The French have a saying which roughly translates as ‘back stairs wit’ which is essentially the moment you think of that really sharp verbal riposte… that you think of on the way home after the exchange has ended. If there is such a musical equivalent that relates to discovering a band that you really get into, only to have them call it a day shortly after then I have that very curse.
For example, I didn’t ignite my love for Chicago blackened sludge tyrants Indian until 2015 when trawling the previous year’s releases, I discovered their magnum opus For All Purity. Immediately I was hooked and consumed every scrap of recorded material only for the band to call time and their passing be marked with the savage Live At Roadburn release.
Similarly, London based horror aficionados Possessor only came to my attention during the lost time of COVID ridden 2020, when reviewing a choice amount of releases from the consistently good Salford label APF Records I came across that year’s stellar Damn The Light (released by the way on beautiful grey splatter vinyl amongst other formats).
Possessor’s story began several years previous in 2014 and have actually clocked up a surprising number of EPs and five increasingly great albums, most notably 2019’s Gravelands and of course the aforementioned gore splattered Damn The Light. An unhinged brutal assault of thrash and heavy grooves, the band attacked their powerful brand of metal with full on bug eyed frenzy, encyclopaedic amounts of horror film references and samples, and in a very British styling, a sense of humour giving a nodding wink to the listener that’s worthy of a Sami Raimi B movie.
But of course, whilst I was looking forward to their next full length, instead we get the sad news that after eight years the trio of Marc Brereton (bass), Graham Bywater (vocals/guitar), and Nathan Perrier who joined them on drums for Damn The Light, have called time at the bar for the band and this January’s four-track The Speed Of Death is their final exclamation point that will have you smiling from ear to ear like a Chelsea Grin.
Belligerent from the first second, Twisted Nerve Endings has an almost industrial grind and mid-paced riff that will have your face twisting into a classic metal gurn. Heavy and choppy it dials back to just bass and drums whilst the de rigor sample talks of boys gone bad and then they boot the whole thing into the next gear, Bywater rasping, double bass drums clattering, and a bouncing groove that is at once upbeat and like a mad conductor orchestrating a fight in the devil’s orchestra. Even the fast, almost melodic vocals that usher in the solo and fast guitar run marking the end of the track is trad metal meets thrash and deceptively catchy.
a gleeful, shit kicking melting pot of high tempo riffing and breakneck transitions…
Medusa Lives starts with the kind of insane circus woozy like organ that White Zombie used to use to great effect before they utterly obliterate the uneasy atmosphere with a High On Fire/Motörhead buzzsaw attack filled with frantic tom action, churning guitar, and barking vocals that never drop below rabid delivery in a delicious mad dash to the thunderous climax.
Throwaway sample bridge Paura, complete with thunder and feedback, warns of graphic content that is not for the squeamish, before the final bow out with the fourth track Draw Blood. Showcasing everything that made Possessor so great in a gleeful, shit kicking melting pot of high tempo riffing and breakneck transitions, it also manages to be catchy, even if you only sing along with the chorus like ‘Her, neer, haaaw’. Bywater unleashes some Maiden like axe attack in the midst of some old school classic metal chops and then, just like that, they are gone with the silence ringing like the echoes of a creature of the night banished by the dawn. And that, it would seem is that. Thank you Possessor, I hardly knew you.
The Speed Of Death is a wonderful, dirty little sign off from a band who gleefully revelled in some of eighties thrash metal’s best cliches and yet has a modern updated feel. At twelve minutes in length, this is a bittersweet experience, its gone before you realise it and will have you reaching for the play button again and again. The band has promised there is more to come from the individuals, but their legacy should not be overlooked as Possessor produced some quality material to which this is just the chef’s kiss on their career.
If you want a short sample to show your f(r)iends then this is perfect, if you want something with a bit more staying power, I can only refer you back to Damn The Light.
Either way, however long you knew them, eight years or a paltry twelve months, Possessor brought fun and joy through their love of the darkness and made the UK scene that little brighter for having them in it. If this is your first time, they will leave you wanting more.
I should close out with ‘Fangs For The Memories’, but I feel that Shaman Lee might revoke my privileges…
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden