Ahead of attending to their live performance at Festival Del Diablo, there was a press conference held. Scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm, notwithstanding, following the Colombian tradition in which delays are always expected, San Francisco Bay Area thrashers, Possessed, earned the conference table around 4:30 pm.
Accompanied by a Colombian translator that in much got lost, well, in translation, renewing quite a few thought-provoking questions to the bare merest and tangible per say, in which most were answered by Jeff Becerra himself with fewer exceptions by the other musicians. Although both Possessed and the press media approached the typical and predictable questionnaire regarding the act’s career and discography, there were some questions and answers that could have been further explored.
Regrettably, Possessed conspire the fact that they were the forefathers and originators of the death metal scene in various occasions, something that both I and many others do not entirely agree if we take into thought that Death was originally founded in 1983 by now deceased, guitarist and vocalist Chuck Schuldiner in Orlando, Florida. Jeff Becerra was, in fact, Chuck Schuldiner’s roommate at the time and did not partake on Death’s line-up neither compositions. By then, Possessed was founded, and that, later on, they claimed the title of a death metal act when fewer are the elements that envision their death metal foundation, significantly entwined toward the thrash metal realm other than death metal, as far as I can reckon.
After breaking up in 1987 when the original vocalist Barry Fish tragically committed suicide by shotgun, and with bass player Jeff Andrews no longer enthusiastic to be a part of the act’s original line-up, Jeff Becerra which by then was part of Blizzard as vocalist, and heavily inspired by the works of earlier Metallica and Exodus, chose to abandon Blizzard to join Possessed as vocalist in 1990. Therefore replacing both deceased Barry Fisher and by then, Jeff Andrews as the bass player, hence, giving continuance to Possessed’s musical endeavours.
Shortly after the release of the ‘Eyes of Horror’ EP, the act once again scattered. In 1990, Jeff Becerra was paralysed from the waist down following a shooting. In 1990, Possessed was redeemed by guitar player Mike Torrao while featuring retired musicians from Pro-Pain and Machine Head. With the by then, new line-up settled, Possessed released two demo tapes and consequently adjourned their activities in 1993. In 2007, Possessed took the stage at Wacken Open Air Festival with Jeff Becerra taking the Possessed stigma under his wing, while backed-up by Sadistic Intent musicians. Sadistic Intent was, in fact, one of the acts featured on the compilation ‘Metal Massacre 6’, released by Brian Slagel’s record company, the now infamous Metal Blade Records. ‘Metal Massacre’ is a series of compilation albums released which is well known for “shedding light” on acts such as The Obsessed, Trouble, Overkill, Metal Church, Metallica, Slayer, Virgin Steele, Hellhammer, Voivod, Armored Saint, Lizzy Borden and more.
When asked about the musicians influences and which acts they would enjoy being a part of, they cited Metallica, King Diamond, Sepultura, Slayer, Assassino, and Iron Maiden. Back in the days, they also cited direct musical influences from earlier Exodus and Venom at some point, in addition to Motörhead, Judas Priest. Slayer, however, was one of the main references when asked about their 1985’s ‘Seven Churches’ debut album, when relating it to ‘Show No Mercy’ that had not been released until December 3ed, 1983. Lyrically speaking, Possessed claims that there are still mainly focused on Satanism and death as main driven arguments.
During the press conference, Jeff Becerra stated Venom as a historical musical influence in the metal scene, an act that they shared the stage for the very first time in San Francisco’s Kabuki in 1986, alongside with Slayer.
What raised me some unsettling was the fact that Jeff Becerra affirmed that “European bands are more melodic” when compared to United States, lessening the European scene in which regards to the death metal scene.
From my personal point of view, either Jeff Becerra recently got conversance to the post-2000’s European death metal scene with acts such as Dark Tranquillity, Crionics, Dimension Zero, Scar Symmetry, In Flames or even the more progressive vein alike Gojira, Omnium Gatherum, Insomnium, Alkaloid (just to name a few), while undividedly neglecting the death metal veterans Dismember, Gorefest, Sinister, Malevolent Creation, Vader, Unleashed, Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Grave and even the often censored on tv channels, Deranged. Although even most recently, Severe Torture or Fleshcrawl have proven to be as brutal and harsh as possible, surpassing in much, United States redefined death metal scene that of late saw the spontaneous regression post-Slipknot 1990’s ‘Slipknot’ era by bringing acts that remained in hiatus for many years, such as Obituary and Broken Hope.
Commonly, some pertinent questions regarding his past as past Blizzard musician and now, President of California Death Metal Militia Organization held position, whichever according to Jeff Becerra, aims to appeal syndicalism the metal scene, perhaps leveraging the monetary side of things yet outlasting independently.
In which honors to their live performance, dismally, we could only officially report two songs from their entire live set. As it happened with Cannibal Corpse and Venom that took the stage the very same day, their managers required a two song rule that obligated the media press to leave the parameters and compound among the broad audience or pause outside assigned area for the subsequent live performance. To be quite honest, I am aware that the festival promoters do not have any obligation for this matters as those are imposed by the managers, however, if writers followed the same rules as photographers, their live performances would be quite obscure by the lack of proper access.
Amidst the audience attending the Possessed show, I could observe the fervency of the Colombian aficionados toward Possessed, particularly their vocalist, Jeff Becerra, which at a vocal level did not seem to impress at least at their opening song that blasted away. His microphone somehow seemed to lose the knob to protrude his vocals toward the audience, and some parts remained unlistenable I dare say. The “growing” death metal vocals everybody was expecting to listen, did not occur, at least from the place I was standing, far away from the stage and with people continually yelling out loud near me, Possessed’s performance transitioned from bland and discernible, to instrumental without a vocal lead presence at some point.
For the Colombian audience, still, owning Possessed in front of them was an enjoyment, a memorable occurrence overdue and their presence at Festival Del Diablo certainly consolidated the second edition of the festival. As for me, not uniquely a keen devotee of their tone neither a heavy follower of their career, I dare say that I was anticipating a show that would make me headbang frenetically to their exalted rhythmic and tremolo sections, which did not happen. Even thus individuals nearby denoted chaos with their array of energetic emanations. Whence guitar player Daniel Gonzales approached the microphone and saluted them in Spanish, adding Colombian terms such as “triple hijueputas” to the brew, it definitely elevated the masses and brought some proximity toward Possessed, as it occurred in the press conference, when both him and bass player Robert Cardenas spoke to the Colombian press media lecturing their answers in Spanish as well.
I would say that Possessed’s live performance at Festival Del Diablo had an overwhelming reception from the audience and that they admittedly, authenticated a familiar aura amongst their aficionados. Classics were played, such as ‘Death Metal’, ‘My Believe’ and ‘Tribulation’, ‘Satan’s Curse’ and ultimately, ‘Wing Of The Axe’. Both ‘Satan’s Curse’ and ‘Death Metal’ motivated the audience to an outburst of mosh pits. Colombians bestowed Possessed with a unique share a common fondness for the elderly sounds while cheering and chorusing with them, and the wholly Festival Del Diablo structure only came to confirm that Possessed, alongside with future others, can dethrone the stage and gather a proximity with their devotees in a safe environment.
Regarding their future, it was declared at their press conference that Possessed is currently composing new material for their first full-length studio album since 1986’s ‘Beyond The Gates’, which is slated for release in mid-2016.