It’s been over three decades since the Joe Satriani-produced The Eyes Of Horror EP capped off a four-year run in which Californian metallers Possessed helped define the death metal genre, but the band’s third full-length is finally here, with only vocalist Jeff Becerra remaining from the old-school lineup. It’s been a long wait, even since it was announced that the band were working on new material back in 2012, but Revelations Of Oblivion is packed with face-ripping tracks straight out of the top drawer.
This being Possessed, it’s apt to see that the album refrains from delving fully into death metal savagery. The band bridged the gap between old-school metal, thrash and death in the ‘80s, and do the same here, albeit with a style that’s less guttural and hellish than you may first expect. Sure, at their core, the tracks that Becerra, drummer Emilio Marquez and bassist Robert Cardenas (both of Coffin Texts) as well as guitarists Daniel Gonzalez (of Gruesome) and Claudeous Creamer (of From Hell) have crafted are full of the primal spirit of early death metal, making good use of the speedy drumming, tremolo-picked guitars and gruff vocals that helped forge the genre, but they’re also thrashy, racing forward like the band’s Bay Area brethren in Testament or Exodus. Furthermore, whilst the theatrics of NWOBHM may not be entirely present, the ‘Priest and ‘Maiden blueprints are undoubtedly a part of Possessed’s DNA, most notably present on tracks like ‘Omen’, ‘The Word’ and ‘Ritual’.
On Revelations Of Oblivion, the band take pre-Possessed metal and splice it together with death, almost laying bare for listeners just how the subgenre came into being, with the thrashy verses of opener ‘Chant Of Oblivion’ and ‘Damned’ soon giving way to the malicious bludgeoning synonymous with the death metal genre. Becerra’s voice bridges these gaps perfectly, with him switching up his style as he sees fit – at time he grunts like Lemmy whilst at others he roars as best he can.
Also boasting stellar production courtesy of Peter Tägtgren, Revelations… is remarkably impressive, not just as a comeback album, but as an album in its own right. It zests with a modern touch despite coming from a name now 36 years old, and yet revels in a decidedly old-school approach that’s familiar but effective. Whilst many of the genre’s older names continue to pump out mediocre albums as if stuck on autopilot, Possessed have resurfaced to show that they’re considered pioneers for a reason.
Revelations Of Oblivion is out now on Nuclear Blast. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr