Possessed performing live in 2017.
|Origin||San Francisco Bay Area, California|
|Genres||Death metal, thrash metal|
|Years active||1983–1987, 1990–1993, 2007–present|
|Labels||Combat, Relativity, Under One Flag, Agonia, Roadrunner, Nuclear Blast|
|Past members||See: former members|
Possessed is an American death metal band, originally formed in 1983. Noted for their fast style of playing and Jeff Becerra's growled vocals, they are often called the first band in the death metal genre.The band is also notable for featuring Larry LaLonde, who was the guitarist of Possessed during the mid-1980s, and went on to join Primus.
Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. It typically employs heavily distorted and low-tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, aggressive, powerful drumming featuring double kick and blast beat techniques, minor keys or atonality, abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes, and chromatic chord progressions. The lyrical themes of death metal may invoke slasher film-stylized violence, religion, occultism, Lovecraftian horror, nature, mysticism, mythology, philosophy, science fiction, and politics, and they may describe extreme acts, including mutilation, dissection, torture, rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia.
A death growl is a vocal style usually employed by death metal singers but also used in other heavy metal styles, such as metalcore. Death growls are sometimes criticized for their "ugliness". However, the harshness of death growls is in keeping with death metal's abrasive music style and often dark and obscene subject matter. The progressively more forceful enunciation of metal vocals has been noted from heavy metal to thrash metal to death metal.
Reid Laurence "Larry" LaLonde, also known as Ler LaLonde, is an American musician best known as the guitarist for Primus, a position that he has served since 1989, where he is known for his experimental accompaniment to the bass playing of bandmate Les Claypool. Previously, he played guitar for the groups Possessed, Blind Illusion, No Forcefield, and the Frank Zappa tribute band "Caca". He also has collaborated more recently with artists such as Serj Tankian and Tom Waits.
After breaking up in 1987, and briefly reforming from 1990 to 1993, the band reformed under original bassist and vocalist Jeff Becerra in 2007. To date, the band has released three studio albums, one live album, two compilation albums and two EPs.
The band originated in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1983, when San Pablo and El Sobrante residents Mike Torrao (guitar) and Mike Sus (drums) started a garage band with vocalist Barry Fisk and bassist Jeff Andrews under the name Possessed. While the quartet had written some music together, the line-up would be cut short when Fisk committed suicide by gunshot in front of his girlfriend's house in Tara Hills, San Pablo, CA, and Andrews subsequently opted not to participate in the group any longer.
The San Francisco Bay Area is a populous region surrounding the San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bay estuaries in the northern part of the U.S. state of California. Although the exact boundaries of the region vary depending on the source, the Bay Area is defined by the Association of Bay Area Governments to include the nine counties that border the aforementioned estuaries: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and San Francisco. Other sources may exclude parts of or even entire counties, or expand the definition to include neighboring counties that don't border the bay such as San Benito, San Joaquin, and Santa Cruz.
San Pablo is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. The city of Richmond surrounds nearly the whole city. The population was 29,139 at the 2010 census. The current Mayor is Rich Kinney. Currently, the City Council consists of Elizabeth Pabon-Alvarado, Rita Xavier and Abel Pineda.
El Sobrante is a census-designated place (CDP) in Contra Costa County, California, United States. The population was 12,669 at the 2010 census.
At about the same time, a band called Blizzard had formed in the neighboring city of Pinole. This band had Jeff Becerra on vocals, Larry LaLonde and Danny Boland on guitars and Michael Miner on drums, all of whom were high school students in the same graduating class. Blizzard was influenced by the early work of Metallica and Exodus, both of whom were gaining a stronghold in the local heavy metal scene and amassing a following abroad. Becerra would leave Blizzard and replace Possessed's Andrews (who had played on Exodus' 1982 Demo) on bass, and also took over vocal duties;Brian Montana was recruited on guitar, and the second incarnation of Possessed was created.
Pinole is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. The population was 18,390 at the 2010 census.
Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California, by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.
Possessed spent 1983–1984 practicing and working on their sound by performing at local venues and eventually releasing the 3-song demo, Death Metal. After live shows with Metallica and Exodus, the latter group brought the band's demo recording to the attention of Brian Slagel, head of Metal Blade Records. Slagel showed interest in the band and offered to put one of their songs on an upcoming compilation, Metal Massacre VI. The track included was titled Swing of the Axe. Following the release of the compilation, guitarist Brian Montana left the band due to creative differences and was replaced by Blizzard guitarist Larry Lalonde. Although Metal Blade did not offer to sign the band, the compilation drew the attention of Combat Records. Possessed signed with the label and released the album Seven Churches in 1985, with Roadrunner Records handling European distribution. Mechanics Bank heiress Debbie Abono (nee Downer), mother of LaLonde's then-girlfriend, Julie, would manage the band.
Brian Slagel is the founder and CEO of Metal Blade Records. Slagel is known for having initiated the Metal Massacre series of compilation albums in 1982, the first of which included the first commercial recording by Metallica. Metal Blade has since released seminal albums by Slayer, Mercyful Fate, Cannibal Corpse, Fates Warning, Amon Amarth and The Black Dahlia Murder, among others.
Metal Blade Records is a heavy metal independent record label founded by Brian Slagel in 1982. The U.S. office for Metal Blade is located in Agoura Hills, California. It also has offices in Germany, Japan, Canada, and the UK. The label is distributed in the U.S. by RED Distribution, and in Canada by Sony Music Entertainment. It was distributed by Warner Bros. Records in the United States from 1988 to 1993.
Combat Records was an American independent record label from New York City. The label was home to predominantly heavy metal and punk rock acts including Megadeth, Circle Jerks, Nuclear Assault, OZ, Death, Dead Brain Cells, Possessed, Crumbsuckers, Agnostic Front, Agent Steel, Dark Angel, Heathen, Zoetrope and Exodus. In 2017, it was announced that Combat was being relaunched by Megadeth bassist David Ellefson and Thom Hazaert as a new label imprint under their EMP Label Group.
In November of the same year, the band flew to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for the WWIII Weekend Festival in support of the Seven Churches release, playing alongside Celtic Frost, Destruction, Voivod and Nasty Savage; the concert was Possessed's first and largest arena appearance, with nearly 7,000 in attendance.
Montreal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second-most populous municipality in Canada. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. The city is centred on the Island of Montreal, which took its name from the same source as the city, and a few much smaller peripheral islands, the largest of which is Île Bizard. It has a distinct four-season continental climate with warm to hot summers and cold, snowy winters.
Celtic Frost were a Swiss extreme metal band from Zürich. They are known for their strong influence on the development of extreme metal. Formed in 1981 as Hellhammer, the band became Celtic Frost in 1984 and was active until 1993. It re-formed in 2001 and disbanded following frontman Tom Gabriel Fischer's departure in 2008. The band was inspired by metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Venom as well as alternative/gothic rock groups like Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Christian Death and by the hardcore punk of Discharge.
Destruction is a German thrash metal band, formed in 1982. They are often credited as one of the "Big Four" of the German thrash metal scene, the others being Kreator, Sodom and Tankard. In addition to helping pioneer black metal by containing several elements of what was to become the genre, Destruction was part of the second wave of thrash metal in the late 1980s, along with American bands Testament, Sacred Reich, Death Angel and Dark Angel. For most of the 1990s, the band was not signed to a record label and was forced to self-produce their albums until they signed a contract with Nuclear Blast in the early 2000s.
Possessed followed the release with a supporting tour which included a performance with Slayer and Venom at San Francisco's Kabuki in 1986.On Halloween, 1986, Possessed released their second album, Beyond the Gates. The following May, the band issued a five-song EP titled The Eyes of Horror which marked a change in direction for the band. The Satanic themes they had become noted for were almost completely absent, and the songs had more of a thrash metal style than their earlier death metal. The EP was produced by guitarist Joe Satriani, and Storm in My Mind was written by Lalonde, the rest by Torrao who had written most of the band's earlier material too with Becerra writing all but three songs of the lyrics.
