills blood. “Abandoned” ignites with a furious pace as Becerra howls, “Satan’s legions rising up from the pit of hell.” The track blasts hard, and it all ends with Becerra frantically yelling, “Abandoned!”
“Shadowcult” is another standout track that opens with weird voices circling before the crunch lands hard, riffs entangle, and the song gets tricky and devious. The chorus is simple but memorable, and rock-solid soloing ties up the back end before trudging home. “Omen” is pretty different from the rest, starting with eerie gothic keys before things pick up and stampede. The vocals are gravelly as Becerra calls upon the old gods and brings more visions of hell. The guitar work feels like classic metal, which is a nice touch, and there are moments where this is even catchy and not just bloodthirsty. Becerra’s repeating cries of “Omen!” over and over at the end just compounds the psychological terrors. “Ritual” gets off to a fast start as blasts destroy, the guitars chew up the scene, and Becerra howls, “We are damned, it is our fate,” amid the scene of Lucifer rising to claim souls. “The Word” has guitars rampaging, the pace galloping, and grimy vocals leading the way, leaving behind trails of blood as the song ends in power metal-style glory. “Graven” has insects buzzing as if feeding on a corpse, and Becerra’s words are spat out as he howls about, “666 on the head and the wrist.” The track is a forest fire of madness that only subsides once its host is devoured. “Temple of Samael” is a quick outro piece with strange noises, clean guitars, and the sense that your damnation is pretty much assured.
Possessed finally are getting to tell their next chapter with “Revelations of Oblivion,” an album that’s on par with “Surgical Steel” as a comeback record that doesn’t just measure up, it destroys the senses. The fact Becerra has survived all he’s been through and refused to return until he had a record worthy of the Possessed name is a testament to his strength and courage. This is a triumph on every level, one of the better metal records you’re bound to hear this year, no matter the genre.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/possessedofficial/
To buy the album, go here: https://media.nuclearblast.de/shoplanding/2019/Possessed/revelations.html
For more on the label, go here: https://www.nuclearblast.com/en/label/