Possessed (band)

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Possessed
Possessed - Wacken Open Air 2017 01.jpg
Possessed performing live in 2017.
Background information
Origin San Francisco Bay Area, California
Genres Death metal, thrash metal
Years active1983–1987, 1990–1993, 2007–present
Labels Combat, Relativity, Under One Flag, Agonia, Roadrunner, Nuclear Blast
Website www.possessedofficial.com
MembersJeff Becerra
Daniel Gonzalez
Emilio Márquez
Robert Cardenas
Claudeous Creamer
Past membersSee: 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. [1] 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.

Death growl voice type

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.

Larry LaLonde American musician

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.

Contents

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. [2]

History

Formation (1983)

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.

San Francisco Bay Area Conurbation in California, United States

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, California City in California, United States

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, California Census-designated place in California, United States

El Sobrante is a census-designated place (CDP) in Contra Costa County, California, United States. The population was 12,669 at the 2010 census.

Pinole Valley High School, the alma mater of Jeff Becerra, Larry LaLonde, Danny Boland and Michael Miner (Class of 1986_1, 2 3). Miner and LaLonde would join Blind Illusion after Possessed's first disbanding. After Blind Illusion disbanded, LaLonde would replace Todd Huth (Class of 1981) on guitar in Primus. PinoleVHS.jpg
Pinole Valley High School, the alma mater of Jeff Becerra, Larry LaLonde, Danny Boland and Michael Miner (Class of 1986_1, 2 3). Miner and LaLonde would join Blind Illusion after Possessed's first disbanding. After Blind Illusion disbanded, LaLonde would replace Todd Huth (Class of 1981) on guitar in Primus.

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; [3] Brian Montana was recruited on guitar, and the second incarnation of Possessed was created.

Pinole, California City in California, United States

Pinole is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. The population was 18,390 at the 2010 census.

Metallica American heavy metal band

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.

Rise (1983–1987)

Possessed spent 19831984 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. [4] [5] 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, [4] [6] 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 record label

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. [7]

Montreal City in Quebec, Canada

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 Swiss metal band

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 (band) German thrash metal band

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. [8] 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.

Disbandings, reformations and new-line-ups (1987–2011)

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. [9] [10]

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.

Revelations of Oblivion (2012–present)

By late 2012, Possessed had begun writing new material for their first full-length studio album since 1986's Beyond the Gates. [11] 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. [12] 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. [13] The album entered the UK Rock & Metal Singles and Albums Charts at #7 in its first week. [14]

Influences

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. [15] [16] Although AllMusic attributed Slayer as being a musical influence for 1985's Seven Churches, [17] 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.

Legacy

Jeff Becerra at Finland's 2008 Jalometalli. Possessed - Jalometalli 2008 - 01.JPG
Jeff Becerra at Finland's 2008 Jalometalli.

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. [18] 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. [19] [20] [21] 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. [22] 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. [23] In addition to their impression on overseas death metal, the group would also inspire black metal acts like Germany's Falkenbach, [24] Greece's Rotting Christ, [25] Switzerland's Samael [26] and Norway's Dimmu Borgir. [27]

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 :

In the book Choosing Death, Mantas/Death drummer Kam Lee called Possessed the first death metal band, and added:

Author Daniel Ekeroth expanded on Lee's assessment of the 1984 Death Metal demo in his book, Swedish Death Metal:

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, [31] [32] 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. [32] 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. [22] Nevertheless, she agreed to manage and represent Possessed as long as Becerra and LaLonde finished high school commitments. [22] 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. [33]

Jeff Becerra 2008 at Jalometalli Possessed - Jalometalli 2008 - 03.JPG
Jeff Becerra 2008 at Jalometalli

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. [34] [35] Because of Possessed's earlier material being more popular than their later work, they are most often remembered for their first album, Seven Churches.

