Belgium’s emerging black metal upstarts Possession are an interesting beast. The band’s expanding offering of demos and mini-albums, while firmly located in the filthy, grimy end of the black/death metal spectrum, have progressively shown the band delving into the nuances of their sound. From the rabid and down-tuned battery of His Best Deceit, to the Anneliese EP’s thundering, bass-driven howl, the band have crafted a notably diverse set of recordings early in their career. With their new mini-album 1585-1646 Possession have continued this sonic exploration, moving towards a more atmospheric and haunting sound while retaining their primal pace and aggression. The result is a release that both demonstrates Possession’s youthful energy and vigour, as well as their continued growth into an exciting presence on the international black metal radar.
Continuing loosely within the conceptual aesthetic explored on their earlier works, (specifically the Anneliese EP, which was based on the story Anneliese Michel, the victim of a notorious exorcism case), on 1585-1646 Possession reinterpret the story of a medieval French witch who fell foul of the Spanish Inquisition. The record sets this historic scene through opening track Obscure – Visitation, with solemn cathedral-esque chanting and organ bleeding into a hypnotic drone of guitar, with the combination of religiosity and dark mystique evoking a menacingly ominous atmosphere. This sets the scene perfectly for the aural explosion that represents the witch’s devilish pact, a barrage of deranged screaming and unbridled, blackened thrash riffery that becomes even more break-neck when layered on top of the drum’s whiplash-inducing pummel.
The album’s narrative flows on over the next three tracks, with the swirling mixture of aggression and atmosphere of Ceremony representing the ritualistic capriciousness of the witch’s unholy Sabbath, while the all-out onslaught of raging malice found on Guilty captures the horror of her arrest, torture, and confession. Final track Ablaze recreates the witch’s grisly end at the stake with an aural inferno of ripping riffery and tormented screaming, completing Possession’s summoning of the spirit of proto-black metal Godfathers in Venom and Bathory in their retelling of these diabolical deeds.
While the primal and raw approach innovated by the above legends certainly factors into the foundation of Possession’s song-writing, the band’s morbid swagger leaves its own black mark on this classic sound. From the chaotic blasting, stripped-down, raw guitar work, and the distinctive, venomously spat vocal rasp, Possession craft a suitably malevolent atmosphere while simultaneously showing their skill in imbuing their music with the unholy essence of this tale of devilry and death. 1585-1646 proves to be another step forward in Possession’s evolution and prowess, and with any luck marks the last of the teaser releases in their catalogue – full-length soon please!
Releases June 5th, 2015