Shortly after the release of the Eyes of Horror EP, the band disbanded. In 1989, Jeff Becerra was paralyzed from the chest down following a shooting in a robbery.
In 2007, it was announced Jeff Becerra would be performing under the "Possessed" name at the Wacken Open Air festival and would be backed by all members of Sadistic Intent, one of the bands featured on the Possessed tribute, and would also headline the Gathering of the Bestial Legions III festival in Los Angeles. This same lineup also performed at Maryland Deathfest VIII in May 2010. After a U.S. tour with Danzig and Marduk, Rick and Bay Cortez along with Ernesto Bueno left the band.
By late 2012, Possessed had begun writing new material for their first full-length studio album since 1986's Beyond the Gates.They have aired several new songs live in recent years, which are expected to be featured on the new album.
On May 11, 2017, it was announced that the band had signed to Nuclear Blast Records.The new album was initially set for release in 2018, but was delayed. On March 15, 2019, the album title was revealed as Revelations of Oblivion, and it was released on 10 May 2019, making it Possessed's first album in 33 years. The album entered the UK Rock & Metal Singles and Albums Charts at #7 in its first week.
At least three Possessed members who had written and recorded with the band at some point (vocalist/bassist Becerra, guitarist Torrao and guitarist Montana) cite early Exodus and Venom as their main influences, in addition to NWOBHM acts like Motörhead, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest.Although AllMusic attributed Slayer as being a musical influence for 1985's Seven Churches, the first Slayer album Show No Mercy had not been released until December 1983, shortly after members of Possessed were already writing material for their demo and debut album. Lyrically, most of Possessed's songs focused on Satanism and death.
Possessed are often cited as the first death metal band, largely because of the early use of grunted vocals, ultra-fast drumming and guitar tremolo picking as previously noted. In the 2004 book, "Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore", Jeff Becerra staked claim to creating the "death metal" nomenclature in 1983.The band's efforts on Seven Churches have been called an influence by groups like Death, Pestilence, Sepultura, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Sinister, Vader, God Dethroned and Amon Amarth, the latter five bands having appeared on a 2004 Possessed tribute album. Possessed's The Exorcist had been covered earlier by Cannibal Corpse on the 1993 Hammer Smashed Face EP.
Even while the band had played only a handful of gigs in the Bay Area, they earned a huge capital of popularity in Europe's metal scene.Members of Napalm Death were influenced by Possessed and credit the band for their musical shift from grindcore to a more death metal direction after Scum. In addition to their impression on overseas death metal, the group would also inspire black metal acts like Germany's Falkenbach, Greece's Rotting Christ, Switzerland's Samael and Norway's Dimmu Borgir.
