As far as the history of heavy metal is concerned the 1980’s was arguably the most progressive decade for the genre. Think about it. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Motorhead were leading the genre in the early years, but by the end of the decade we saw the likes of Mayhem, Napalm Death, and Morbid Angel emerge from the underground. That’s a huge leap in just 10 short years. Anybody who’s interested in the history of metal music can tell you that the aforementioned British bands influenced the thrash metal subgenre, and that thrashers influenced many of the extreme metal subgenres: black metal, grindcore, and death metal. Yet, even with that basic knowledge it’s sometimes difficult to see the connection between, say for example, Anthrax and Cannibal Corpse. Obviously there has to be a band that bridges the gap between the two styles, and for death metal, that band is Possessed.
Possessed broke onto the scene in 1985 with their debut album “Seven Churches”. This was a release that still had a very thrashy sound overall yet incorporated elements that would later become trademarks of death metal, such as guttural vocals and tremolo picking. Not to mention, this album just had a heavier and more brutal nature than any thrash metal album at the time. It’s almost as if these guys knew that they were creating the blueprint for a new style, because much like Venom and Anthrax, Possessed also coined the term for their respective subgenre in the final track of this album. It’s easy to see how they would be credited as the first death metal band. As influential as Possessed was, their actual career was short lived, having only released two full length albums and an EP before officially disbanding. Still though, the initial impact of their sound was so great that they were able to pass the torch onto Death and later on the rest of the Florida scene, and to this day the flame of death metal is burning strong.
Every new fan of death metal needs to check out the “Seven Churches” album, not just for a history lesson but because it’s a damn good album!
Fans of Primus should also check it out, just to see what Larry LaLonde was doing before he joined forces with Les Claypool.