All interviews conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: July 17, 2015
Possessed has been my life since we first formed the band in 1982. When I first met Mike Torrao and Mike Sus they were just two guys playing in Mike's garage. They approached me and asked if I would play bass and sing for them and of course I jumped at the opportunity. One thing I had to do and fought hard for was bringing along my long-time friend and band mate Larry Lalonde. Both Larry and I had been playing together professionally since we were very young and it just felt natural to keep him in the fold. I also brought along my previous manager Debbie Abono and approximately six months later we were signed to Combat and touring. To be honest we were all very young back then and the only thing we wanted was to be the fastest, heaviest and most evil band out there. Thrash, Speed and Black Metal were starting to come into the scene but we felt that Possessed should be even heavier and darker and decided to call ourselves "Death Metal" to prove our point. I even wrote lyrics for a song which was named "Death Metal" so that everybody would know that Possessed was a "Death Metal" band. To be honest I thought that Possessed would be the only "Death Metal" band out there and that is what people would know us as. At first many people didn't understand or appreciate what we were trying to do. Many people would laugh at us and even walk out on our shows. But in time more and more people along with the continued support of our friends and core supporters started catching on and really liking what we were doing. Eventually other Death Metal bands started up and Death Metal actually became a genre of music both to our amazement and appreciation. True metalheads didn't like what was going on with all the Glam/Hair bands springing up at that time and Possessed was the absolute opposite of those types of bands and at the same time showed reverence to heavier Punk and Metal ideals. Those were unbelievable times to say the least and even though the first round of Possessed only lasted a few short years I truly believe that we made a lasting impression on the Metal scene. Of course today there are so many Death Metal bands and hopefully Death Metal will live forever in the hearts and minds of all true metalheads. Seven Churches was my first album and really was key to defining what Possessed still is today. Even since our reformation in 2006 and as we start to write our newest material we hold these ideals true and will never "sell out" or do anything but play the heaviest music we possibly can.
Foreword by Jeff Becerra of Possessed on April 23rd 2015
Luxi: What are your first memories of Possessed's Seven Churches album after you first heard it?
Bob Bagchus (SOULBURN): I was sitting at my friend's place and we borrowed the Seven Churches album from our local library for 1 Dutch guilder (a week's rent) and we put it on the record player in my living room and we could not believe what we were hearing! We thought it was Venom played at 45 rpm or Slayer getting a lot more brutal all of the sudden! Anyway, my dad was also there and he asked us to turn off this satanic noise. He thought we might resurrect some demons!
We finished our drinks and went to my bedroom and started listening to it there and we were blown away, not only by the extremely brutal and fast music which also sounded incredibly heavy, but also by the brilliant and over the top brutal voice of Jeff Becerra. We were totally impressed by the dark satanic atmosphere on Seven Churches. A few weeks later I bought the album for myself. It is still my favorite Death Metal album of all time.
Stephan Gebédi (THANATOS): I remember being in touch and trading demo tapes with guitarist Mike Torrao even before Seven Churches was released. I sent him the first Thanatos tapes and he sent me Possessed demo tapes and rehearsals. I remember hearing stuff like "Swing of the Axe" and "Death Metal" for the first time. When Seven Churches finally came out I was totally blown away by the songs and the intensity of the album. I remember being infuriated about the mediocre review it got in Holland's leading Metal magazine Aardschok; I was totally pissed.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): To be honest, I thought it was quite sloppy and noisy. It took a little while to appreciate the style they had but it eventually grew on me.
Don of the Dead (NUNSLAUGHTER): It was and still is what I compare other bands to if they decide to use the "Death Metal" label. This album, above all others, solidified what Death Metal is and should be. Jeff once said something to the effect of; in Death Metal you can sing about death or Satan, we choose to sing about both.
Thomas Pioli (THEVETAT/DESTRO RECORDS): Well, this is a classic Metal album and it brings back many awesome memories for me. I remember wanting to dig deeper and deeper into underground Metal during the 80's. I already had been surrounded by the sounds of Metallica, Exodus, Anthrax, Slayer, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and so on. It was the best thing since having my first taste of alcohol! Most of the bands playing this style were doing something fresh and unique. It made sense to search out more. Friends and I would always check the local record stores and pick up cassettes. Back then you had to rely on magazines and word of mouth since there was no Internet at the time. One thing led to another and the band Possessed came to mind. I bought Seven Churches and Death's Scream Bloody Gore the same day. I craved the unorthodox. The second I hit play the songs jumped out at me with riffs from hell and vocals that were abrasive, throaty, and haunting. And the chaotic drumming. And the wild leads. The song structures and arrangements were so catchy and dark; it quite simply demanded attention. The intro alone gives me chills! It's just an album that is absolutely timeless.
Patrick Ranieri (HELLWITCH): It was the GODDEST thing ever!!! The production was soooo GREAT and clear! And the new songs that we had never heard were sooo uphill! It was a game changer, for sure!
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): 30 years is a long time and the mind can be a fantastic storyteller but my first recollection of Possessed's Seven Churches was from the film Trick or Treat. I recall Skippy from Family Ties browsing his album collection and he passed over an album with a large Possessed logo and an inverted cross and Seven Churches simply stated beneath. What was this? Was it just a made up album for the movie to scare parents about Heavy Metal or was it real and could I possibly find this at Camelot Music and what might it sound like? I will indulge in my geezer-like tendencies and bemoan the Internet and instant access to information but in my day, before CDs existed and when cassettes cost you $12 (which was about 3 months savings for me at the time), it took years for me to track down the album but there is where I began the quest, like Indiana Jones searching for the Lost Ark. I can also remember the day, many years later, when I discovered this cassette at a pawn shop and paid $1 for it. Those happy days, not my first kiss or my first home run in baseball, are the ones I remember from my childhood and it was fate that led me to the shop at that particular moment. Before the Internet there was a sense of adventure and more appreciation when you finally found something. You didn't just go to Google and steal the album, previewing each song for 10 seconds while reading that the band was a bunch of 16-year-old dorks being managed by their mom and taking guitar lessons from Joe Satriani or whatever. You saved, you searched and when you finally bought the music you listened to it over and over again, day after day, studying every aspect of the sound. I had no idea who Possessed were or where they were from so of course I assumed that they were demons incarnate that created a whirlwind of madness and evil that sounded like they must have traveled to hell and back to bring us the experience of hell itself.
Hatred (THY SERPENT'S CULT): The very first memory that comes in mind about the Seven Churches album is from the year 1988 when one of my earliest school mates came to the class room and said to me, "do you like Death Metal?" I told him of course I did and then he kept telling me his father had bought an odd record at some local store that had a bargain sale but he couldn't remember what it was. He only remembered that it had a song with that title on the cover or something. Anyway, I asked him to record that album on tape for me. Up to this very day Seven Churches still impresses the hell out of me. Its sound and rawness are just unmatched.
Costa Stoios (IRON PEGASUS RECORDS): It is such a long ago but I remember thinking "what an impressive sound" and "how the hell can anybody sing like this?!" The mix of a massive guitar wall and killer production plus the bestial vocals of Jeff was really groundbreaking! It is the blueprint for Death's Scream Bloody Gore, an album I worship as much as Seven Churches! I liked how Seven Churches started with the intro and then an inferno broke loose! I also thought the church bells of "Fallen Angel" were really dark and heavy!!
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): I loved it; totally ripping badassery! I'd already heard the demo and seen them live and when the album came out it was an exciting thing and did not disappoint.
Toni (WORTHLESS): I heard Seven Churches for the first time on a friend's cassette tape when we were drinking beer in the woods at the age of thirteen. It blew my mind immediately.
John McEntee (INCANTATION): The first time I heard it I was totally taken aback by how evil it was. There was just something rawer and darker then anything I had heard before. They were really pushing the limits of darkness in music. It probably took me about a month of listening to it almost every day to really understand it. But once I did I was hooked and it was one of those events in life when you know your calling. Mine was dark, aggressive Death Metal!!!
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): I heard a couple of songs from the album at our local youth club where they arranged a Metal club (or "Metal Disco" as we said in Wolfsburg back then) once a week. It must have been in late 1985 or early 1986. I was immediately struck by the brutality and aggression of the songs. Later on I received a couple of cassettes from a friend and on one was the Seven Churches album. I listened to that cassette a lot back then so in the end I went to the record store in my hometown to buy the album.
