Possessed Seven Churches/Beyond the Gates/The Eyes of Horror

In 1985, Possessed were an anomaly in metal for not only surpassing the old adage that “you're only as good as your drummer” — Mike Sus was truly one of metal's worst time-keepers and the increased quality of these CD reissues makes that indisputable — but also for showing that there is life and originality in black/death metal. All this from a band with half the members still in high school at the time. Larry Lalonde and company combined the buzzsaw rawness of Motörhead with the evil velocity and studs 'n' leather image of Venom. Adding to that Jeff Becerra's throaty delivery, a unique cache of riffs, ridiculously entertaining satanic lyrics and intricate guitar solos created some of the most brutal and groundbreaking extreme metal of the age. It's also funny to count the number of riffs that have been “borrowed” in the Euro-old-school revival of late. Their second album, Beyond the Gates, suffered from Carl Canedy's absolutely pathetic production job, which made it sound about as full as an unguarded stein at Oktoberfest, but still contained some great songs. The bass was limp and ineffectual, as were the drums, which didn't help the wavering beats of you know who. Still, Beyond… housed some great metal. Possessed's last release was the Joe Satriani-produced The Eyes of Horror EP and here is where you can hear how some members of the band progressed while leaving others in the dust. Lalonde was taking guitar lessons from Satch and it shows in the blazing, yet mournful, solos and wanky guitar intros. Jeff Becerra had become one of the scene most frightening vocalists and began to expand as a lyricist. During their short tenure, Possessed proved themselves as one of death metal's most innovative bands. Hear how it should be done. (Century Media)