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Possessed - Seven Churches
Review: Raw alienation permeates the antagonistic aesthetic of this underground classic which strung together its somewhat crude conceptual implements into one of the most influential documents within metal history. Built of the elemental rhythmic violence of thrash bands hybridized into the longer song structures of heavy metal bands and the progressive avant garde, infused with the layerings of melody and dissonance appreciated only in black metal bands at that time, the music of Possessed comes fully formed with internal conflicts for authenticity.
Uber-phrase percussion emulates the machine mockingly, applying intervals and textures alongside chordal variations to transition both linear sections and the whole of each song, where it is conveniently freed to trace the veings of a greater structure than to be tied to the looping chorus of the end of each phrase. With jigsaw precision and abstract conception of rhythm Possessed place radical intervals of tempo in juxtaposition to the great success of the snowballing intensity of each song, finding centers and places of great conflict for insertion of either melodic layer speed riffing or wintery vegetation of guitar solos, a squirming spew of vermicular attackers climbing atonally, even haphazardly, to confrontational conclusions in nihilist, irresolved sounds. Much like Slayer and contemporaries Morbid Angel the lead guitar sounds are noise: bent notes, twisted notes, trailing dispassionate resolutions.
Simple power chords chromatically assembled comprise each riff's basis of tonal elements, resonating as essential tone-centering while iterated in combinations emphasizing alternatingly the melodic, the dissonant, and that which is finite in conclusion.
With a consistent vocal and structural tempo revealing hardcore roots and a vocabulary of riffing from Slayer to Hellhammer and beyond, Possessed exemplified the post-modern attitudes of death metal: that violence and perversity are the forces of wordly manipulation, that reality is a waking dream, that insignificance and obliviousness were the trademark of contemporary consumer reality. Through each deconstructive riff or lyric about the omnivorous powers of Satan they establish the concept of entropy at work in the future of society, and suggest alternatives through dark worship of life and its supercessor, death.
Texturally and structurally this material is excellent, although tactically it sometimes applies its ideas unsteadily in a somewhat inexperienced manner, making what is brilliant material appear from a distance as musical naivete. Artistically there is a level of understanding for the power of this music, which resides in its communicative mood and meta-vocal affirmation of the desire to live as a creature of power in a world of fear.