REVIEW: POSSESSED – “Revelations Of Oblivion”
How do we measure greatness? In sports, for instance, titles, individual achievements and personal stats are factors to be considered when discussing it; but what about in music? Is it the number of albums sold? Is it the number of people who go to your concerts? Is it Longevity?
In the metal world, at least, I make a case that these things are way less important than features such as the impact on a specific scene, musical inspiration to other bands and – perhaps the most important of all – the ability to create a timeless, unanimous classic.
With that being said, I think it’s safe to say that Possessed is one of the greatest bands of all time because not only they managed to check all those aforementioned qualities, but were the godfathers of arguably the most popular genre of all: death metal. Rising from the ashes once again to release their third album, ‘Revelations of Oblivion’, which follows not one, but TWO of those timeless classics in ‘Seven Churches’ (1985) and ‘Beyond the Gates’ (1986), Jeff Becerra and company are on a mission to prove that 30+ years of silence (most of those because of Becerra’s brutal accident) doesn’t mean that Possessed is dead.
Truth be told, I was scared as hell to review this return, in part because hey, it’s been 30 years, but the first chords of “No More Room in Hell” – released as a single in mid-march – completely obliterated my skepticism. Fast, brutal and energetic, it’s the perfect track to show that Becerra hit the jackpot in terms of musicians surrounding him, and especially in terms of keeping his songwriting skills high after all these years.
Other tracks such as “Dominion” and “ Damned” feel organic and equally brutal, but these sound more like a mix between something coming out of ‘Beyond the Gates’ and glimpses of Morbid Angel and Slayer.
The duo “Demon” and “Abandoned”, in turn, are pure death metal. The cataclysmic atmosphere, the satanic lyrics and the sheer brutality make them two of the best songs in the album, all while having killer riffs and thunderous kitchen-work, proof – once again – that Emilio Marquez (drums, Asesino), Daniel Gonzalez (guitars, Create a Kill), Robert Cardenas (Masters of Metal, ex-Malice, ex-Agent Steel) and Claudeous Creamer (guitars, From Hell, ex-Dragonlord) were perfect choices for the worthy task of playing on such a legendary act.
The massacre continues with the evil “Shadowcult”, yet another diabolical piece of death/thrash aggression. This is a little less powerful and impactful than the songs so far, but nevertheless a good one. “Omen” revisits the ‘Seven Churches’ atmosphere in the background but combines it with modern thrashing riffs. Again, not as impressive as the tracks in the first half of the record, but holds the fort well enough.
Becerra’s voice sounds healthy and well-placed, as the lower key growls fit the band’s updated sound and actually helps make things sound more serious and demonical, which can be seen throughout the whole effort, and more prominently in songs like “Ritual” and “Graven”.
Even what may seem like the odd-duck here, “The Word” (mainly because it shifts pace quite abruptly before returning to be a juggernaut destroying everything), has enough fire to burn you to the ground. Closer “Temple of Samael” is the cherry on the cake, being stimulating and creepy at the same time, which will surely leave you wanting more.
At the end of the day, Possessed succeeded on following their own past greatness with competent, way above average music. ‘Revelations of Oblivion’ had every ingredient to be a disaster, but instead is one of the most interesting death/thrash releases of 2019 so far, and a true proclamation that Possessed is one of the greatest acts to ever emerge out of hell. Just don’t compare it with the two pieces of art that preceded it and you’ll be more than satisfied with this great comeback. Cheers to Becerra for turning things around in his life and continuing to do what he loves; it definitely paid off.