Original line-up today

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. [36]

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. [4] [37]

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 INaCAGE [38] in the San Francisco Bay Area. [36]

Discography

Studio albums

YearTitleLabel
1985 Seven Churches Relativity/Combat
1986 Beyond the Gates
2019 Revelations of Oblivion Nuclear Blast

Live albums

YearTitleLabel
2004 Agony in Paradise Agonia

Compilation albums

YearTitleLabel
1992 Victims of Death Relativity/Combat
2003 Resurrection Agonia
2000 Metal Massacre VI Metal Blade

Extended plays

YearTitleLabel
1987 The Eyes of Horror Combat
2006 Ashes from Hell Boneless
2019ShadowcultNuclear Blast

Music videos

YearTitleLabel
2019"Shadowcult (live video)"Nuclear Blast

Line-up

Current members
Former members

Timeline

Possessed (band)

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References

  1. Possessed band page, Eduardo Rivadavia, Allmusic: "The brutal Seven Churches was arguably the first true death metal album and set the stage for the genre's breakaway from thrash."
  2. Possessed to Release “Revelations of Oblivion” on May 10, Stream First Song Decibel. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. MusicMight :: Artists :: POSSESSED ))) Archived 2013-11-04 at the Wayback Machine
  4. 1 2 3 Possessed Bio @ The Gauntlet
  5. Possessed: Biography, Discography Archived 2011-06-15 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Twisted Minds, Possessed history
  7. Christe, Ian (February 17, 2004). Sound of the beast: the complete headbanging history of heavy metal (page 142). It Books. ISBN   0-380-81127-8.
  8. Metal-Rules.com - Possessed: Where Are They Now?
  9. Frank Stöver interviews Jeff Becerra
  10. POSSESSED's JEFF BECERRA Gives Revealing Interview, Blabbermouth.net, July 22, 2008
  11. Possessed Working On New Music; 'Barge To Hell' Performance Footage Posted Online
  12. "POSSESSED Signs With NUCLEAR BLAST". Blabbermouth.net. May 11, 2017. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  13. "POSSESSED To Release Revelations Of Oblivion Album In May; Artwork, "No More Room In Hell" Visualizer Streaming". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. March 15, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  14. Official Rock & Metal Albums Chart Top 40 - May 10-16 Official Charts. 17 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  15. POSSESSED interview - Jeff Becerra
  16. POSSESSED interview - Brian Montana
  17. allmusic(((Seven Churches > Overview)))
  18. John Peel,, Albert Mudrian (2004). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN   1-932595-04-X.
  19. KARMA006 - Various - Seven Gates of Horror
  20. PESTILENCE interview - Martin Van Drunen
  21. PESTILENCE interview - Patrick Mameli
  22. 1 2 3 Konow, David (2002). Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal (page 234). Three Rivers Press. ISBN   0-609-80732-3.
  23. Mudrian, Albert (July 14, 2009). Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces (page 59). Da Capo Press. ISBN   0-306-81806-X.
  24. FALKENBACH interview - Vratyas Vakyas
  25. ROTTING CHRIST interview - Sakis Tolis
  26. SAMAEL interview - Michael Locher (Vorph)
  27. McIver, Joel (2004). Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica (Silenoz: "The bands that had an immense impact on me were....Possessed..."). Omnibus Press. ISBN   1-84772-797-2.
  28. Ian Christe (2004). Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal (page 115). Harper Paperbacks. ISBN   0-380-81127-8.
  29. John Peel, Albert Mudrian (2004). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore (page 70). Feral House. ISBN   1-932595-04-X.
  30. Ekeroth, Daniel (2008). Swedish Death Metal (page 12). Bazillion Points. ISBN   978-0-9796163-1-0.
  31. Konow, David (2002). Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal (page 233). Three Rivers Press. ISBN   0-609-80732-3.
  32. 1 2 Ian Christe (2004). Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal (page 113). Harper Paperbacks. ISBN   0-380-81127-8.
  33. OBITUARY interview - John Tardy
  34. Eduardo Rivadavia, Review of Possessed, Beyond the Gates, Allmusic: "[The album] wound up coming as a disappointment to most critics and fans alike . . . transforming a sound previously distinguished for its inexorable power into a ragged, decidedly weaker-kneed replacement."
  35. Eduardo Rivadavia, Possessed band page, Allmusic: "Their second effort, Beyond the Gates, was released, fittingly enough, on Halloween 1986, but didn't have the same impact as its predecessor."
  36. 1 2 Possessed - Where Are They Now?, on Metal Rules July 2001
  37. Twisted Minds, Possessed - Where Are They Now?
  38. The official INaCAGE website