When a preview track from this album popped up in my YouTube feed I’ll admit my heart sank. I’ve had quite enough of bands returning from the grave, Febreezing their old leather trousers and haunting their legacy like a musty whiff. Whilst I knew Possessed were still touring, the only original member was Jeff Becerra and it was fair to assume they only existed to milk that pair of albums from back in the day.
It’s hard to explain quite what Seven Churches meant to me as a teenager. Once every couple of weeks I’d visit legendary London record shop Shades, armed with enough money to buy two domestic LP releases (usually £4.99). As I descended the stairs one particular week, it was to the familiar lilt of Mike Oldfield‘s Tubular Bells – or so I thought. What followed was literally the heaviest thing I had ever heard at that time, a sonic onslaught that felt confusing, terrifying, but also absolutely what I’d been dreaming to hear. I bought the album immediately, despite it being an £8.99 import, and played it pretty much every day for the next few months. It still gets a regular airing and holds up to this day.
Anyway, back to YouTube. Morbid curiosity got the better of me and I pressed play on No More Room in Hell. Within thirty seconds I had to scrape my disbelieving jaw from the floor. Somehow, incredibly, Possessed have returned and the magic spell that set them apart from their peers remains unbroken. Having now had the chance to listen to this album in full several times (thanks to the good folks at Sentinel Daily), it’s unequivocal; this is not just a fantastic album, it’s a fantastic ‘Possessed’ album and one that comfortably sits aside the classic catalogue.
It’s likely this is in no small part down to the band that Jeff has built around him, and a look at Metal Archives shows that they’re all seasoned musicians with a long list of credits to their name. But the craft that has gone into this record shows that it’s not the work of mere session men; these guys have forensically deconstructed the source material, they’ve understood it, and as a result the new songs have been meticulously shaped with a loving ear. And that voice, the voice that launched a thousand Chucks, remains unsullied.
What’s most remarkable is that it simply doesn’t ape those old albums. They’ve extracted the key elements that set Possessed apart, even down to the roto-toms, and have built something modern on those foundations that can stand alone in 2019, even if no one understands the references.
A wonderful surprise, and a brilliant album.
Revelations of Oblivion is released on May 10th.