Being responsible for creating a genre is a pretty big burden. People expect a lot from you, and after all why should they not? However often these bands can equally be overshadowed by more contemporary bands or at least those whom harnessed the genre and made it what it is. This is something that I think is often quite sad and speaking of an instance of this I was at a festival a few years back in which the line up ran with Possessed followed by Obituary. After Possessed’s set the announcer walked back on stage asking if we were ready for ‘some true legends of Death Metal’ in the form of Obituary. Naturally there were a few groans from the crowd as he failed to acknowledge Possessed’s importance but none the less it goes to back up my point.
Alas, no more waffle today we talk about Possessed’s latest offering. Now if you’re not aware Possessed are a Death Thrash Metal band from San Francisco, California and are often hailed as one of, if not the first Death Metal band. For me this statement rings true, the extremity was like nothing before it and by the time 1985 came they unleashed the classic Seven Churches, arguably one of the greatest Metal releases of all time. The following year the band gave us Beyond The Gates which fell somewhat on deaf ears and although revered now, at the time was seen as a bit of a drop. So thus the band fell silent, reforming again in 1990-1993 and again in 2007 until the present day. Now the band take a bold step in 2019, 33 years after their sophomore release they give us Revelations Of Oblivion their third offering put out through Nuclear Blast, but can it hold up to the bands classic material?
The opening instrumental Chant Of Oblivion is a rather fitting beginning with its 80’s horror style theatrics it builds upon Possessed’s legacy and the hype for such a release. Then, adding to the horror theme comes No More Room In Hell which borrows its title and opening lyrics from the classic 1978 movie Dawn Of The Dead a sure fire hit for gore fiends everywhere and a nod that pays heed to Death Metal’s birth. The track and those that follow are every bit as carnage fuelled as expected, atypical Thrash guitars cause whirlwinds as the pummelling drums hit hard and meld with the classic and often replicated vocals of Jeff Becerra. One thing that really seems to pop in this release is the production, it is of a high quality but still gives a gritty Death Metal edge, this is essentially Possessed rehashing early ideals with better sound and personally I’m fine with that.
Equally this is where the album trails off, Dominion, Damned and Demon represent a trio of crushing tracks but all without little more than a classic Possessed sound. Sure there is the odd hook here and there but for the most part these tracks fade into obscurity. Abandoned sees a brief spike in memorability attempting to lure us back into the fold, but thereafter we fall back into the realms of filler material and lacklustre songs. This appears to be the pattern for the remainder of the album. To call this album bad would be extremely harsh, after all it is more than listenable and with a few replays is sure to be enjoyed. However being the longest Possessed album to date it offers up the question of quantity over quality. I can’t help but feel had it been condensed it would have made more of an impact.
So there we have it, yet another old classic band attempting to hark back to their glory days. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Possessed live a couple of times and have enjoyed it both times and have equally enjoyed their material time and time again. Yet this simply doesn’t hit me in the same way as Seven Churches and whilst I don’t expect it to I want it to. If you’re an existing Possessed fan it will surely tick the right boxes and there’s nothing you can really say that is overtly bad about it other than the fact that most of the songs just don’t stick. For an album following a prior release some 33 years ago however I have to commend Possessed for staying true to their roots and keeping their classic Death Metal sound alive.
(6/10 George Caley)