The take-no-prisoners speedcore band that coined the term "DEATH METAL"!!!!

(and then joined Primus)

*special introductory paragraph!
*Demo 1984
*Seven Churches
*Beyond The Gates
*The Eyes Of Horror EP

Suicidal Tendencies had a song on their first album called "Possessed" and one on their second called "Possessed To Skate." In addition, Leslie Nielsen, Ned Beatty and Linda Blair starred in a hilarious 1990 spoof entitled Repossessed. However, I'm not here to discuss any of those, as much as you'd wish me to do so. Instead, I'd like to "rap" with you kids about Possessed, a classic thrash/death metal band from mid-80s San Francisco. And I will now proceed to do so - if it's okay with you.

The second that the high-speed eight-note bass line pumps out of the silence, you know that you're about to encounter one of the catchiest and greatest tracks on the debut album by Venice, CA's Suicidal Tendencies. When A - GODDAMMIT TO F

When guitarists Mike Torrao and Brian Montana, bassist/yeller Jeff Becerra and drummer Mike Sus got together in 1984 to play some good old-fashioned rock and roll, they had no idea that they would be the progenitors of one of the most exciting and cerebral forms of music ever created. Nor did Brian Montana know he was about to be fired and replaced by Larry LaLonde. And even THEN, they didn't know that they would peter out after one classic album and Larry LaLonde would end up playing with Les Claypool in both the great progressive thrash band Blind Illusion and the great weirdo bass-driven cartoon group Primus. And how could they have known that Mike Sus would end up going back to school to get a psychology degree? Nobody could have known that! Not even his own parents, I bet! And believe me, when he was out there on stage shredding those high-speed thrashin' riffs, no way in HELB could Mike Torrao have imagined that he'd wind up founding a landscaping business. Worst of all is that not even God bothered predicting that Jeff Becerra would be shot in a robbery and paralyzed from the chest down. But that's the nature of life - it's unpredictable. Nobody can predict at what temperature water will boil, nor what time it will be one hour from now. Nature has no rules, specifically gravity. I'm 6 feet in the air right now, just spinning around. Because I don't believe your "scientific" fairy tales. Interestingly, I stole all of this band info from http://www.metal-rules.com/where/Possessed.htm, but that's okay. You have to steal things sometimes; how else could I have wallpapered my toilet with the *actual* U.S. Constitution? In this film, a grown-up Blair plays a housewife who becomes possessed by the Devil while watching TV. Leslie Nielsen plays Father Mayii, who gets called to exorcise the intrusive being.

Demo 1984 - Bootleg
Rating = 6

This 4-song demo showcases Possessed as four Venom fans not named "Larry LaLonde." However, where Venom in 1982 gruffly shouted over high-speed locomotive Motorhead-on-even-more-amphetamines chord changes about something called "Black Metal," Possessed in 1984 " " " "-" " "-"-"-"-" " " " " " "DEATH Metal!" Isn't it funny how two different violent thrash bands made up names for genres that they didn't even PLAY? This never could have happened in the '60s! Can you imagine the Monkees recording a song called "Smooth Jazz"? Or The Electric Prunes' hit single "Techno"? Ha! Let's all laugh a collective sigh that the world used to be more innocent!

This demo might as well be by Venom. It sounds just like them! Just like their fastest material anyway. It's demo-quality of course, with very flat sound, too-quiet drums and absolutely zero dynamics, but it's easy to get swept up in the pleasing headbanging rhythm and incredibly agitated fast-as-a-canoe guitar jugga-jugga-jugga chordmerizing. Simple, high-speed aggression, but truthfully that's about all there is to say about it. The chord combinations are okay, but Possessed needs something more. Something to truly differentiate themselves from Cronos, Abaddon and Mantas (aside from Mantas's mustache). Some faster note-playing, some brighter and more interesting solos, some stranger hooks --- why, they need they some Barry LaBondes! Here, I'll give him a call.

