Seven Churches (album)

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Seven Churches
Seven Churches (Possessed album).png
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 16, 1985
RecordedLate March/early April 1985
Genre Death metal, thrash metal
Label Relativity/Combat, Roadrunner
Producer Randy Burns
Possessed chronology
Death Metal
Seven Churches
Beyond the Gates
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating (favorable) [1]
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [2]
Spin (favorable) [3]

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. ranked the album first in its list of "10 Essential Death Metal albums". [1]

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 evoke slasher film-stylized violence, political conflict, religion, nature, philosophy, and science fiction.

Possessed (band) American death metal band

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.

Seven churches of Asia

The Seven Churches of Revelation, also known as the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse and the Seven Churches of Asia, are seven major churches of Early Christianity, as mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelation. All of them are located in the Asia Minor, present-day Turkey.



According to David Konow's Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal, the album was recorded during the Spring Break of 1985 when Pinole Valley High School juniors Jeff Becerra and Larry LaLonde had ample time for studio production. [4] Up until the release of the album, the band had practiced at manager Debbie Abono's house in Pinole, [4] but had formed in the El Sobrante/San Pablo area, which was the location of Mike Torrao's and Mike Sus' garage band.

Pinole Valley High School is a high school in Pinole, California, United States, in Contra Costa County. First opened in 1967, the school is part of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Pinole Valley High serves grades 9–12, and has approximately 1,200 students. The school is noted for its girls' basketball team. Coach Dan O'Shea was named "Coach of the Year" in May 2006 by the Oakland Tribune. Band Dircector Erik Radkiewicz was named WCCUSD teacher of the year in 2018 and selected as one of 50 United States "band directors who make a difference" by Halftime Magazine.

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.

Debbie Abono was an American manager of death metal and thrash metal bands during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s.

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. [5]

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 and avant-garde metal. Formed in 1981 as Hellhammer, the band became Celtic Frost in 1984 and released their debut, Morbid Tales, that year. This was followed by To Mega Therion (1985) and the highly experimental Into the Pandemonium (1987), all of which were widely praised. Their next album Cold Lake (1988) saw a new lineup and a radical change of style, which was widely derided. After the release of Vanity/Nemesis (1990), the group disbanded. It re-formed in 2001 and released the critically-acclaimed Monotheist (2006), before disbanding following frontman Tom Gabriel Fischer's departure in 2008.

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.

Voivod (band) Canadian heavy metal band

Voivod is a Canadian heavy metal band from Jonquière, Quebec. The band's current line-up consists of Denis "Snake" Bélanger (vocals), Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain (guitar), Dominic "Rocky" Laroche (bass) and Michel "Away" Langevin (drums). Their musical style has changed several times since the band's origin in the early 1980s. Starting out as a speed metal band, Voivod have added a mix of progressive metal and thrash metal to create their own unique metal style, and they are credited as one of the "big four" Canadian thrash metal bands, along with Sacrifice, Razor, and Annihilator.

Legacy and impact

While Florida's Death had released more albums and is also cited as an enduring death metal progenitor, Seven Churches pre-dated the latter band's 1987 debut, Scream Bloody Gore by two years. The book Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore credited bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra as initially creating the term in 1983. [6]

Death (metal band) American death/progressive metal band

Death was an American death metal band from Orlando, Florida, founded in 1983 by guitarist and vocalist Chuck Schuldiner. Death is considered to be among the most influential bands in heavy metal and a pioneering force in the extreme metal subgenre of death metal. Their debut album, Scream Bloody Gore, has been widely regarded as the first death metal record.

<i>Scream Bloody Gore</i> 1987 studio album by Death

Scream Bloody Gore is the debut studio album by American death metal band Death, released on May 25, 1987, through Combat Records. It was considered "the first true death metal record". Chuck Schuldiner plays bass and guitar, wrote all the songs on the album and provided all the vocals. John Hand is noted on the cover as playing rhythm guitar, though this was incorrect and Hand was only in the band for a short period and was not on the recording. This is also the only Death album to feature drummer Chris Reifert, who had joined for the Mutilation demo.

<i>Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore</i> book

Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore is a book by Albert Mudrian, the founding editor-in-chief of Decibel, a monthly magazine devoted to heavy metal music. The book was first published in 2004 by Feral House and details the evolution of the death metal and grindcore musical genres, from its beginnings as a small subculture exchanging compact cassettes to a genre where some artists reach million-dollar sales. A limited updated and expanded edition was published in hardcover in 2015 by Decibel Books. A further expanded and revised "death-luxe" edition was published in 2016 by Bazillion Points.

