Back in 1983, when the Crüe were shouting at the devil, Jeff Becerra and company were enlisting the dark lord of damnation to create the fastest, heaviest, most evil band, Possessed. At the time, the NWOBHM had influenced the scene from across the pond and while still playing a large role in the formation of Heavy Metal at large, things had begun to get more intense. There were now different types of Metal. Spurred on in opposition to Aqua Net and eyeliner, California, in particular, gave rise to a new breed of Metal. While Metallica and Slayer pushed the envelope with Thrash Metal and Black Metal had been spearheaded by Venom, Becerra took inventory of the sound and vision he wished to portray. In a conscious decision, Death Metal was born. The self-titled anthem penned by Becerra would be the final song on the band’s legendary debut, Seven Churches. After another full-length and EP, Becerra was unfortunately shot in a robbery and paralyzed from the chest down. Revelations of Oblivion is the first Possessed album in over thirty years and with a reformed line-up, Becerra stands ready to take on the Metal world yet again with as much raw speed, aggression, and evil as possible.
Listening to old school Thrash and Death Metal tapes back in the day, one could often find oneself pining for slightly better production. Simply put, most underground bands did not have the budget for super-slick productions on par with their more Pop-oriented contemporaries. Seconds into the album’s first proper track, “No More Room in Hell,” one is greeted with the sound of Possessed with proper production. It is nothing short of a kick in the teeth. The riffs are easy to follow with each note properly articulated. In a song that largely comes across as atonal, the lead work manages to inject a hint of melody, a fine display of soloing chops. It is as if the band pulled all the stops for this song as there are an unbelievable amount of fills, changes, and embellishments. It is a blustering, exacting exercise in brutality.
What is apparent when listening to the album is the importance of tone. The drums have a natural sound, eschewing processed click-sounding antics. If they had to be compared to something, the sound of the drums is like two dozen Clydesdales marching in concert or rather stampeding, out of hell. The guitars are crisp, razor-sharp, full of gain, yet painstakingly precise. Seriously, out of the bands from that era, there aren’t manly with as huge or edgy a guitar tone as is present on this record.
A proper review would be painfully deficient if it failed to mention, “Demon,” the fifth track. The song is all things Death Metal. There is the derailed train feeling of excess speed met with tremendous bleeding riffs, lightning-fast and lacerating in execution. A monster half-time feel breakdown incorporates a large part of the song in stark contrast to the aforementioned speed. Of particular note is a dizzying bass solo, a flurry of low-end arpeggios.
The bottom line regarding this album is that it is simply jaw-dropping. It is almost as if Possessed never went away at all. In comparison to the current state of Heavy Metal and that of the mid-80s, the band is still just as dangerous. Further proof can be heard in tracks like seventh, “Shadowcult” and eleventh, “Graven,” an exercise blurring the lines between Death and Black Metal. Evidently, it was Possessed Manowar were referring to when proclaiming “all men play on ten”. It is a marvel how the band has managed to remain as edgy, relevant, and genre-defining. Becerra still commands the microphone like a twistedly venomous master of ceremonies as his gravelly voice narrates lyrics of demons, hell, and death. Were the so-called masters of metal to retain this much hunger and passion in their music, purposely not naming names, the landscape of the scene would be entirely different. Possessed has always been a band marching to its own beat. Though it took thirty years, the Metal world will be further enriched with this musical gut check, proof that age is only a number and true evil never dies. Classic!