Me: Larry?
Larry: That's my name. Don't wear it outside.
Me: Hi, it's 1984 and Possessed needs a better guitarist.
Larry: Do they play funky bass-driven cartoon music where the guy sings in a funny voice?
Me: Yes.
Larry: Great because that's my favorite kind of music. I'll be there in 5 minutes.
Me: Okay, great. Ask for Mike Torrao. He'll be the guy running the landscaping business.
Larry: Wait, did you mean to call Larry LaLonde? This is Larry Hagman, of TV's Dallas.
Me: Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle.
Larry: Oh, your sister does animal porn too? My nephew is some sort of half-man/half-otter thing.
Me: Do you think some of the decisions made on Dallas were more personal than professional e.g. bringing back Patrick Duffy and reducing the roles of the women? Do you think on reflection some of these decisions hurt the show? I can't help but think Victoria Principal left because her character was totally dumbed down at this time to beef up the character of Bobby.
Larry: I don't know, I wasn't aware of anything like that. Maybe you are reading more than there is to it. I think she left to make some more money which indeed she has. She is a multi multi multi millionaire. You know she has her own skin care, exercise and diet books? I think she made a hundred million dollars last year and she's been doing that for fifteen years. So that girl is smart, she made that Dallas role into a physical and beautiful icon in this country.
Me: Are you still in contact with Victoria?
Larry: Well we see each other occasionally, at a Charity banquet or a ball, something like that.
Me: Larry, do you think the show would have been as successful if JR had not been shot?
Larry: I was shot when I think it was number one. That was the catalyst for the interest in the show. Certainly it went on for a long time after that but that's what really kicked it off. Of course a lot of people watched it just because of the novelty of the situation.
Me: I have been a "Dallas' fan for over 20 years. Who is your favorite mistress that JR was involved with?
Larry: Holly Harwood was my favorite, she was so beautiful. There was another girl, she was gorgeous, Mandy Winger, she was such a good mistress, so nice to me and such a nice girl. Deborah Sheldon, a gorgeous girl and really nice too.
Me: I absolutely loved your book. I know there were some negative comments thrown at the show by Donna Reed and Dack Rambo. Were you upset by their comments or is all part of the acting world?
Larry: I really loved Donna, she was a wonderful woman, what happened with her was that she got off a plane in Paris during our hiatus and a journalist ran up to her and said 'What does it feel like being fired from Dallas?' , and that was the first time she had been aware of that. Which I thought was kind of awful, you would of thought, call her agent, maybe they did and the agent didn't get a hold of her. You know Hollywood is a weird and wonderful place, I didn't know I Dream of Jeanie had been cancelled after 5 years until I went back to go on the lot to pick up some clothes and things I had in my dressing room and the guy asked me who I was and I said 'Bill this is Larry Hagman Hagman' , "Well I'm sorry Mr Hagman there is no pass down here for you", and I said "Really why?" and he said "You know your shows been cancelled". That's the first time I knew about it too, this is a weird and wonderful town. So I don't know what she said about me to tell you the truth, I don't know if it was her herself or her husband, or her agent. You never know about these things, some things are printed maliciously in a magazine like the Star or the National Enquirer, one of those things. It's just supposition and they just want to sell some papers. That quote may have come from something like that, that often happens. I don't think much of it, there's nothing much you can do about it anyhow. I loved her, I thought she was a wonderful girl. As far as Dack was concerned I didn't even know he was gay for gods sake, I mean I'm pretty naive about some things. It never occurred to me he was gay.
Me: Oh, he was. I fucked him and I'm straight.
Larry: Do you write exactly what I say? Do you edit this?
Me: It depends, we normally write it up as it is
Larry: So if I say fuck or anything like that do you take it out?
Me: No we leave it in (laughs)
Larry: ok, fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck, get that out of my system
Me: So you'll join Possessed?
Larry: Sure.

Reader Comments

jbhull5@msn.com (Jim Hull)

If Mantas suddenly became a Christian, would he be a Praying Mantas????




Dear Mark,

This is probably the most hilarious review you've ever done.

That is all.

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Seven Churches - Relativity 1985
Rating = 8

First of all, that's a lot of churches. Am I right??? I mean, how many churches do you NEED? Maybe two or two and a half if they serve different refreshments but SEVEN!? Jesus smothered in shit, it's not like there's a different God in each one! Speaking of guitar Gods, Larry LaLonde has rescued this band from the groaning underground deathbelly of crude Venom locomotive death speed rocking, adding character and skill in the form of unbelievably quick finger technique and a bright, slightly delayed guitar tone that tears through the muddy garage fuzz chordslamming like a lightning streak of manic energy, desperation and weird sad beauty.

