October 16, 1985 - 2020: 35 years of: Seven Churches.
Satan is in your stereo.
1985, once again, the year for hate, aggression and raw power AKA speed-fucking-metal ...yet this time, we've got a gang that makes METALLICA, EXODUS and ANTHRAX sound like DURAN DURAN. It's not only the BPM-factor, but the extra special touch that makes a band unique and trend-setting. The evil element got a kickstart with the almighty VENOM, then went underground with HELLHAMMER / CELTIC FROST and then SLAYER made it more bloody and more obvious ...but this time around: everybody dies !
...and what a better way to open up the gates of Hell with the actual soundtrack from the 1973 unholy cult horror classick: The Exorcist.
From movie to music, from menacing to maniacal, from massacra to morbid tales ...haunting the chapel on all Seven Churches as it bluntly bursts out with "The Exorcist" a tried an true bloodlust metal-cut. A view to a kill: that dark evil cloud overheads on all non-believers, as these soldiers of metal rides the lightning and raises the bar with a firm metal-command.
The grim-level goes into overdrive on the speedmetal slaughter "Evil Warriors", where the immortal call "6 - 6 - 6" is yelled out by singer / bassist / hellchild Jeff Becerra. The birth of what would become deathmetal, a mere 2 years later, officialized by Chuck Schuldiner and DEATH.
Faster and hotter ...like a wild-fire "Burning In Hell" and "Satan's Curse" leaves not much to the imagination. Raging drums and painstaking faster fret-work draws blood on impact. More darkness and vileness is execrated on "Holy Hell" and the foreshadowing closing track "Death Metal". Total desecration, total violence and total antichrist hate.
The metal-mecca, the San Francisco Bay Area was THE thrashmetal hotbed for raw-metal in the 80s. After the initial shock of EXODUS and METALLICA, the second wave destroyed everything in the pit, namely: TESTAMENT, HEATHEN, DEATH ANGEL, VIO-LENCE, FORBIDDEN and POSSESSED !
Now the debate: is POSSESSED's debut a deathmetal release ? The short answer is no. Extremely influent, musically and lyrically boundary-pushing and trailblazing, but even though the sickness and brutally is unmatched, it still does miss the slower and mid-paced moody parts, the guitar and bass-downtuning and the signature deep guttural-vocals, a standard in the genre. So against these facts, so close and deadly: the Seven Churches LP is not an actual deathmetal release.
In the extreme metal-world and related history books, there is nothing like Welcome To Hell, Hell Awaits and the pure evilness of Seven Churches. 35 years ago, while the arms-race was in full motion, this volatile exhibition sat metal on a new path of extremes. A new fine distinctive line between thrashmetal and speedmetal was now making room for what would become a new musical genre known as: Death-Metal !
Live at Ruthie's Inn in 1985
Live audio at Montreal's WW3 Festival in 1985
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