Chuck Schuldiner, who had relocated his band Death to the Bay Area to write Scream Bloody Gore with Chris Reifert, in tandem with Possessed's rise, told magazine Metal Maniacs :
|“||Possessed was different from all the other bands who were coming out at that time. They weren't pure noise, and they attempted to incorporate a lot of different musical ideas into their songwriting, not just rehash the same thing. They were into progressing as a band, which paved the way for other groups to expand their sound and do different things.||”|
In the book Choosing Death, Mantas/Death drummer Kam Lee called Possessed the first death metal band, and added:
|“||When we were in Mantas, (Chuck Schuldiner, Rick Rozz and myself) still had a more Venom/Motörhead sound kinda going on. And then I remember Chuck getting the Possessed demo, and I just remember hearing it and just freaking out like, 'Man, this is the way we gotta be.'||”|
Author Daniel Ekeroth expanded on Lee's assessment of the 1984 Death Metal demo in his book, Swedish Death Metal:
|“||Unlike virtually all other contemporary bands, Possessed left the Venom/Motörhead touches behind, creating "symphonic" tunes, and combining loads of complex riffs and drum patterns with the rawest sounds and fastest paces imaginable...Becerra took his vocal style one step beyond anything the world had heard before, as he seemed to scream and grunt at the same time. All these ideas would later be considered trademarks of death metal, and Possessed's demo has since generally been considered the first pure death metal recording.||”|
Possessed's association with Debbie Abono would be a "first" for both sides: Abono would be the band's first manager, and Possessed were Abono's first managed signed band. A grandmother in her mid-fifties at that time,Abono had no previous connection to heavy metal music other than as a concert designated driver for her daughters, one of whom was a girlfriend of guitarist Larry LaLonde. Due to generation gap, Abono also had limited awareness of the sometimes blasphemous themes of heavy metal, and was allegedly offended upon reading the lyric sheet of Seven Churches. Nevertheless, she agreed to manage and represent Possessed as long as Becerra and LaLonde finished high school commitments. Although the group's relationship amongst themselves and their first manager would reach points of discord and eventual termination, Abono would go on to manage additional bands in the Bay Area metal scene like Exodus, Vio-Lence and Forbidden Evil, as well as death metal bands like Chicago's Broken Hope and Florida's Cynic and Obituary.
While Possessed's first album, Seven Churches, was praised for its speed and the brutality of the vocals, the second album, Beyond the Gates , disappointed both fans and critics alike. Released on Halloween of 1986, the album wasn't as powerful and as influential as its predecessor, and the band's popularity suffered because of it.Because of Possessed's earlier material being more popular than their later work, they are most often remembered for their first album, Seven Churches.
Vocalist/bassist Jeff Becerra continues to play a role in the death, black, and thrash metal scenes. He received a degree in labor studies and plans to pursue a law degree. He revamped the band in 2007.
In 1993, drummer Mike Sus retired from music to pursue other careers, going on to get a degree in psychology and is helping injured people to live a normal everyday life. He is also a drug addiction counselor.
Guitarist Larry LaLonde joined the Bay Area thrash metal band Blind Illusion which released The Sane Asylum in 1988, after which Lalonde with Blind Illusion bassist Les Claypool went on to form the influential funk metal band Primus in 1989.
In 1995, guitarist Mike Torrao joined a new death metal band, Infanticide, but never released any songs to the public. Infanticide broke up in 1997. He has since worked as a landscaper and plays music only in his spare time. As of 2008, Mike Torrao is working with the band INaCAGEin the San Francisco Bay Area.
|1986||Beyond the Gates|
|2019||Revelations of Oblivion||Nuclear Blast|
|2004||Agony in Paradise||Agonia|
|1992||Victims of Death||Relativity/Combat|
|2000||Metal Massacre VI||Metal Blade|
|1987||The Eyes of Horror||Combat|
|2006||Ashes from Hell||Boneless|
|2019||"Shadowcult (live video)"||Nuclear Blast|
Napalm Death are a British extreme metal band formed in Meriden, West Midlands, England, in 1981. While none of its original members remain in the group since December 1986, the lineup of vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway, bassist Shane Embury, guitarist Mitch Harris and drummer Danny Herrera has remained consistent of the band's career since 1992's Utopia Banished, although, from 1989 to 2004, Napalm Death were a five-piece band after they added Jesse Pintado as the replacement of one-time guitarist Bill Steer; following Pintado's departure, the band reverted to a four-piece rather than replace him.
Nasum was a grindcore band from Örebro, Sweden formed in 1992. The band released four studio albums, developed into "one of that country's premier metal acts" and disbanded after the December 2004 tsunami killed the band's frontman, Mieszko Talarczyk. The band's name, Latin for "nose", was taken from the horror film Flesh for Frankenstein.
Dark Angel is an American thrash metal band from Downey, California that formed in 1981. Their over-the-top style earned them the nickname "the L.A. Caffeine Machine". Although Dark Angel had never achieved a mainstream breakthrough in their initial career, they are often credited as one of the leaders of the second wave of the thrash metal movement of the 1980s. Dark Angel released four full-length studio albums before splitting up in 1992. After a short-lived reunion from 2002 to 2005, the band reunited once again in 2013. They are also notable for featuring drummer Gene Hoglan, who has been a member of Dark Angel since 1984, and since their initial breakup in 1992, he has played in several notable bands, such as Death, Testament, Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory and Dethklok.
Blind Illusion is an American progressive thrash metal band from Richmond, California. Formed in 1978 by lead guitarist and main songwriter Marc Biedermann, the band had an extremely unstable lineup and went through several stylistic changes during their time. After a 20-year hiatus, Biedermann reformed Blind Illusion in 2009 and released the band's 2nd album, Demon Master. As of June 2014 they are working on new material.
Brujeria is a Mexican extreme metal band formed in Tijuana, Mexico in 1989. Their name comes from the Spanish word for "witchcraft". Their songs, which are sung in Spanish, are focused on Satanism, anti-Christianity, sex, immigration, narcotics smuggling, and politics. Portraying a Mexican image and with a heavy anti-American stance, the majority of the band's members are Mexican-born, with some being American, Swedish or British.
Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1979 in Richmond, California. They have gone through numerous lineup changes, two extended hiatuses, and the deaths of two former band members. Their current lineup consists of guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus, bassist Jack Gibson, drummer Tom Hunting, and lead vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza. Hunting is one of the original members, and departed from Exodus twice, in 1989 and 2004, but rejoined in 2007. Holt joined the band about two years after its formation, and is the only member of Exodus to appear on all their releases.
Bay Area thrash metal, or "Bay Area thrash", referred to a steady following of heavy metal bands in the 1980s who formed and gained international status in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Along with South Florida, the scene was widely regarded as a starting point of American thrash metal and death metal.
Repulsion is an American grindcore band from Flint, Michigan, founded in 1984.
Reek of Putrefaction is the debut album by British extreme metal band Carcass. It was released by Earache Records in July 1988. It is the very first goregrind album, a musical genre with lyrical focus on grotesque medical and pathological images as opposed to the political themes found in anarcho/crust punk bands.
The Sane Asylum is the debut album by the American thrash metal band Blind Illusion. It was originally released in 1988 through Combat Records. The album features guitarist Larry LaLonde and bassist Les Claypool before they went on to work on Primus and was produced by Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett.
Beyond the Gates is the second album by death metal band Possessed. It took a different direction from their debut, Seven Churches. Compared to Seven Churches, Beyond the Gates has a more technical feeling and, due to poor production, a muddy sound. Reception was mixed, with some very disappointed by the album for the sound and production, while others were happy with the new direction of the band. Beyond the Gates became a sign of Possessed's decline, as they only released the EP The Eyes of Horror before they officially disbanded. This became the band’s last full length album, up until the release of their third studio album ‘Revelations of Oblivion’, 33 years later.
The Eyes of Horror is an EP by American death metal band Possessed. It was released in 1987. It was produced by guitarist Joe Satriani.
Seven Churches is the debut album by American death metal band Possessed. The title of the album refers to the Seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. "The Exorcist" begins with producer Randy Burns' version of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, arranged and performed as it was in the 1973 horror film of the same name. About.com ranked the album first in its list of "10 Essential Death Metal albums".
Abonos is a Serbian gothic metal band from Belgrade.
The Shit Hits The Sheds was a concert tour by the American heavy metal band Metallica, which took place in 1994. The band played in 51 shows in North America, including a performance at Woodstock '94, which had an attendance of over 300,000 people.
Debbie Abono was an American manager of death metal and thrash metal bands during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s.
Wretched is an American extreme metal band from Charlotte, North Carolina founded by Marshall Wieczorek and Steven Fundenburk in 2005. Wretched's musical style incorporates elements of melodic death metal, deathcore, and technical death metal.
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