Witching Hour: A Conversation with Possession

Summoning an intoxicatingly rabid sound reminiscent of metal’s chaotic early years, and imbuing their haunting atmospheres with tales of witchery, exorcism, and torture, Belgium’s Possession have continued to deliver on the promisingly primal rage of their His Best Deceit and Anneliese releases with the mercilessly diabolical 1484-1646 mLP. A whirlwind of black metal devilry and high-octane attitude a la Venom and early Bathory, 1484-1646 documents the tale of Adrienne D’Heur, a medieval Frenchwoman tried and executed under the charge of being a witch [reviewed here]. Distilling the key elements of their prior releases into a sound that captures the fervour, depravity, and horror of the album’s subject matter, Possession have produced their most vicious and musically consolidated release yet, both demonstrating their creative vigour, and providing an unequivocal statement of their primitive sonic intent.

The mLP is high on Unholy Noise’s list of 2015’s best releases thus far, and so we got in touch with the band to talk energy, storytelling, and sticking a middle finger up at musical evolution.

Find Possession on Facebook here, and listen to/purchase here.

Hello and many thanks for the interview! Possession have only been around for a few short years yet the band has already made quite an impact; why do you think this is, and how do you feel about the feedback so far?

You’re welcome. I don’t really know where the good feedbacks we get come from and honestly I don’t really care. Of course it’s a great experience to hear people you respect saying your band is good but this is not where our motivation comes from. Our main source of motivation is the energy existing within the bands and how we feel when we write music or play live together.

Can you describe the events that led your members to come together and write music under the Possession banner?

The drummers and I were playing in a more traditional death metal oriented band so to speak while the bass and guitar players were playing in another band. Those 2 bands were going strictly nowhere and motivation was fading away. At some point we had the idea to try to create something together. We had a first rehearsal back in December 2012. During that rehearsal we played Sepultura’s Necromancer together. At this very precise moment, we all felt some sort of alchemy was lying in the air. The rest is history like one says.

Musically each of your releases offer a different view of Possession’s sound and seem to have their own place in the band’s development, with the new mini-album 1485-1546 being both your longest release so far, and the one that seems to focus in the most on a particular musical approach. How does this relate to Possession’s development as a band? Your music has a very primal feel to it that doesn’t suggest any conscious effort to experiment, or to aim for a particular sound; is it this energy that has inspired the constant transition?

I guess we evolve as a band and we enjoy trying to create new atmospheres. I think the band will die pretty fast if we were writing the same track again and again so to speak. Furthermore you’re right, things are not really conscious as we let speak our guts speak over our minds. Energy is our strongest assets as we are far from being virtuosos and we are fine with that as we prefer to be an extremely aggressive band than a band of jerks banging their bishops on how good musicians they are.

Following on from this, the band has been quite productive in its early years, with releases in three years, and each being something of a step up both musically and in terms of production etc. How would you describe the band’s journey so far, and what is behind Possession’s upward trajectory?

We try to push things further. I hate bands’ guys saying in interviews that their new release is the best they have ever written so that I will never say such thing but I’d say that we try to push things further or try to show a different aspect of the band while staying 100% faithful to what we are and will always be.

In a similar way to the Anneliese EP, with 1485-1646 Possession has focused on a tale of witchery and evil that has its basis in real life, as opposed to obscure mythological/occult references that other extreme metal bands pursue. What led you to the specific narrative of1585-1646, and what led you to take this route of using real life subjects as inspiration in your music?

That’s right, I enjoy telling stories in my lyrics and don’t really like dealing with complex and abstract concepts. In the case of this MLp, I was busy reading some books about witches in France during the middle age when we started to write the new tracks. At some point my attention was caught by the story of Adrienne d’Heur. I then suggested my band mates to write a conceptual release telling her stories mixed with our own fantasies. possession 1

The narrative of this story is expressed very strongly through the pacing and atmosphere of the music on 1585-1646. How did you approach transforming this tale into the songs on the album?

We did our best to write music fitting the story we wanted to tell. I’d say we try to visualise how things (such as the sabbath or the hunt of a witch by the inquisition) could happen and try to write riffs fitting the precise atmosphere we imagine, be they sharp and aggressive or slower and more atmosphere driven.  

Judging from the Sepultura cover on His Best Deceit to the almost Venom/Motorhead attitude of Anneliese and the more traditionally black metal sound of the new record, it’s clear that Possession have a broad range of influences. What do you think it is that binds these distinct sounds to one another, and how do you to try to express that in your own music?

Tough question. I don’t really know how we manage to combine our range of influences. I guess it’s something kinda natural so to speak and I assume that our tracks are the combination of those influences while my vocals are kinda influenced by the vocalists I enjoy while the drummer is influenced by drummers he respects and so on. I wouldn’t say we try to express our influences. Once again this is something pretty natural.

Personally I get a strong Hellhammer/Celtic Frost vibe with Possession’s aesthetic and music, yet with 1585-1646 Possession seems to have truly come into its own. This suggests that while in some ways the band seems quite rooted in tradition, you also have a desire to push your own boundaries musically. Would you say this was true, and if so, how do you walk the line between tradition and evolution?

Traditions, the roots of metal and the way it was defined by the pioneers in the 80s and early 90s are crucial things to us. Evolution is something we do not really value. To tell you the truth I despise most evolutions in metal and I gotta admit I am an ultra-narrow minded person as far as metal is concerned. However we don’t want to be boring copycats and always try to bring something fresh by letting our own personality speak. 

While Possession is a relatively new project and still as yet to release a full-length album, you seem to have a consolidated and solidified approach to your music and intent for the band. What is the overall atmosphere within the band at the moment, and how do you plan to continue to go forward?

Well, let’s say we always try to put all our efforts in what we do. I guess this is why our approach look “consolidated and solidified”. There is also a great vibe within the band between all of us. We get along very well and everybody can express his ideas, etc. The atmosphere is still perfect within the band. We don’t know yet what will come next. For the moment we look forward to see our new MLp released and focus on the release show which will take place in Oberhausen, Germany, the 6th of June.

Thanks very much for your time and answering our questions! What lies in the future for Possession, and do you have any final comments?

Nothing is set yet as far as the future of the band is concerned. We’ll see what we have in mind when we start writing new tracks.

I would like to thank you for your interest and salute your readers.

A.M.S.G.

 

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