Zhema Rodero (VULCANO): Well, a friend knocked at my door and said "you need to listen to this!" and few minutes later my ears were being bombarded by "Pentagram", "Evil Warriors", "Holy Hell", etc. Unfortunately, I never got my hands on a vinyl copy just a cassette. In Brazil it was very hard to get vinyl back in those days. Then I came across the song titles and noticed one thing; these guys had a song called "Fallen Angel" just like we did, dammit! The song "Death Metal" had a very strong impact on us. Later we used this song as inspiration and wrote our own Death Metal song that appears on the Bloody Vengeance album from 1986, although we had totally different songs and themes on that particular album.
Julkarn (GRAVEYARD): Honestly, I'm not sure I even understood it. It must have been 1988 or 1989 when I was a teenager and already knew bands like Celtic Frost, Venom, Slayer and Kreator, but I was completely blown away by the brutality of the music. And the vocals; oh man, that voice seemed to come straight from the pits of hell. I had never heard a band that could make such evil sounding music. It truly was the beginning of something although at that time I didn't even know what that was.
Kena Strömsholm (FESTERDAY): I remember holding the record in my hands for the first time when I got introduced to the album by an older Heavy Metal dude who lived next door to me. I have no idea where he bought it but one thing was for sure; this kind of LP was not to be found at the local music store in the mid 80's. Anyway, I decided to copy it on tape immediately. A few years later, when my neighbor "dropped out" of Metal, he gave the LP to me and I still have it on my shelf.
Eduardo Lane (NERVOCHAOS): I heard it for the first time around '89 and it blew me away. The aggression and the insane lyrics changed my point of view forever. I instantly became a fan of the band and of their musical style.
Patrick González (WORSHIP DEATH): Well, the excellent intro of "The Exorcist" told me that something dark and evil could be expected and I was right. I was impressed by the intensity and power that Seven Churches had, with its different aura like those classic records have. I knew then that this album was very special.
Kimmo Korkala (TORTURE PULSE): I got it in a tape trade. It was on the B-side with Exodus on the A-side. I didn't really get into it at first but instead of rewinding I kept coming back to it. There was some morbid fascination for sure. At that time it sounded too "messy" for me but I also hated Venom back then...
Anton Reisenegger (PENTAGRAM CHILE): I think I got an advance tape with three songs and I thought it was the best thing in the world. I had heard "Swing of the Axe" on the Metal Massacre compilation but they managed to step it up a few notches. Funny but the recording on the tape I got was faster than the album (probably some dodgy dual tape deck or something) so when I got the vinyl I was a bit disappointed at first, but that didn't last for long, ha ha!
Mors Dalos Ra (NECROS CHRISTOS): I'm still feeling unworthy to write some phrases about nothing less than the grand Old Testament of the Metal of Death. I remember being absolutely absorbed by Seven Churches when listening to it for the first time and it sent shivers like lighting bolts down my spine. I bought the record from one of my favorite record stores back in 1988, as I remember. It was a little bit after its original year of release but is it ever too late to get hold of the mass recorded on it? No, never.
Venus Torment (RIPPER): I was 12 years old when I first heard Possessed and found it to be terrifying and surprising at the same time. Even being a part of the Internet generation I never thought something like that existed. I remember that Possessed, along with Sarcófago and Sadistic Intent, came to Chile in 2007 (I was 12 years old). I didn't live in Santiago and being so young it was impossible for me to make such a long trip so I stayed in my bedroom with the lights out listening to Possessed, Sarcófago, Dark angel, Razor, and other bands. I was blown away by Seven Churches. Luckily, I had the chance to see Possessed in 2013 when they came back to Chile. They played their most memorable song, "Seven Churches" and some of their other classic songs like "Beyond the Gates" and "The Eyes of Horror". It was brilliant!
Peso (NECRODEATH): Seven Churches was a true kick-in-the-face album for me. It marked the beginning of satanic Death Metal. It was a different album in many ways compared to Venom, Metallica, Slayer and many German Thrash Metal bands in those days. There was something magical to that record. It certainly influenced Necrodeath a lot when we started. Seven Churches is absolutely a masterpiece and a must for knowing your roots (in case you have ever loved extreme Metal).
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): When I saw them live for the first time their performance was just pure old school brutality with catchy riffs. No need for blast beats at that time because this album was all about having real songs. A song like "Satan's Curse" is still one of the coolest and most brutal Death Metal songs ever!
Janne Kosonen (NECROPSY): My first memory of Possessed's debut album is that my brother Tero brought the album on cassette. It was mind-blowing stuff when I first heard it. I didn't realize why it sounded so different and so good as I was only ten or eleven years old. I wasn't aware of many other little things either, ha ha! It was the summer of 1987 when I got my first guitar and I was forced to go to my stepfather's place on summer vacation with my mom and I remember listening to Seven Churches for a whole week over and over again. Later I heard that my ex-stepfather told my mom that Tero and I were Satan worshippers when we listened to that kind of music.
Paul Ray (FALSE PROPHET): I can remember the intro to "The Exorcist" grabbing my attention right away. And if that wasn't enough there was the backwards talking leading into "Pentagram" and the onslaught began. The shear evil and brutality, along with the speed, was pure magic to my ears. By the time I had listened to the whole album I was a fan. I loved hearing these songs and the name of the band fit perfectly since they played like they were possessed. This was definitely one of the first bands that were a really big influence on me and what would later on become False Prophet. This was my introduction to the world of satanic Death Metal and has remained with me all these years.
Jeremy Golden (HEAVEN AND HELL RECORDS): I was nine years old when that album came out and back then I was all about Journey and Duran Duran. I cannot be one of those guys my age who pretend that they were into such bands when they came out (laughs). That being said, Seven Churches was not my first exposure to Possessed; I actually had to go back to that album. When I finally heard the album it only confirmed the impression from my first exposure to the band. At that point in my life Possessed would define dark, brutal and evil Heavy Metal, everything those Christian propaganda books helped to introduce me to because they sure as hell weren't doing much to steer me away from Heavy Metal.
Paul Johansson (SORCERY): It's the intro on the album; it's so majestic and evil. Along with the melodic part in "The Exorcist" it really got into my head when I first heard it.
Cronis (TO THE DEATH RECORDS): The first time I heard Possessed must have been on the Speed Kills album, the compilation that started the whole arms race for me and my comrades. After that there was no turning back...
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I thought it was the most evil sounding music put on record along with their second album Beyond the Gates which I had heard before Seven Churches. I was also familiar with The Eyes of Horror EP which I think suffered from a too clean production, thanks to Joe Satriani. Seven Churches has such a gloomy aura to it and some immortal riffs like the very eerie and morbid sounding "The Exorcist". I was always very impressed by the harsh, ripping vocals of Jeff Becerra. I was a huge Slayer fan - still am of the first three albums - and I remember thinking Slayer should have vocals like that! Soon I went out and "wrote" Possessor on a snow pile near our home street as the name of my new band (laughs). The band names came and went before we formed Phlegethon in '88.
Ryan Förster (BLASPHEMY): A friend of mine bought the album and gave me a high recommendation. I went out and bought the cassette version on Canada's Banzai Records. It had the famous "Speed Metal" logo on the cover so I knew that I couldn't go wrong. Of course as soon as I put it in the tape player and the first riffs came in after the intro I was totally blown away!
Pablo Sexton (UNBLESSED): The first time I heard the record was during my adolescence. At the time I used to listen to a lot of Thrash Metal and the world of Death Metal was still a recent discovery to me with bands such as Death and Obituary. Those genres blew my mind at the time and to me Possessed's Seven Churches was the missing link between them. I hadn't heard that mixture of speed and aggressiveness before and not in bands that came after them.
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): My Seven Churches virgin run took place at my friend Ville's place. I visited him quite frequently when I was in high school, because he was a cool dude with an enormous collection of Black, Death and Doom Metal. I mean, the guy literally had almost every single release that the underground 'zines were writing about as well as the older classics.
One day he put on Possessed's Seven Churches. I distinctly remember staring at the cover while listening to the album and thinking that these guys sound like Venom. I was into Mike Oldfield and The Exorcist movie so the opening track had a special impact on me.
Luxi: The album cover simply has the Possessed logo on the top and the album name below. Back then many Metal bands wanted album covers to be striking and eye-catching but Possessed counted on the power of their logo and let that do the talking. What were your initial thoughts about the cover of Seven Churches? How about the guys on the back cover with their very satanic posing?