God, I fuckin' hate getting struck by a lightning streak of manic energy, desperation and weird sad beauty. HOLY SHIT! Helios Creed fans! Helios Creed fans???? Fuckin' listen to "Burning In Hell" at exactly 1:39!!!!!! That's Helios Fuckin' Creed's trademark lick!!! In a motherfucking Possessed song!!!! Did Helios steal it? Why Helios why??? Ah who fucking cares.

This LP includes all four songs from the demo (though they seem slightly faster here, and LaLondey!) as well as six newer compositions that take full advantage of Larry's mindblowingly speedy and unorthodox fingernotesmithery (Joe Satriani was his guitar teacher, natch), doubling the inventiveness by coming up with some truly weird weird chord combinations, natch. These high-speed thrash numbers will have you headbanging, natch, but they also have slower mosh parts, natch.

I apologize for directing most of this review to my buddy Natch, but he's a huge Possessed fan so I thought I'd give him a few "shout-outs" since he's a "shut-in" who does nothing but watch "Laugh-In," sniff "white-out," engage in "shoot-outs," and squirt "cum shots" in the McDonald's "drive-thru." In the interim, Possessed on Seven Churches sound just about completely insane. The billion-beats-a-minute doop-chick tempos propel the ridiculously jagged, fuzzed-out, pissed-off guitar jugga-jugga boodly-boodly-boodlies as the vocalist continues to shout at you with forty pounds of hardened phlegm bouncing to and fro in his windpipe. And dude, check out the two-word titles of the last seven songs in a row -- "Evil Warriors," "Seven Churches," "Satan's Curse," "Holy Hell," "Twisted Minds," "Fallen Angel," "Death Metal." Baby, THAT's songwriting.

But is it death metal? Oi vai. If so, it's really really early death metal. But I personally think it's just harsher speed metal, like Slayer. When I think "death metal," I think a ton of hard-to-follow melodic changes and hilariously low gruff spoken vocals -- complex and difficult music that evolved from the extremities of grindcore. Possessed don't sound like this at all. They're just a very very fast thrash band that sound a bit more pissed off than usual.

So prepare your heart for sweaty thrash and roll energy filled with God's Ass-Kicking Fast-Finger Lead Guitarist, sicko chord changes of mental disturbance, and a drummer with five arms and no metronome, because Seven Chinese Brothers will be today's album for your loving! A high high 8 for this extreme metal classic, which is marred only by a couple of lesser variations on the basic Possessed sound (particularly "Twisted Minds," which might as well be called "Typical Example of Thrash Genre").

Also, am I crazy or is something seriously fucked with the drumming on this record? Either they worked in a number of exceptionally tight time-signature changes or the drummer's timing is surprisingly loose (i.e. absolutely atrocious) during the longer, faster instrumental parts. Whichever the case, the constant speed-ups, slow-downs and missed beats will make you feel like you're LOSING your MIND! MIND mind MIND mind MIND! Or is it all in my head? HEAD head HEAD head HEAD? I mean, the guy just sounds like he's playing so fast, he's INCAPABLE of moving his wrists in time. Does it sound like that to you too? Mind you, I love the effect - it makes the whole thing sound even more out of control. But I'm just curious if you've noticed it too. Are my ears just filled with beans?

Reader Comments

Thanks for reviewing Possessed, as a huge Primus fan, I've yet to hear any, so I've downloaded "Seven Churches" to check out Ler in. Also, that review was hilarious.

And, I've started my own review page after Brad who did his after you. Yeah, I'm working on it, so if you're ever bored, let me know how horrible it is. Thanks for the inspiration too.


classic death-thrash debut. whether we can credit Possessed or Chuck Schuldiner for starting "death metal" can be debated into eternity, but both were ahead of their time on Scream Bloody Gore/demo era Death and this album respectively. Tarrao and LaLonde (hey, Claypool auditioned for Cliff Burton's spot in '86, it's not like LaLonde is the only Primus guy weened on extreme metal) shred their Wesley Willis style rock soloist asses off, and Becerra screams and pumps out the bass like a man, well, possessed. Glad to see all this reissued in the late 90s, but this is easily Possessed's essential release, though Eyes of Horror has it's moments. All 10 songs are very good to classic. Cannibal Corpse has covered "Exorcist" and Eyes of Horror's "Confession" on the Hammer Smashed Face and Worm Infested EPs too. 10/10.

Man did I feel stupid when I saw this. So, when I was first thinking of getting this album I started googling reviews for it not even once checking this site even though I'm always on it because I didn't think it would've been reviewed. But anyways, I have a lot of metal head friends and some of that shit has rubbed off on me (mainly Speak English Or Die, Reign In Blood and everything by Wehrmacht) and many of them love this one. I automatically assumed Possessed had a high pitch singer for some reason and never bothered hearing them because I hate high pitched vocals. I still don't know why I thought that. Then I heard "The Exorcist" and loved it.

I really hate death metal. I find it more humorous than threatening. In fact, I can't really take it seriously with those MANLY TOUGH vocals. But that's just me. But I love the way this guy sings (forgot his name). Probably the reason I love "The Exorcist" so much is because the riffs themselves sound like they would be in a hardcore punk song. Not trying to be all evil and shit.. well the riffs anyway (that Satan crap can get really annoying). The album has some kick ass highlights though. Like "Pentagram" or that really cool lead part in "Seven Churches" or "Holy Hell" and its weirdness. I just don't find the album to be that consistent though. It's not by any means bad, but I guess you have to be really into metal to find this one amazing. It's still worth a listen but it's no wonder Reign In Blood got all the credit for best thrash album shit thing around that time period. 8.5 or 9/10

Also to the capitalizer down there in the Beyond The Gates comments:

Madan Mohan
In some aspects, it does depart from thrash metal in that I hear some riffs that would come to be associated more with death metal, especially on Burning in Hell and the guitar tones too seem to evoke death metal. What it 'lacks' yet is the sheer precision, speed and brutality of quintessential death metal (but the rawness accounts for a good deal of the violence and aggression of this album). A fairly consistent album, and I mean that in both a good and a bad way. Metal sure was moving fast in the 80s. The first full fledged thrash metal album, Ride the Lightning, was released in 1984 and by the very next year, some folks had already got tired of it and moved to more brutal things!

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Beyond The Gates - Combat 1986
Rating = 6

I politely asked this CD to review itself so I could read the new Hoof Beats, but I checked back half an hour later and not a single word of text had been written. And you know what that means! I'll make the dog do it.

Well, I've asked everybody I know and it seems that NOBODY wants to write this review. I tell you what though -- I just watched that movie Last House On Dead End Street and JEEEESUS did it live up to the hype. It is absolutely CREEPY AS HELL. To be honest, I found Last House On The Left a bit disappointing (though I loved David Hess and that porno guy Fred Something), so I didn't expect this one to be any good. But it is GOOD. The music, the nonstop giggling of the murderers and just the whole low-budget vibe. YECH! It really feels and looks like they're murdering these people! But back to the review that nobody wants to write.

The mix is pretty crappy - everything has reverb all over it and the guitars all sound like they were recorded through an amp placed inside an aluminum garbage can. A slight delay on the vocals (and none on the lead guitar) further hiss and white noise up the recording. Londey LaLarr is still churning out buckets of wickedass finger plickety fretwork in and around the chords, but everything in the mix sounds so jarring, echoed, reverbed and ugly that you'll be wont to shake the radio to get the buzzing flies out. Still, they should take pride in the fact that they maintain their unbelievably speedy, aggressive tone through an entire second record. I'm telling you --- that LaLonde character REALLY plays his note sequences quickly. Check out "March To Die," for example. That is one angry diddler!

What's that? No no, I'm not referring to Barbara Bush caught masturbating. Ha ha! What have you gone and done?

But wait, the songwriting isn't ALL peaches and pink lilypads. For one thing, a few of the tracks seem to drag a bit ("No Will To Live" would be one of the most vicious attacks on the record if it didn't last for fucking nine years), a couple are wussed out by keyboards (what on Earth is up with the Dio-on-pansies "Intro"!?), the midtempo sections travel beyond Dullsville all the way to Honestly Vomitous Estates (especially in "Phantasm," a dead ringer for Blind Illusion's "The Sane Asylum"), and too many of the thrash attacks are ad hominem. So if you love "ad hominem attacks," be su

All in every, the record has many moments of headblowing anger-thrash rivalling anything on Seven Elevens ("Restless Dead," "The Beasts Of The Apocalypse" and "The Heretic" = !!!), but the messy mid-80s mix and increased percentage of nondescript passages render it a bit less stellar than its stellar predecessor, the stellar Church's Chicken.

