PossessedIf you had not encountered anything in the way of death metal since the headliners had released their two classic albums you would have wondered just what had happened in the last 3 decades for it to evolve into what we were being battered senseless with courtesy of opener Unfathomable Ruination. Containing members from the likes of Cerebral Bore, Fleshrot and Prostitute Disfigurement this was never going to be pretty! With drum kit pushed right forward they seem particularly in the face as the get their slam on with rumbling bass, churning guitars and chundering vocals. Song titles like ‘Suspended In Entropic Dissipation’ probably make sense to any medical deviants in the audience and as the vocals are grunted and gurgled out by the band’s new vocalist Ben Wright a few are happy to wreck away on the dance-floor no doubt feeling guilty that he had just described earlier efforts as resembling a jazz club! Despite the unrelenting fury of the musicians the technicality of the windmilling riffs as they squall and squeal is duly noted. There’s a certain amount of grind amidst ‘Pantheonic Synchroscheme,’ rugged chops and elongated vocal bellows much to the delight of the fans of the band. The rest of us looked on, suitably warmed up after this punishing half hour assault.

Death was being unleashed in various colours and they were all red as far as Grave Miasma are concerned. Skulls and incense sticks are carried out as the band prepare for what many would refer to as a ritual more than a mere gig and we prepared to be plummeted into occult, stygian depths. Lighting was all profondo rosso and looming through the fug on stage we could just about make out the band had splattered themselves in blood as they crank up their weapons and charge head on into the abyss. Suitably hefty and cavernous the sound is pretty immense and so is the atmosphere. Many old fans of Possessed have possibly not seen the likes of this before and as the guttural, reverb vocals roar out on ‘Ovation to a Thousand Lost Reveries’ it is like being transported into a damp dark cave. When not flailing away and claiming souls they slow down spreading tentacle etched unease that creeps into every nook and cranny offering no escape, before plummeting back down into the void again. Taking us back to earlier material ‘The Tomb Is My Altar’ has me grabbing a much needed pint and witnessing the just as lethal sound from the back of the now practically rammed venue. It sounds windswept and destructive as slime literally drips, coating the walls and infecting in its death like grip. As always the band do a great job in mixing atmosphere and downright brutality in a way that totally befits their name. It’s a well deserved lengthy set, some of it spent in a near trance, focussing on the immense drumming. As old Goat Molestör track ‘Glorification Of The Impure’ attacks with vocals like gibbering demons it feels like an exorcism is needed which leads on very nicely to the main event!

You could probably be forgiven for forgetting about and not hearing Possessed for quite some time. It was 1985-6 when their two highly regarded albums ‘Seven Churches’ and ‘Beyond The Gates’ came out. There have been break ups and reformations and founding member Jeff Becerra was shot in 1990 and has been in a wheelchair since then. This has not stopped him growling though and it is evident from the rammed venue that many have not forgotten the legacy of the band and tension is palpable as they prepare to take the stage. I was not sure how long since the band last played here, there is mention from some about an Electric Ballroom gig aeons ago and it sounded like Jeff tells us it has been 27 years since they were last here so no wonder the place is at fever pitch before hardly a note is struck. We are taken ‘Beyond The Gates’ and the place literally goes nuts. There are many clustered on the side of the stage, hair is twirling everywhere and it takes no time for the first person to go over the barrier. It’s virtually anarchic in here and Jeff looks like he is loving every minute of it as he growls away whilst the rest of the band dig in and play furiously. Time is kept in fashion as they have none other than Nick Barker behind the kit, bass is thick, guitars sharp and the sound fantastic. Songs like EP number ‘The Eyes Of Horror’ are short sharp and furious mixing gnarly death with full on thrashing madness. Lead guitar work spirals away and literally scorch from front to back of venue.

Thankfully air conditioning is just about doing the job and breathing space is found as they go into the second intro and unleash The Heretic. It’s like an atmospheric horror film something along the lines of Phantasm (let’s not mention Exorcist 2) which suddenly explodes into life and charges away. Naturally the pit is close to feral and the old school music gives the place a charge reminiscent to shows back in the day. Security are certainly kept on their toes but are perhaps more friendly than they were in the darker days. My notes appear to have the words ‘that fucking raged’ scrawled on them and I doubt anyone is disagreeing. ‘My Belief’ slows it down a little getting into a groove just as leaden and deadly till it explodes in a blur. ‘Storm In My Mind’ is a song about drugs, spiralling guitars mess with heads then the very fast stuff kicks in oof. Apparently ‘The Crimson Spike’ is a new song from a forthcoming album, well on the strength of it this is going to be something worth waiting for and speaking of which it is the familiar sound of tubular bells that many have been anticipating next, pushing everyone already not there completely over the edge and turning more than a few heads 180 degrees! My notes pretty much end here, the band are not quite done and play right up till the curfew delivering ‘Death Metal’ as an ultimate finale. This was one of those shows that if you missed you really should be kicking yourself. Possessed although I had never seen them before to compare, seemed to be on top form and really delivered the goods and pretty much every legendary song anyone could have wanted. A triumphant show all round!

(Review and photos © Pete Woods)