Bob Bagchus (SOULBURN): I really think that the Seven Churches cover is one of the best and darkest covers in the history of Death Metal and Metal in general. It was the red logo with the white inverted cross which really impressed and still does. Just looking at that cover you know it is a very satanic and extremely dark, brutal album. The backside of it confirms it 100%! I think the photos show what Possessed was all about back then. The big inverted cross, the blood, the intensity; this is an album that is perfect from start to finish.
Stephan Gebédi (THANATOS): It impressed the hell out of me. I was particularly fascinated by their studded wristbands, which were so over the top. I had to get one made like that as well, ha ha!! The logo with the inverted cross on the album cover is really strong and I really dug their over-the-top attitude on the back cover. I think a lot of bands did their best to copy those pictures afterwards.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): Having always been a dude that focused on the music and left artwork to other people throughout my musical career, I thought the cover was just fine! Simple and powerful.
As for the spikes and inverted crosses, I don't think anyone really thought these guys were Satanists. It was obviously a combination of Venom and horror movies that inspired their image and lyrics anyway, but it looked cool!
Don of the Dead (NUNSLAUGHTER): It is perfect and to the point. I remember seeing the cover across the record store and before I even knew who Possessed was I knew I had to buy that record. That is what makes for great cover art.
People have tried to emulate the single shots on the back cover (myself included). It is dramatic to have fire, blood and inverted crosses. It is a standard to which other bands aspire.
Thomas Pioli (THEVETAT/DESTRO RECORDS): Yes, I agree. The non-technicality of the cover, the "less is more" approach worked well. There was something so brutal about the logo itself along with title that made you say "I need to hear this." Black and red are naturally an angry color schematic so it made you wonder how devastating this thing really was and it delivers to the fullest extant. The image (on the back) also added to the mystery.
Patrick Ranieri (HELLWITCH): Ahhh....it WAS a simple cover, BUT the lettering on Seven Churches was RAISED! NO ONE had done that in underground Metal before! I thought it was very unique and classy! And the back photo was GREAT! Satanic imagery was/is a great thing! The more evil, the better I thought.
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): The cover made it more mysterious to me, like the cover of Bathory's The Return (even though a picture of moon seems commonplace in Black Metal now, at the time it caused some confusion). Those two albums definitely take me back in time to when the musicians in Metal bands were larger than life. A cartoon, pencil-drawing wouldn't have done those albums justice. The cassette versions didn't have any pictures, just the black album covers and a white inlay. I had to have the cassette versions because being brought up in a typical American, protestant family during an age of paranoia about satanic cults and Heavy Metal, I had to hide my more extreme tapes to prevent them from being confiscated. It was much more difficult to hide a 12" vinyl sleeve. I don't know if Seven Churches comes from anything like The Book of Revelations or some H.P. Lovecraft story but the title is enough to give you a chill, if you suspend disbelief, or simply suspend your intellect and adulthood. Titles like that really do it for me, especially if they just made it up because it sounded cool. That should be the standard for that type of Metal; not historical accuracy or proximity to the translation of the ancient texts, but rather, does it sound cool and does it send a chill up your spine.
Hatred (THY SERPENT'S CULT): I have no idea if their original plan was to get the kind of cover artwork for Seven Churches that they eventually got. They could well have used some sort of picture on the cover but it did not happen that way. However, it's the music on Seven Churches, with the production and song arrangements, which mattered most to me and not fancy cover artwork. But every time I looked at the cover artwork (both front and back) and saw the upside-down crosses, blood-soaked and satanic symbols and shit, I understood why they used just the band logo and the other images, ha ha ha!!!
Costa Stoios (IRON PEGASUS RECORDS): The power of the logo was enough to make it all look impressive! That and the embossed Seven Churches writing which I guess Possessed took from Venom's Black Metal album. A dark band and a black sleeve with a burning logo; you don't need much more to make it look evil. I always liked Jeff's photo on the back cover, it was the most brutal one of them all. The photo fits his voice like a glove! Back in the day not many bands posed like this so that was something that made a big impression on me.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): From what I understand there was supposed to be some sort of artwork that didn't get used for some reason. I'm not sure what the story is with that but the basic black cover worked just fine and didn't detract from the blazing insanity contained within. As for the photos, they are great! How often do you get to see someone bite a drumstick until it bleeds? Seriously, it's a classic all the way around and I have it on vinyl, cassette and CD!
Toni (WORTHLESS): My first reaction was "wow, fucking great!" I mean the logo, the colors and the simplicity! All of their evil posing on the back cover looked reaaaaally cool in the eyes of a young kid but these days they look a little naive. ;o)
John McEntee (INCANTATION): I thought it was very in-your-face evil when I was a kid looking at it in the record store! I had the feeling these guys were the real deal! Between the logo with the inverted cross on the front and the photos on the back it just reeked of total satanic darkness.
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): Of course a cool painting on an album cover that you can sit with and look at while you listen to the music is always cool, but in this case the great band logo was enough I think. The burning logo and the upside down cross; it's a really fantastic logo. Later I heard a story that Possessed had a cover for the album but the record company refused to print it because it was too brutal. But that is probably just a rumor. The pictures of the band members on the back of the cover surely inspired a generation of headbangers to pose in an evil way either at concerts or when there was a camera around.
Zhema Rodero (VULCANO): I only appreciated the cover of the album Seven Churches some time after I first saw it because I had a cassette tape only.
The front cover of Seven Churches already gave you a message of pretty extreme Metal but it was the back cover that offered the hammer to our foreheads. Jeff, with all those inverted crosses, and Mike the drummer, looking like a wild Neanderthal, made the difference.
The front cover with the Possessed logo, inverted cross and devilish tail all carry power in our subliminal minds and they speak their evil and twisted language.
On the other hand, for a Brazilian guy like me back in 1985 who could not buy a T-shirt the album cover was very easy to paint by hand. ;)
Julkarn (GRAVEYARD): I think the logo works really well. It looks evil and dangerous without being cheesy and gives the impression that the music it represents is something that must be taken seriously. Then you see the guys on the back and that feeling of having found four guys who consider their music and message to be really serious is vastly increased. The only thing I never liked was the "Japanese" font chosen for the name of the album. Seven Churches is such an evocative name but with the karate-looking font it loses some of its power in my opinion.
Kena Strömsholm (FESTERDAY): Having the logo along with the big inverted cross on the cover surely was an eye-catcher, an astonishing cover even in these days, but the shock to our parents came when you flipped it over. This was not the first time I was introduced to satanic imagery via music but surely one of the first times getting both the extreme sound and the satanic imagery in the same package. Possessed were already in the early stages of planting the seeds that would later turn into the Death and Black Metal phenomena.
Eduardo Lane (NERVOCHAOS): I agree with your point of view but I really dig that simple but extremely effective front cover. When I started in METAL I was more focused on the album covers but around '89 I didn't care as much about it and I was more focused on the music itself. Possessed surely delivered it on Seven Churches.
Patrick González (WORSHIP DEATH): The cover seems perfect for the record because the logo says a lot about the style and attitude of Possessed. Maybe a more blasphemous cover would have been better but I can no longer imagine a different cover for Seven Churches.
When I saw the cover for first time I was bewitched by the logo's inverted cross and flames striking out of the Possessed logo. When we are young those things have a lot of impact.
The photos on this album are magnificent; an excellent complement to the music and the lyrics. These images are some of my favorite pictures in Metal in general. Sometimes bands look ridiculous with stupid poses and stuff but with Possessed it was different. They looked very convincing in all those pictures on the back cover of Seven Churches.
Kimmo Korkala (TORTURE PULSE): Of course I didn't have the cover with my dubbed cassette tape but I can give you a more updated opinion. With a logo like that you just can't go wrong. It leaves a lot of room for your imagination. KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid. I must say that I adore the poster gatefold cover of Beyond the Gates but the first strike was a good, simple choice. Or lack of money. And those pictures are timeless classics.
Anton Reisenegger (PENTAGRAM CHILE): I think it was a great decision on their part because the logo was absolutely fantastic and it basically said all you needed to know about the band! And it was like a statement "this is us and we don't want anything to distract from the music". As for the photos on the back well, being a very impressionable young man, I thought they looked really brutal and dangerous!
