The opening song of Seven Churches starts off with The Exorcist theme taken from Tubular Bells but performed by producer Randy Burns. This emblematic introduction played on a cheap organ synth with its muddy timbre is the perfect introduction for this innovative band that managed to reconcile underground metal with the blossoming Speed metal movement into a vicious piece that carries on towards a much darker path.
When you’re talking about death metal bands that have a great discography, Possessed is likely going to be mentioned. Seven Churches is largely considered one of the greatest albums of the genre, and while Beyond The Gates is generally an inferior work, it still has some good moments. Even the demos from 1991 and 1993, which featured a very different lineup than the “classic” lineup, are a curiosity to listen to.
A landmark in underground metal has been allowed to be 30 years old for some time now. We can’t have that, can we? Seven Churches is sometimes labeled the first “death metal” album by members of the press. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say that, but it’s a cruciallink between earlier speed metal and more advanced recordings that would come out only a year later. Musically, this fits in well with many of its immediate proto-underground contemporaries, like Bathory, Celtic Frost (at least on their faster material), and perhaps Show No Mercy era Slayer, although it benefits from an especially clear and powerful production given its vintage. Later works by the band more closely resemble extreme, souped up speed metal than the more evolved recordings of the late ’80s, but this album came in at just the right time to directly influence many aspiring (or at least aspirating) metalheads.