Metal and punk are really two sides of the same coin. Both explore the darker side of life and express thoughts using extreme aggression. They differ in the way that they accepted influences and used them for their craft. Punk rejected the idea that you had to have some musical education in order to express yourself through music and claimed that music was an essential part of what it means to be human. Metal embraced the complexities of music and absorbed them into their essence. Still, both genres mingle more than one might have thought at that time they exploded. They also go really well with horror, another medium that embraces the dark. Put that all together, and you’ve got a heck of a package.
Possessor is the kind of band that embraces all those aspects. London’s trio of horror metal punks have been releasing their lo-fi version of chaos since 2013. It’s pretty straightforward stuff. No real frills to speak of. Just straight ahead no-nonsense punky metal. The riffs are covered in more distortion than radio white noise. It’s all served up with some pretty gnarly aggression that just doesn’t let up. Every song is very high energy and wrapped together in a nice lo-fi package recalling the days of basement shows and homemade demos. It’s got a wonderful feeling of nostalgia in a nice modern package and is truly quite enjoyable.
The band has an absolutely amazing way of creating atmosphere. It’s not quite like black metal world building, but the concept is similar. They’re not creating an environment filled with bleakness or to explore the depths of human depravity and evil. It feels more like the soundtrack to a grindhouse horror movie. Every track on Gravelands feels like a chase scene where the killer is laser-focused on capturing his prey. Much like that villain, Possessor charges full steam ahead to accomplish their goal and bring a simple version of razor-edged aggression into your ears and assault you with energy.
Nothing exemplifies this record more than “Savage Rampage”. No intro to speak of whatsoever. Just immediate loud and distorted riffs greet you out of the gate while a furiously picked bass gets you ready for the extreme pace this song goes in. Shouted lyrics tell the tale of a demonic journey through a dark land and makes the song just that much more frenetic. At the same time, the presentation reminds me of the exploitation film-style of Electric Wizard only Possessor is more about the grindhouse aspects. It’s this unique combination of influences and presentation that make Possessor a uniquely interesting band with their own voice.
Possessor has been one of my personal favorite finds in the last few years. That unique blend of punk and metal combined with the horror atmosphere fits a really nice niche a lot of us on the darker side of the musical spectrum can enjoy. The lo-fi nature of the presentation offers a nice bow on this underground package and really ties the whole record together. You really need to do as the band tells you on the first track: “Join us”.
Gravelands is available July 26 via APF Records.