Mors Dalos Ra (NECROS CHRISTOS): I think the cover was reason I first took it in hand. The logo, the blackness and the letters of the title seem to glow red with hellish flames. After so many years/decades, I can't imagine any other cover that could have suited Seven Churches better. I was addicted to everything on it and still am today.
Venus Torment (RIPPER): Just with the flaming logo and the diabolical tail they were able to convey darkness but with a sense of mysticism at the same time. Looking at those photos you could tell they wanted to show us elements of corruption, opposition and such and their music mirrored it perfectly.
Peso (NECRODEATH): I've never really cared much about pictures, I only cared for the music on that fantastic record. Seven Churches has something truly meaningful and important for musicians like me that started to play extreme Metal back in the day. My favorite picture of them is the one where they are near the sea on some rocks (that particular picture can be found on the back cover of The Eyes of Horror M-LP - Luxi).
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): The album cover of Seven Churches looks absolutely crushing, even today. Afterward German thrashers like Sodom, Kreator, Destruction or Celtic Frost (from Switzerland – ed.) also tried out similar shock values on their album covers. What was created on Seven Churches was a whole new genre, a new kind of extreme-sounding Metal music. Those pictures used on Seven Churches were also a pretty brutal in their own unique way.
Janne Kosonen (NECROPSY): It is the coolest logo ever. I said it to my 6-year old son when I wore my Possessed logo t-shirt. Later he asked me which band had the coolest logo, Necropsy or the t-shirt that I was wearing. I had to choose Possessed's. It's got something magical to it. I think that the cover is exquisite in its simplicity. Maybe Possessed trusted their music so much back then that they wanted to keep the Seven Churches album cover simple? I've never warmed up to those "satanic" photos though. I remember Tero made a Possessed logo template we painted our t-shirts and leather jackets. It took him a long time and gladly everything is much easier nowadays.
Paul Ray (FALSE PROPHET): I'm sure at the time that cover was a gutsy move but the Possessed logo was awesome by itself. The flames, inverted cross, devil's tail and all that in blood red on a black cover was just badass. It was a very powerful cover to me. I applaud the simplistic approach. As for the back of the album, I loved it. The band pictures were just awesome; inverted crosses all over their clothing and Jeff holding the upside down cross on fire. It definitely got my attention. Add the song titles and this was an album I had to get. With titles like "The Exorcist", "Pentagram" and "Satan's Curse" how could you go wrong? The satanic imagery and song titles made me want this album even before hearing it. Needless to say I was not disappointed.
Jeremy Golden (HEAVEN AND HELL RECORDS): Did the band really want just the logo as the cover image or was it a Spinal Tap situation? The simple logo on the cover did work; it said nothing, yet enough. It allowed one's imagination to wonder what that album might be. There was an unknown element to the cover that begged the question "what is this?"
Of course, you flipped the album over and you saw pictures of the band basically posing and looking as goofy as many other bands did back then. Perhaps they were presented not as horrific as W.A.S.P. or gothy/glam as Shout at the Devil period Mötley Crüe but still they came off as characters of sorts with the satanic additions to their image.
Paul Johansson (SORCERY): That's the reason it was so interesting. My first thought was "what's this?" The upside cross and the tail in the logo did give a little hint that this must be evil. And if you flip it you have your thoughts confirmed; this is the real shit.
Cronis (TO THE DEATH RECORDS): The Seven Churches front/Possessed logo is iconic to say the least. It is one of the most striking logos ever! Sadly I can't remember much about my initial thought. It was probably that it was extremely cool but then everything was cool at that age.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I can't say that I remember. It very well could have been that at the time I was thinking the front cover was a bit boring yet I have to admit its evil simplicity appealed to me. It definitely grew on me. The back cover photos are classic! I think I found them a bit funny yet exciting at the same time.
Ryan Förster (BLASPHEMY): That logo fills the imagination with evil thoughts without even hearing the music! It's a bold statement having a huge inverted cross on your album cover especially in 1985! Shitty Banzai Records was so cheap. If I recall there were no band photos in the cassette layout! I didn't see those now-infamous band photos until I found the Banzai LP version a little later. The cassette was so low grade that it would make squeaking noises after about 100 plays, hence my switch to the LP version.
Pablo Sexton (UNBLESSED): As a metalhead I have always admired the bands that manage to take a step out of the proverbial box in terms of music and visuals. That album cover shows exactly what the band is all about. A dark background, an upside down cross, a demon's tail and the logo on fire. That kind of imagery is bound to catch your eye if you're into extreme music. Their posture in the back cover of the album is completely badass. Who hasn't taken a picture like that with their friends or band members? It clearly states the message that they're in it for the passion, that they live for what they do. Besides, satanic imagery is always welcome.
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): Not too many bands were using inverted crosses back then. At that time I thought the Satanic imaginary was somewhat scary. As far as the actual graphic is concerned, I thought - and still do - that the inverted cross is out of balance and doesn't work that well as a graphic element. I've always been more of a pentagram and a "tombstone cross" guy.
Anyhoo, black and red are my favorite colors. The cover surely induced mixed emotions. I don't recall the back cover photo, though.
Luxi: How did Seven Churches change your view about Heavy Metal music in general when you first heard it? Were you floored by all the brutality and extremity of Seven Churches' songs?
Bob Bagchus (SOULBURN): It was clear to me that Metal was dividing into genres like "normal" Heavy Metal, Speed/Thrash Metal and now Death Metal. Upcoming bands were more extreme than their Motörhead/Venom influences.
Possessed's Seven Churches was THE most brutal and extreme album from that era and, in my humble opinion, still is one of the most brutal, extreme and dark Death Metal albums in the whole history of Heavy Metal. I really doubt there will ever be a more brutal album released by any band in the future. No, I am actually certain that nothing, NOTHING can top the intensity that Possessed have on Seven Churches. This album had the impact of a nuclear bomb and the impression it had/has on me was/is unbelievable! It is also part of my greatest memories too; my years in high school trying to convince some of my school friends to become metalheads, etc., etc. The songs on Seven Churches are in a league of their own. The intro to "The Exorcist" was an indication of what to expect from the whole album; satanic darkness and musical brutality like never heard before. The spoken intro to "Pentagram" came straight out of hell and the riff sliding in with the three hi-hat counts followed by a brutal mid-tempo struck me! It was so great! The great growl in "Evil Warriors" was not of this earth!! Jeff's vocals are still THE best in the whole history of Death Metal.
Stephan Gebédi (THANATOS): Definitely! I think Seven Churches was the world's introduction to Death Metal. It's hard to say if Seven Churches is actually the first Death Metal album or if it's Scream Bloody Gore because there's still a lot of Thrash Metal on Seven Churches but it's definitely the first ever "proto-Death Metal" record and it killed everything that came before.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): Once I could understand what was going on musically I was quite impressed by the savagery and speed of the record. Like a lot of classic Black/Thrash drummers back then, you got the feeling that Mike Sus was playing to the absolute extent of his ability (and sometimes beyond it) and that gave it the same chaotic element that gave early Sodom, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost and Destruction that classic feel. Like a train going too fast and in danger of derailing. It definitely helped give me an appreciation of what was eventually called the "necro" style.
Don of the Dead (NUNSLAUGHTER): YES! I knew that this was the band I was waiting for. It is primitive and aggressive with lyrics about topics that interest me. This was what I wanted from music and the direction that would influence me for the rest of my life.
Thomas Pioli (THEVETAT/DESTRO RECORDS): Yes, it came out at a perfect time when Death Metal was at a primal stage. Like I said earlier, it literally opened the gates to a darker side of life, one that is not forced per se, yet cohesive and flowing. I really like the crazy fast riffs and the heavy chords accented with high notes. So much quality. They were killer at pushing the envelope and continued to do so for some years to come despite their initial short tenure.
Patrick Ranieri (HELLWITCH): It demonstrated odd-ball time signatures and "quirky" riffing that I personally picked up on and expanded upon. I recall the odd drum rolls that matched the guitar riffs perfectly were also an innovative feature of their sound. Again, I picked up on that idea and still use it to this day. Yes, I was floored and I'm still on the floor!!! I've been unable to get up since I first heard Seven Churches! It wrecked me in a good way. 666!
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): I'm sure everyone will talk about the Tubular Bells intro to "The Exorcist" and there's no doubt that it was a perfect intro to a classic song. However, "The Exorcist" is one of my least favorite songs on the album because it is so straightforward! But they obviously knew they had a hit with that one. It has a great lyric, great riffs and that main melody but it is a bit too repetitive and without some of the flashes of brilliance that were to come on some of the other songs on the album. I had heard things just as heavy and just as fast by then but what got me hooked on Possessed were the vocals of Jeff Beccera, which to me are just iconic. Nobody sounded more sinister than that. Another thing that stood out for me were the whacked-out guitar parts that they'd throw in at the end of a riff, just some crazy guitar noise or odd-time runs. They'd throw in some crazy, chromatic run that would go by in a blur and it was part of the riff! Most bands reserved that kind of thing for a lead. I imagined it like the flickering of a demon's forked tongue or the dancing of a flame. I thought those parts, for instance throughout the songs "Pentagram" and "Burning in Hell," were inspired and totally original and they were very influential on my writing as well as bands like Morbid Angel or Angel Corpse. No one else really took those types of ideas and expanded on them at the time so that kind of became a genre unto itself.
Hatred (THY SERPENT'S CULT): No other album came even close to that ultimate feeling of evilness that was wrapped around Seven Churches. In all honesty I only enjoyed Seven Churches as their other releases weren't on the same level. Seven Churches basically overshadowed everything else they did with Possessed in my humble opinion.
Costa Stoios (IRON PEGASUS RECORDS): Honestly, it did not change my view about Heavy Metal but it was a proof that Metal could be more extreme. For me it was Venom mixed with Slayer but with a much heavier production and a voice that hasn't been heard since. To this day, Seven Churches remains a unique album in sound and style.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): I ate it up, you know? What else can I say?
Toni (WORTHLESS): In those days we were looking for heavier and heavier bands and Possessed was one of them. Seven Churches showed that Heavy Metal was going in a faster and more brutal direction.
John McEntee (INCANTATION): Hell yes!!!! The first time I played it, it was almost too much to comprehend. It was the darkest, most aggressive and evil album I heard at that point. To be honest I didn't get it at first but something kept drawing me back and I listened to it almost every day for a month. When I finally got it holy crap I got it and I was hooked. To me it's one of the most important albums in my Metal evolution. I know at that point that my destiny was in extreme Metal. Please understand I first heard the album in '85 and there were other satanic bands like Venom, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, Hellhammer, etc. (all great bands) but Possessed was the band that really hit home for me. I think that it had all the seeds of Death Metal before Death Metal was even a sub-genre.
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): Seven Churches must have been the first album with really extreme music that I ever listened to. Sure, I had already heard bands like Venom, Exodus, Metallica and Slayer by the time I heard Seven Churches for the first time but Possessed's debut album was simply the must brutal and merciless piece of vinyl I had heard up to that point. It was this album (along with albums from Celtic Frost, Venom, Kreator, Sodom, etc. of course) that made me want to do brutal and aggressive music myself. If I remember correctly Seven Churches was one of the albums we brought to the studio as a reference for the final mix for our debut EP Misanthropy.
Zhema Rodero (VULCANO): Seven Churches was more brutal than Slayer's Hell Awaits and very different compared to Exodus' Bonded by Blood but those albums were my favorites in '85. I can also say that Seven Churches showed us clearly that Metal can be dirty, robust, energetic and raw and didn't have to stick to the basic concepts of Heavy Metal music. Seven Churches was a huge influence on us when we created our Bloody Vengeance album back in 1986.
Julkarn (GRAVEYARD): Absolutely! I had been listening to Metal music for some years and was already venturing into more extreme sounds. I remember being convinced that Slayer's Reign in Blood and Kreator's Pleasure to Kill were the most brutal recordings ever. I thought nobody would ever be able to surpass those two albums in terms of speed, darkness and evil atmosphere. Then I found Seven Churches and my little musical world was completely blown away. I was also starting to play guitar back then and thought I would never be able to play such fast and evil riffs. To me it sounded like those guys had sold their souls to the devil so they could play such intricate, dark and lightning fast riffs.
Kena Strömsholm (FESTERDAY): For me, Possessed came in the same boat as Venom, Bathory and Slayer. I was introduced to all of these by the same neighbor and was amazed by the sound and speed in the music. I also remember being a bit jealous because at that time my collection of LPs consisted of bands like Black Sabbath, W.A.S.P., Judas Priest, Metallica, Iron Maiden and KISS. This was waaay more extreme! I was a happy chap though, even if I just got copies on tape. I remember being astonished by the songs "Pentagram" and "Death Metal."
Eduardo Lane (NERVOCHAOS): Yes, back then I was a big Thrash Metal fan so Possessed brought to me a whole new dimension of extreme music. Their rawness and brutality really possessed my musical taste and made me move over a more extreme type of music.
Patrick González (WORSHIP DEATH): When I heard Seven Churches for the first time I already knew about the existence of more brutal, heavier and faster records but the difference with this album was the excellent combination of quality, intensity, evilness and heaviness. The amazing voice of Becerra, the excellent solos and riffs, the power of the drums, this is music straight from hell. Nothing is more extreme than Seven Churches though a few bands out there have reached almost the same intensity and brutality that Seven Churches holds inside.
Obviously it is not the same to listen to Seven Churches in 2015 compared to the year it originally came out (1985) because its impact is quite different. However, I think this album is a timeless classic despite the fact it is 30 years old.
Kimmo Korkala (TORTURE PULSE): As I stated before it didn't have that much impact on me at first. A lack of melody and a messy sound weren't for me at the time. At that point I was just getting into more extreme stuff so it took some time for me to open up to it. I kept going back to it even I though I really didn't like it. Maybe it's kind of a portal for me from wimpy stuff to the more brutal approach.
Anton Reisenegger (PENTAGRAM CHILE): Yeah, you could say so. I mean, I was obviously into Metallica, Venom and Slayer but Possessed made the music I wanted to hear and you can totally hear those influences in Pentagram. One of the main elements in their music that appealed to me, apart from the evil, twisted riffs, was Jeff Becerra's vocals. They were brutal, aggressive and somehow desperate at the same time. It sounded as if he was suffering. Absolutely killer!
Mors Dalos Ra (NECROS CHRISTOS): The devil has often uttered his sermon unto us. Here it was transmitted through the unbelievable voice of Jeff Becerra (not to forget his very skilled bass playing) and the riff tornados of Mike Torrao and Larry LaLonde. I was literally dragged into the maelstrom of songs like "The Exorcist", "Satan's Curse", "Holy Hell" or the infamous title track. Nothing sounded so brutal and dark at that time nor do most of the releases under the Death Metal moniker today.
Venus Torment (RIPPER): First of all, your personal point of view about Heavy Metal changes just by listening to Hell Awaits by Slayer and Hellish Crossfire by Iron Angel because both albums are quite dark content wise. Imagine the sharp, powerful voice of Jeff Becerra singing about exorcism and hatred against society like they do in the song "Twisted Minds". "Life is strange, it's one big game, live or dead, it's all the same. Rotting world, so full of clones". Just by listening to this song your vision of Heavy Metal is transformed.
Peso (NECRODEATH): Yes, it definitely changed my view about how extreme Metal could sound although bands like Slayer, Venom and Kreator had already written pretty extreme stuff for their albums. Possessed gave the final touch of evilness to the extreme Metal, I think.
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): The way Seven Churches sounded inspired a whole new generation of musicians, me included. The extremity that Seven Churches had was the birth of a new musical style, full of a new type of emotions.
Janne Kosonen (NECROPSY): I think that the last five years of the eighties changed a lot with regard to underground Metal music. This is a difficult question. First there was Heavy Metal then Speed metal and Thrash and then suddenly Death Metal. Everything happened so fast when you look at those years now. Personally, I liked the fact Possessed and some other bands from those days changed my view about doing a heavier type of music and showed you can do anything that you like within a structure of music. You don't have to follow same forms over and over again.
Paul Ray (FALSE PROPHET): I was totally floored by this album. This was the band that pulled me away from more mainstream Metal and got me hooked on satanic Death Metal. They opened up new possibilities of what kind of music I could be playing. Possessed was pushing the musical boundaries of metal; the blistering rhythms, the blazing notes and the raw sound was incredible. Seven Churches was a masterpiece in my opinion, from the brutal guitars and the intense speed to the lyrical content. It will always be one of my favorites. They definitely made me want to play faster and heavier and sing about the darker things in life. I can definitely say that without Possessed as an influence I would not play and write the music I do.
Jeremy Golden (HEAVEN AND HELL RECORDS): My first exposure to Possessed was The Eyes of Horror EP. I remember that some of the guys I was hanging out with were just starting to get in to Metallica and Megadeth. Metallica I just never felt right about as if I always knew they would one day show their "true colors". Anyway one of those guys had a The Eyes of Horror cassette and he gave it me. I can still hear him saying, "man, you can have that shit" (laughs). I took that cassette home and that first listen was a defining moment in my Metal development. I had never heard anything like that band. Metallica and Megadeth had nothing on Possessed. At the time I had not heard Slayer yet but even they could not compare. Possessed were so goddamn frantic and fast. It was the most evil thing I had ever heard and that is what I was looking for at that time. They made Venom's satanic imagery come off as something from Monty Python. It would not be long after that before I got my hands on a copy of Seven Churches.
Paul Johansson (SORCERY): To go from Metallica, Slayer and Mercyful Fate to Possessed really showed me the way. That was the brutality that I was looking for with a touch of Bathory.
Cronis (TO THE DEATH RECORDS): As I said before the Speed Kills compilation got me into the brutal stuff then I started digging deeper and deeper into the underground. Seven Churches was not an album that I got at once, it actually took a few years for me to get it.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I was already familiar with some of the extreme Metal acts when I discovered Seven Churches so the album wasn't a huge shock. But like I said, it made an impact and I was extremely impressed by the vocals of Jeff Becerra. I think he's one of the best vocalists in extreme Metal ever. He sounds like his throat was being slit. It's so unforced and just downright creepy. The overall atmosphere of Seven Churches is just hair-raising. I find a similar kind of rich, morbid atmosphere on their second album Beyond the Gates, The Return... by Bathory, Hell Awaits by Slayer, and maybe only a few others that I can't think of right now.
Ryan Förster (BLASPHEMY): Seven Churches made us expect more from other bands! We just wanted things to get more brutal and more extreme after hearing that album! Of course some bands took it to the next level a couple years later but mostly I'd buy an album and be disappointed because it didn't measure up to Possessed!
Pablo Sexton (UNBLESSED): In my opinion, Seven Churches stands on its own in the world of Heavy Metal. Back then Satanism had been successfully used by other extreme bands, but the crashing themes on Possessed's first album had a unique atmosphere of chaos, Satanism and violence that hadn't been explored at the time...creativity at its best!
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): I heard the album almost a decade after it was released so there was already lots of grim stuff around including the whole second wave of Black Metal. However, the pioneer status of the album is indisputable and well earned.
Luxi: How important is Seven Churches for you personally and what are the reasons? Does it belong in your personal "Top 10 Most Important Extreme Metal Albums of All Time"?
Bob Bagchus (SOULBURN): As you may have noticed Seven Churches is VERY important to me. I bought it when I was 14 years old, going to high school and being in a state of mind where a lot of things/music had an impact on me. I dare say Possessed's Seven Churches is my favorite Death Metal album of all time. If I had to make a list of my favorite bands/albums of all time (Heavy Metal, Speed/Thrash Metal and Death Metal) Seven Churches would be one of top 5, most definitely!
Stephan Gebédi (THANATOS): Well, it's definitely in my top 5 records of all time, not just top 10 extreme Metal but top 10 or even top 5 in general. I love that album that's for sure. To this day Seven Churches has been a major influence on my songwriting for both Thanatos and Hail of Bullets. We even did a cover version of "Satan's Curse" for the Thanatos Beyond Terror MCD.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): I'm sure it would be up there near the top somewhere on that list due to its extremity and disregard for musical structure. It was fascinating to me how they wrote riffs around Mike Sus' bizarre, off-time drum fills. I'd heard Apocalyptic Raids and In the Sign of Evil so I was used to off-kilter drumming but with Seven Churches they kind of worked it into the arrangements, which was interesting to say the least.
Don of the Dead (NUNSLAUGHTER): I cannot overstate how important this album is to extreme music. Not only was it in-your-face with satanic topics it showcased the fact that Metal music could be primitive and still pack a punch. There were only a hand full of bands at that time that could deliver such sonic hell but Possessed stood head and shoulders above them all.
Thomas Pioli (THEVETAT/DESTRO RECORDS): It's definitely a favorite album of mine, along with Beyond the Gates and The Eyes of Horror. I actually enjoy all their releases equally; however, I will give props to the debut for its crushing production. It's a fantastic Death Metal album with obvious thrash elements that forged a path for many other extreme bands. Currently it appears to be missing from my collection, falling prey to my relocating several times, so obviously a new one is in order soon! The way I see it, any album in my collection that cries for replacement must mean it will keep a flame burning for me eternally!
Patrick Ranieri (HELLWITCH): It's critically important to me for the reasons I've already mentioned as well as many others. The song writing is top notch and the level of originality is unsurpassed for that time. YES, it IS in my top 10 of ALL time!
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): This is going to sound crazy because I know Seven Churches is a better album but my favorite Possessed album is The Eyes of Horror EP. I think the solos were crazier and more original on that one and some of the riffs were so weird and unique that they were not equaled or approached until the release of Blessed Are the Sick. I think some of Seven Churches falls into a category of what might be called "Black/Thrash Metal" and it has almost a Punk vibe rather than a Heavy Metal vibe (such as the song "Death Metal", ironically), whereas The Eyes of Horror was tighter and more "Metal", which I preferred at the time. I have listened to The Eyes of Horror more as well, so it became more of a favorite but as I sit here and listen to Seven Churches now, I'm starting to reconsider. "Satan's Curse" is a great tune! Also another deep album cut that is better than many band's full discography is "Fallen Angel." Put it against another classic from its time. For example, there isn't an Infernäl Mäjesty song off None Shall Defy that comes close to it. I prefer it over Hell Awaits in terms of its influence and also the sound and the songs 30 years later. Possessed is one of the top 10 most important extreme Metal bands of all time and this is the full-length album that made it happen, so yes, this is one of the top 10 most important extreme Metal albums of all time.
Hatred (THY SERPENT'S CULT): Seven Churches is undoubtedly one of the finest pieces of work released back in the 80's, taking a place on many people's top 10 albums lists, no doubt. Seven Churches could be considered a turning point in Heavy Metal music in general as far its extremity, brutal sound, unmatched song arrangements and all the darkness are concerned.
Costa Stoios (IRON PEGASUS RECORDS): The album is special because it still has some of the most brutal and evil vocals ever recorded. Seven Churches is in my top 10 list when it comes to the production and vocals. I like the other Possessed album and MLP as much and perhaps the songwriting is even better on Beyond the Gates but it has such poor production.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): I'd say it's in the top 10 for sure. It's right up there with Reign in Blood without a doubt. As for specifics, give it a listen and you'll know exactly why it kicks so much ass! It's got it all; insane screaming vocals, wild and violent riffs, crazy dive bombing whammy bar leads, out of control drum rolls, over the top lyrics, killer and raw production. It's perfect.
Toni (WORTHLESS): The album has been very important for me. The raw vocals, tempos and a generally rough sound knocked me out! In my opinion Seven Churches is one of the best Death Metal albums ever and definitely belongs on my top 10 Metal albums list.
John McEntee (INCANTATION): Hell yes!!! Seven Churches is without a doubt a top 10 release, if not more of a top 5 or even top 3. For me Possessed is the band that really expressed what I was feeling inside but didn't know how to get out. The overall sound of the album is total darkness and aggression. I really felt that Jeff's vocal style really had so much feeling and I really felt what he was saying was sincere. To me it was a whirlwind of blasphemy when most of my favorite Heavy Metal bands were selling out to poser music. Possessed gave me hope that aggressive music will always prevail. Possessed is one of the most important building blocks for the Incantation sound and I will always be grateful to Possessed for changing my life and being an inspiration.
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): Seven Churches was probably the first album that made me want to listen to more brutal bands (like Death and Morbid Angel which released their debut LPs a couple of years later). The sound and the songs (all killer no filler) were amazing. And yes, it would still fit in my personal Top 10 Most Important Extreme Metal Albums of All Time list.
Zhema Rodero (VULCANO): This album was important to me because, as a musician, it gave me confidence to continue writing music for Vulcano the same way. Seven Churches showed me it was possible to write brutal and contagious songs at the same time. Thus it was that album that I feel has helped me in my career with Vulcano.
If we are talking strictly about Thrash/Death Metal, I would say yes! This album belongs on my top ten list, for sure.
Julkarn (GRAVEYARD): It is special because it is one of the albums that got me into the world of extreme music. Following the path with Seven Churches I started to discover bands such as Death, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Entombed, Unleashed, etc. I think I can say that it was thanks to Seven Churches and maybe three or four other records that I got into Death Metal. If it was not for them I would probably have stuck with the classic Heavy Metal that was my favorite type of music back then. It is definitely one of my Top 10 of Most Important Extreme Metal Albums of All Time.
Kena Strömsholm (FESTERDAY): To my recollection Beyond the Gates and Reign in Blood came out right after Seven Churches. At that time Slayer had gained more of a reputation among my friends so Possessed didn't really get the attention they deserved. I guess Possessed wasn't featured in the Scandinavian magazines the same way Venom was. I do remember when Speed Kills III was released and Possessed was featured on that compilation with a song called "Swing of the Axe". That song grabbed me by the balls and kicked me back to Seven Churches again. I don't have a single top 10 album list, I have hundreds of top 10 album lists and yes, Seven Churches is there.
Eduardo Lane (NERVOCHAOS): Yes, it's definitively on my top 10 list. It changed my concept of extreme music and started me in on the most extreme music styles such as Death and Black Metal. Possessed were one of the pioneers along with Master, in my opinion.
Patrick González (WORSHIP DEATH): For me Seven Churches is essential and it's a mandatory album for any fan of (extreme) Metal. The reasons are the album's tremendous quality and its importance in the history of extreme Metal. Without this record the development of Death and Black Metal would have been wholly different, I believe.
Yes, it definitely belongs on my top 10 Metal albums of all time list. I really worship this record.
Kimmo Korkala (TORTURE PULSE): I give it credit as a ground breaking classic even it's not on my top 10 list. It is not even on my top 20 list. Surely it has inspired many bands which I rate higher than this record.
Anton Reisenegger (PENTAGRAM CHILE): It is definitely at the top of my all-time favorite albums list. It was just so groundbreaking the way they made their riffs sound genuinely evil. It made me want to play this kind of music! What more can I say?
Mors Dalos Ra (NECROS CHRISTOS): Seven Churches belongs on my top 5 list of the greatest Death Metal albums of all time and absolutely no more words are needed, for good reasons.
Venus Torment (RIPPER): Seven Churches is a masterpiece. It is very important to me. Ironically, I have very good memories of that record and I still enjoy it. It is a direct influence on Ripper as it should for all of us who tend to sing with the kind of voice Mr. Becerra has. It is part of my top ten extreme albums of Metal and it is included as one of the questions from Ripper on the fanzine Prédica Blasfema.
Peso (NECRODEATH): Seven Churches actually belongs to my top 5 albums of all times list not top 10, just to correct you a little bit here, ha ha!!
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): Seven Churches was a real stepping stone for many extreme Metal masterpieces to come. In fact, I feel like Seven Churches is THE EXTREME Metal album of all time. Even today Seven Churches inspires me to write songs for Anasarca. The song "Survival Mode" from our 2015 demo has a main riff that could well have been on Seven Churches. ;)
Janne Kosonen (NECROPSY): This album is definitely one of my favorite Metal albums and it belongs on my "Top 10 Most Important Extreme Metal Albums of All Time" list together with The Eyes of Horror EP. Beyond the Gates is still an incredible album but Seven Churches...it's always such a raging beast of an album in my mind. I've thought about and discussed it with my band mates many times as to why it is so damn good and what makes it so special. I think that this album was maybe one of the reasons I wanted to learn to play a guitar and eventually form a Metal band.
Paul Ray (FALSE PROPHET): Seven Churches was extremely important to me. Like I said before this was one of the first Death Metal albums I ever heard. And when I did hear it I knew this was what I wanted to play. Even though a lot of bands have influenced me over the years Possessed has been one of the biggest since the beginning. Seven Churches represented all the elements of music that I would soon come to love; the dark satanic lyrics, the intense speed and brutal heaviness. So with that being said they are on my top ten of all Metal albums list and will be always. I'm sure a lot of others will agree with that.
Jeremy Golden (HEAVEN AND HELL RECORDS): The Eyes of Horror EP I would say was more important to me; not only for the reason it was the first Possessed I ever heard but that EP directed me down a path that otherwise I may not have ventured down. Finding Possessed opened my eyes to not only extreme underground bands but also various types of Heavy Metal and even other music genres. Most of the people I know whose gateway into Metal or Thrash was Metallica basically stay close-minded to anything else.
As for the Seven Churches album; I certainly recognize that as a classic and a cornerstone in the development of Thrash and Death, even as blueprint to what would later be known has Black Metal. So yes Seven Churches is an extremely important album and I would put it in my top 10 extreme albums.
Paul Johansson (SORCERY): When I first heard it, the intro and the melodic parts impressed me the most. I don't know if I would have put it on my top 10 list but let's say top 20 of all time. When I heard it some years later I definitely moved it up to my top 10 list!
Cronis (TO THE DEATH RECORDS): Seven Churches may not be on my top ten list (but that list is a subject of change on a day to day basis) but Possessed as a band certainly makes the top ten!
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): It's one of the greats, no doubt about it, but there were albums that were more meaningful to me personally. Like I said, I discovered Seven Churches after I had already heard more advanced extreme stuff like Slayer so the album didn't influence me that much although it surely inspired me to some extent. You know, at the time extreme music was progressing so quickly and you wanted to check the latest and the most advanced stuff which is something I can't say about today's extreme Metal. Back in the 80's that was the case. Things hadn't gone absurd yet. Seven Churches has a dark and eerie quality to it that is not easy to match. You tend to remember records like that if you are into such stuff or even if you were not...
Ryan Förster (BLASPHEMY): There are 100 albums in my "Top 10 Most Important Extreme Metal Albums Of All Time" list, ha ha!! Of course I'd like to fit Seven Churches in there. Thinking about it now I can totally see it narrowed down to a Top 10 finish, especially if we get genre-specific and talk only about Death Metal albums. Seven Churches has been in the soundtrack to my life since the mid-80's. So yes, it is a very important and special album to me!
Pablo Sexton (UNBLESSED): To a die-hard extreme Metal fan, this album changed the way I appreciated music and what it meant to be a metalhead. I started listening to Heavy and Power Metal bands and there was a time when it was all about Thrash but what really changed my view of metal was old school Metal albums like this one that impeccably showed the darkness and aggressiveness that I was so eager to present in my own music. Anyone incapable of including this album among their top ten all-time favorites in extreme Metal, in terms of originality and legacy, clearly does not possess the knowledge of the genre needed to form any opinion at all.
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): In all honesty, I've never listened to Seven Churches that much so I wouldn't include it on my personal list. It has influenced a fuckload of younger bands though, which makes it an immensely important extreme Metal album.
Luxi: How well has Seven Churches stood the test of time after 30 long years?
Bob Bagchus (SOULBURN): It has stood the test of time like a classic album does...perfectly! To this very day no band has come close to the ultimate, heavy brutality on Seven Churches. This is my opinion only since this album had such an impact on me back then. Albums like this that came out during puberty tended to stick in your mind forever. Playing this album brings me back to my teenage years and everything that came along with it. I cannot think of any other band that can match the sheer intensity, brutality and class of this masterpiece and I am pretty sure no band ever will either!
Stephan Gebédi (THANATOS): Of course the full-on reverb approach gives it an undeniable 80's touch, but it still sounds like a brutal wall of sound after all these years and the songs themselves are Metal classics that have stood the test of time extremely well. It has definitely stood the test if time and has grown into an absolute classic over the years!
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): Very well! A classic is a classic...'nuff said.
Don of the Dead (NUNSLAUGHTER): Seven Churches is STILL a monthly listen for me. After all of these years I keep spinning it and looking for something I may have missed. Jeff's voice was impeccable and Sus' drumming complimented it perfectly. If you don't like Seven Churches then I probably don't like you.
Thomas Pioli (THEVETAT/DESTRO RECORDS): No doubt about it. It's something I will revisit and cherish morbidly beyond the world's end. It has made the extreme Metal scene better and its lasting imprint will always remain untouchable.
Patrick Ranieri (HELLWITCH): It's still godly!! The speed, the production, the musicianship, the originality, the devilry it inspirations are ALL still very fresh and strong for me!