Seven Churches has been interchangeably described as "connecting the dots between thrash metal and death metal", [2] being "monumental" in developing the death metal style, [7] and as being the "first death metal album", [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] the latter attributed to interviews with (or literature by) musicians including Kam Lee (ex-Mantas/Death, ex-Massacre), the late Ronnie James Dio (ex-Dio, ex-Black Sabbath) and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Opeth). Former Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris said his introduction to metal was Possessed's Seven Churches album, a personal recommendation to him by then-guitarist Justin Broadrick. [13]

Kam Lee American musician

Kam Lee is an American death metal vocalist. He is best known for his vocal contributions to an early incarnation of Death in 1983–84, and later joined Massacre in 1985, founded and formed by Bill Andrews and Allen West.

Massacre is an American death metal band. They were formed in 1984 by Allen West, Bill Andrews, Rick Rozz, and Terry Butler, and soon after vocalist Kam Lee joined. The band has reunited several times with varying line-ups, most recently in late 2011.

Ronnie James Dio American singer-songwriter and composer

Ronald James Padavona known professionally as Ronnie James Dio or simply Dio, was an American heavy metal singer-songwriter and composer. He fronted or founded numerous groups throughout his career, including Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven & Hell.

In its July 1986 review of Seven Churches, SPIN described the album as belonging to the "sub-mutated genre of death-metal" and being a "full-on Japanese-commuter-train-without-brakes of what this genre should sound like...bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra regurgitates what have to be the most Stygian vocal utterances to date." [3]

<i>Spin</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Spin is an American music magazine founded in 1985 by publisher Bob Guccione, Jr. The magazine stopped running in print in 2012 and currently runs as a webzine, owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group division of Valence Media.

British extreme metal record label Earache Records stated that "....the likes of Trey Azagthoth and Morbid Angel based what they were doing in their formative years on the Possessed blueprint laid down on the legendary Seven Churches recording. Possessed arguably did more to further the cause of 'Death Metal' than any of the early acts on the scene back in the mid-late 80's." [14]

In August 2014, Revolver placed Seven Churches on its "14 Thrash Albums You Need to Own" list. [15]

Track listing

1."The Exorcist"Mike TorraoTorrao, Mike Oldfield 4:51
2."Pentagram" Jeff Becerra Torrao3:34
3."Burning in Hell"BecerraTorrao3:10
4."Evil Warriors"BecerraTorrao3:44
5."Seven Churches"BecerraTorrao, Larry LaLonde 3:14
6."Satan's Curse"TorraoTorrao4:15
7."Holy Hell"BecerraTorrao4:11
8."Twisted Minds"BecerraTorrao5:10
9."Fallen Angel"BecerraTorrao3:58
10."Death Metal"BecerraTorrao3:14
Total length:39:21


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Grindcore is an extreme fusion genre of heavy metal and hardcore punk that originated in the mid-1980s, drawing inspiration from abrasive-sounding musical styles, such as: thrashcore, crust punk, hardcore punk, extreme metal, and industrial. Grindcore is characterized by a noise-filled sound that uses heavily distorted, down-tuned guitars, grinding overdriven bass, high speed tempo, blast beats, and vocals which consist of growls and high-pitched shrieks. Early groups like Napalm Death are credited with laying the groundwork for the style. It is most prevalent today in North America and Europe, with popular contributors such as Brutal Truth and Nasum. Lyrical themes range from a primary focus on social and political concerns, to gory subject matter and black humor.

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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.

Swedish death metal is a death metal music scene developed in Sweden. Many Swedish death metal bands are associated with the melodic death metal movement, thus giving Swedish death metal a different sound from other variations of death metal. Unlike American death metal groups, the first Swedish bands were rooted in hardcore punk. Although Norway is known for its quantity of black metal, Gothenburg in Sweden has a large melodic death metal scene, while Stockholm is known for its more raw death metal scene.

<i>Scum</i> (Napalm Death album) 1987 studio album by Napalm Death

Scum is the debut studio album by English grindcore band Napalm Death. It was released on 1 July 1987 through Earache Records. It is widely considered a formative influence on the grindcore genre.

Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression".

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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.

Pete Sandoval American musician

Pedro Rigoberto "Pete" Sandoval is a Salvadoran-born American death metal drummer. He is widely regarded as "the father of the blast beat" and one of the fastest drummers in the death metal scene. He plays Sabian cymbals and Evans heads. His first significant stint as a drummer was for the grindcore band Terrorizer, formed in 1986, where he began to demonstrate some of his talent. Heavily influenced by the grindcore music around him, Sandoval quickly developed his abilities as a drummer with little formal training or musical education.

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.

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<i>Beyond the Gates</i> (Possessed album) 1986 studio album by Possessed

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.

<i>The Eyes of Horror</i> 1987 EP by Possessed

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  2. 1 2 Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Possessed: Seven Churches". AllMusic . Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  3. 1 2 Rankin, Judge (July 1986). "Possessed: Seven Churches (Combat)". Spin . ISSN   0886-3032.
  4. 1 2 Konow, David (2002). Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal (page 234). Three Rivers Press. ISBN   0-609-80732-3.
  5. 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.
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