Revolver has teamed with Possessed for an exclusive "Combat Camo" vinyl edition of their classic EP, The Eyes of Horror, limited to 200 copies worldwide. Order yours before they're gone!
Bay Area extremists Possessed exploded out of the underground thrash scene with the release of their game-changing 1985 debut, Seven Churches. The tandem of singer/bassist Jeff Becerra and guitarist Larry LaLonde may not have even been old enough to buy alcohol, but they were already helping to advance the landscape of heavy music. (They essentially coined the term and style of "death metal" with Seven Churches' closing track).
Not content to rest on his laurels, Becerra continued to expand the band's vision on 1986's follow-up Beyond the Gates and 1987's The Eyes of Horror EP — the latter which proved to be the last release to feature Possessed's original lineup before tragedy struck and the group disbanded. (Becerra eventually reformed the band and released the solid comeback record, Revelations of Oblivion, in 2019).
Sonny Reinhardt — guitarist for Oakland crushers Necrot and Saviours — discovered the power of Possessed in the '90s, and has been hooked ever since. Below, Reinhardt details how Possessed's music influenced his own creative, and destructive, expressions.
DESCRIBE HOW YOU FIRST DISCOVERED POSSESSED.
SONNY REINHARDT I can't remember exactly where and when I first heard Possessed, but it was probably sometime in the mid Nineties. I was probably raging really hard, maybe breaking stuff. I used to live in this old condemned punk house with a bunch of grind, punk and metal freaks around then. We had a full-size actual missile sticking up out of the dirt in the front yard and it was covered in bras, panties and underwear. Maybe some of you stayed there on tour!
Anyways I remember we had this big pile of wooden doors on the side of the house that we would take turns smashing with an axe listening to tunes really fuckin' loud and then burn it all later. I kinda remember "The Exorcist" being the first Possessed song I heard. I also remember the first time hearing it gave me goosebumps and that feeling of wanting to smash, burn and obliterate everything around me!
POSSESSED'S SEVEN CHURCHES IS CONSIDERED TO BE ONE OF HEAVY METAL'S GREATEST DEBUT RECORDS. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
Pretty fuckin' important! The cover is simple yet evil and iconic. It draws you into wanting to jam it right away. The music is a great raw blend of thrash and death metal. Some of it sounds a bit quirky and punk to my ears to, which is totally cool in my book. I grew up loving stuff like D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies and crossover was a favorite that got me into a lot of heavier stuff. I love that the tempo stays fast and continually slays goats throughout. Jeff Becerra's vocals are unique and stay pissed, yet, it's like he's got an evil grin and pleased with the all carnage at the same time. It's got its own flavor still and has stood the test of time!
TALK ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU HEARD THE EYES OF HORROR EP. HOW DID YOU DISCOVER IT AND WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION?
I think it was probably because it was produced by Joe Satriani that I found out about this album. I loved Satch in high school and found out about a lot of great guitar players because of him. He taught Larry LaLonde [of Possessed, and later, Primus], Steve Vai, Alex Skolnick, Kirk Hammett, Charlie Hunter, etc. I was also an early Primus fan in high school. Hey, it was the Nineties, but I'll admit I still dig some that early stuff. Larry is an outright sicko on the guitar!
AFTER SEVEN CHURCHES AND BEYOND THE GATES, POSSESSED'S THE EYES OF HORROR MARKED A SHIFT FOR THE BAND INTO MORE OF A THRASH STYLE. WHAT DOES THE EYES OF HORROR MEAN TO YOU?
It's cool because it doesn't stray too far from their earlier material, but just brings some of those more thrash elements into it. I love old school thrash so I'm all for it! It does seem to have more of an Eighties Bay Area thrash feel to it for sure. There are some real Slayer/Exodus-like moments, but I think that's super cool cause all those bands were jamming and vibing together at places like Ruthie's Inn and The Omni back then. I think it sounds like a logical step in their progression at that time. Plus, like I said earlier I was stoked on Satch so that rules that he got involved in the production. Hey Joe, if you're reading this, killer job! Are you still teaching?
HOW DID POSSESSED INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT, OR THE WAY YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING MUSIC?
I would say that Seven Churches is the Possessed album that made the most impact on me. I know that when I heard "The Exorcist" and all those wicked tremolo picking guitar parts, it was just this blinding evil mega stokedness for me and I knew that I would never be the same! It's so sick and perfect and raw! I've played in lots of bands using those type of riffs and elements over the years. I finally got to see them for the first time on the 10-year anniversary of [Exodus singer] Paul Baloff's death in Oakland and it was one of the sickest satanic thrash shows ever! Years after that Necrot got to play with them in Oakland as well and they were also fucking phenomenal! Hopefully it happens again someday.
IS POSSESSED SOMETHING YOU REGULARLY GO BACK AND LISTEN TO? OR DO THEY REPRESENT A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME IN YOUR HISTORY?
I definitely still listen to Seven Churches fairly often but been really digging revisiting Beyond the Gates and The Eyes of Horror again! … Possessed represent a fun time in my life when I gave way less fucks and had a good time getting into all sorts of trouble. No regrets, thrash till death!