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): It still holds up after 30 years. I think it would be called Black/Thrash Metal as opposed to Death Metal these days. Some aspects of it have become standard in extreme Metal but there are also parts to their riffs that to this day I think musicians are still left scratching their heads and saying "how did they do that?" or perhaps "what were they thinking?" After 30 years Seven Churches can still be mined for inspiration and new ideas so it would be one of my "desert island" discs. I would also like to say, in conclusion, that I saw Possessed live a few years ago on the Barge to Hell with Jeff Beccera, Kelly McLauchlin and others from the band Sadistic Intent and it was great. Hopefully something new comes from that line-up because they would really be able to create a new, authentic Possessed album.
Hatred (THY SERPENT'S CULT): In my opinion Seven Churches is a timeless classic that has stood the test of time and still sounds amazingly fresh and is a high profile extreme Metal record even today. It sort of reflects dark and cruel times when death is all around us, walking behind us in a world that eventually free-falls into the very depths of the abyss.
Costa Stoios (IRON PEGASUS RECORDS): Very well! If you haven't heard the album for a while and then play it again it is like "wwooooooaaah... f*ckin' hell!!!!!" Then you start to wonder why nobody creates anything like this anymore. A song like "Death Metal" still blows away 99% of all of today's Death Metal albums in my opinion.
Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): Sounds just as good today as it did 30 years ago!
Toni (WORTHLESS): I still listen to Seven Churches often and it sounds just as good as it did 30 years ago.
John McEntee (INCANTATION): It still rules!!!!! Every time I listen to it I just feel like banging my head!!!! To me, it's one of the best extreme albums of all time. Without possessed I would hate to see what Death Metal would be like today. Something would be different for sure and I think it would be for the worst.
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): I think it has stood the test of time quite well just by the sheer brutality of the songs. The riffs are catchy and timeless. The sound is incredibly dark and monstrous and let's not forget to mention the violent voice of Mr. Jeff Becerra!
Zhema Rodero (VULCANO): As I said earlier, the secret of this album is the value it has in its raw state. When those guys (Jeff, Torrao, Lalonde and Mike) wrote that album they did it from the heart and were neither concerned with musical rules nor success and fame. Therefore I think Seven Churches is true art in its raw state.
Julkarn (GRAVEYARD): It is one of a few albums that always makes it to my iPod. I listen to it quite often and to be honest the music on Seven Churches is as fresh today as it was thirty years ago. Obviously the production is the most outdated aspect of the record but in terms of riffing and songwriting it could have been recorded three weeks ago. Beyond the Gates and The Eyes of Horror are also very good albums but they lack the evil and menacing atmosphere that Seven Churches so deeply conveys.
Kena Strömsholm (FESTERDAY): Old Thrash Metal has always been a big thing for me and if I compare the North Rhine-Westphalia bands of today with Possessed and the other Bay Area bands from the 80's, Seven Churches definitely has a place in my heart. You can't really trust in anything these days but one thing's for sure; in old school Metal you can.
Eduardo Lane (NERVOCHAOS): Extremely well, it's a classic; a legendary album that broke the mold and a huge influence on the extreme music scene.
Patrick González (WORSHIP DEATH): Despite the years Seven Churches still is fresh, original and intense. It will continue to surprise new Metal generations and people will be influenced by this record during the next decades. An album like Seven Churches is one in a million.
Kimmo Korkala (TORTURE PULSE): Basically it sounds the same to me after all these years. Hopefully there won't be a remaster-remix-redicks version ever. Don't spoil the cult!
Anton Reisenegger (PENTAGRAM CHILE): I think Seven Churches has aged extremely well. It still sounds fresh and brutal as fuck and most Death Metal bands today still can't touch it. Its only flaw has always been the drumming but that also added to the twisted nature of it all and these days I actually find it more enjoyable compared to all those machine-like drum sounds out there.
Mors Dalos Ra (NECROS CHRISTOS): It is one of the blackest masses of the Metal of Death, both back in the days when it was released, as well as today. After ten tracks the sermon leaves you with an open mouth and bleeding ears and no one will ever doubt that this IS the essence of real Death Metal. None shall ever defy Seven Churches, forever and in eternity. Amen.
Venus Torment (RIPPER): Every damn metalhead, and I mean the ones that really know about the genre, surely know and enjoy Seven Churches immensely. This album has always been one of the most classic and important albums of extreme Metal. In spite of trends, Seven Churches will always have its flame burning bright due to its undeniable importance to the extreme Metal world. Metaphorically, Seven Churches will always be that one delicious item on the top of your sandwich in the history of Heavy Metal that we all want to save for last.
Peso (NECRODEATH): It's still a very magical album to me personally, from start to finish. 'Nuff said, I think.
Michael Dormann (ANASARCA): It is still a masterpiece worth listening to and will always be. Seven Churches is the kind of album that I would introduce to any kid today when talking about meaningful and important genre-defining Death Metal releases instead of some overly technical and blast-beat ridden Death Metal release in order to show them what real, sheer brutality is truly all about.
Janne Kosonen (NECROPSY): I've listened to this album for almost 30 years now. I cannot see any reasons why should I stop. It's almost a perfect Metal album; perfect vocals, perfect guitar work/solos, perfect drumming, etc. The chemistry in the band was simply amazing when they did Seven Churches. Possessed created an unspeakable album. It is very difficult to reach that level of power and extremity these days. They were the godfathers of extreme Metal. They did very good work on that record and in my opinion the songs and the sounds have stood the test of time incredibly well.
Paul Ray (FALSE PROPHET): My personal opinion is that it has done very well. Even when albums don't have the best production, if the songs are good, they will stand the test of time. Seven Churches is full of brutal, quality Metal songs. Before answering these questions I took time to listen to this album again. These songs still get me pumped up and brought back a lot of memories from when I first heard this album. Any metalhead that hasn't listened to Seven Churches needs to put this at the top of their list. With Possessed touring again, as a fan, I'm ready for some new material.
Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to this article for the 30-year anniversary of Seven Churches.
Jeremy Golden (HEAVEN AND HELL RECORDS): Classics well always stand the test of time and Seven Churches is a classic.
Paul Johansson (SORCERY): It's been many years since I listened to it last but I don't know why because it's in my roots. I really love their will to make it sounds brutal. I'm similar in that way because I'm not the greatest guitarist but I have the will to make my band Sorcery sound evil.
Cronis (TO THE DEATH RECORDS): Of course nostalgia is involved when I think about hearing it as a small brat but Seven Churches has stood the test of time and will forever be an album that I gladly listen to (and did repeatedly after I got these questions, ha ha!!).
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): Quite well I think. They wrote some unique, twisted riffs that have stood the test of time and the strong atmosphere of this record holds never gets old. Surely some of the stuff sounds fairly primitive now but isn't that how a lot of bands try to sound these days? When you put on Seven Churches at least you know it's authentic. I find it a bit funny that the album sounds less outdated to me in 2015 than it did in 1987.
Ryan Förster (BLASPHEMY): Seven Churches is one of those timeless classics. I'm sure a kid just turning 16 today and getting into Death and Black Metal would enjoy this album as much as someone that has been listening to it for the last 30 years.
Possessed were ahead of their time and directed a whole movement into new, uncharted territories! How could anyone ever get bored of songs like "Satan's Curse", "Death Metal", or "Fallen Angel"????
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): I think it has stood the test of time surprisingly well. The sounds aren't modern by any means but they were unique and ultra brutal back in 1985. The album sounds old but not dated, something a ton of "modern retro bands" are still trying to copy.
Pablo Sexton (UNBLESSED): It's been more than a decade since the first time I heard this album and in time I've heard all kinds of Metal albums each more extreme than the last. This is more relevant if we consider how immensely Death Metal has evolved in terms of technique and instrument execution. Yet it'd be wrong to say that Seven Churches is obsolete since this album displays an honest anger that can hardly be found in contemporary bands that focus mainly on their image and correct use of sounds. This leaves behind the non-conformist and heathen touch that to me is a priority when it comes to creating a good Metal album. Here in Chile, the amount of young metalheads that can be seen at concerts and events with T-shirts and patches with the Seven Churches logo is astounding. That is solid evidence that regardless of age, Possessed will keep inspiring metalheads to mosh and to live music with passion and brutality. True Metal never dies! \m/
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