Still, I love the album and give it a 6 out of 6.

(Those four blank circles are just visiting from the Tori Amos page)

Oh! Also, the lyrics are all yawny Satan stuff. Here are a couple of good couplets from "The Heretic" though: "Tie the knots With Satan's twine/Necromancy will define/Rule the world with iron fist/Heaven above will non-exist"


Sorry about the caps lock. For a second there, I thought I was sending myself a reader comment.

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The Eyes Of Horror EP - Combat 1987
Rating = 7

Your snobbery is incredible. All I did was pass a little gas into the microphone at the Pope's funeral. I really had to toot, and I thought it would be funny to blame it on gaseous maggots eating the Pope's internals. If you can't see the humor in that, then what kind of relationship do you think we're going to have over the long term? I tell you one thing right now -- I'm NOT going to stop wearing this Bert & Ernie bib at high-class social functions just because of a few Spaghetti-o stains. If that's what you want from me, then you've picked the wrong man. I'm nobody's conformist and if you're looking for a guy whose pants don't have a hole that one of his nuts dangles out of, maybe you should look for your Prince Charming somewhere else.

This is the final Possessed EP and it's entitled These Eyes. The first track starts with a smooth jazzy organ and Burton Cummings singing, "These eyes/Cry every night/For you./These arms/long to hold you/again./The hurtin's on me (yeah)/I would never be free (nah nah nah)/You made a promise to me (yeah)/And you broke it. You broke it./These eyes/Are crying./These eyes have seen a lot of love but they're never gonna see another woman like I had with you." Then Larry LaLonde starts TEARIN' IT UP!!!! (Biddly biddly biddly BWEEEE!)

The production is much stronger on this one thanks to world-famous guitar playing man Joe Satriani manning the boards. And the songs are straightforward early-Slayer-esque thrash attacks. That same sort of super-speedy chord-chord-chord-a few notes-chord-chord-chord-a few notes songwriting that is really easy to enjoy if your head is banging up and down, but which upon closer inspection reveals itself to be completely stereotypical of the genre. Very few of these riffs are memorable and there's nothing here they haven't done before. If there were more than five songs, the energy would almost certainly peter out, but for "Five Songs Only!," it works. It works quite well, thanks.

Check out this song I wrote this morning while walking Henry The Dog. It's called "Sperm":

My favorite whale
Swims all around
like a garbage pail!

And then there's a really long chorus encompassing 14 different languages. I also wrote a song called "If You Don't Eat My Meat, It Won't Make Any Pudding," but both Roger Waters and Bill Cosby stopped me on the sidewalk to threaten lawsuits if I continued humming it, so I had to forget how it went. FRIG! I DAIRE!

The title track and "Confessions" have some pretty catchy speedy note-chord lick-riffs (the title track also has two fantastic guitar solos to take note of -- and I HATE guitar solos, so trust me on this one!)(unless you like guitar solos, in which case you'll probably hate these because they're not boring) and the FAST part of "Storm In My Mind" is dizzyingly pendulumic, but the slow parts are crap and the other two songs sound like the drummer started playing and the guitarists just made up a "thrash riff" as they went so as not to waste valuable studio time (remember - "Time" is "Money." So if you're "On The Run," remember to "Breathe" so you don't get "Brain Damage" and wind up playing in "The Gre

Possessed clearly had more than enough talent to write and play wickedly obsessive, sickeningly unique and blindingly fast hooks of note-confusion, so why did they so often fall back on what essentially amounts to the "12 bar blues" of speed metal? Just basic old sleepytime jigga-jigga-jigga with like two chords. Up your ass, Walter Mondale!

I apologize for the unwarranted attack on Walter Mondale. I just personally feel that he did nothing but bring this band down. I still remember all those times during rehearsal when Larry would come up with some amazing lightning-speed conglomerate of twisted notes, only to have Walter Mondale phone in from Democratic Party Headquarters to request that he "keep it simple" and "Vote Mondale." Thanks for ruining the world's greatest band, Walter Mondale. Why don't you go back to licking Ferraro's beef flaps like we're paying you to do?

Oh hell, did I say "beef flaps"? Jesus, that's both gross and misogynist. I of course meant to use the feminist-friendly term "drooping sticky fish-stinking entrance to the semen commode."

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