Live Review: Possessed – Manchester

Live Review: Possessed - The Bread Shed, Manchester
31st July 2023
Support: Repulsive Vision, Vapor, Hellfekted
Words: Dan Barnes
Photos: Rich Price Photography

After the three-day cerebral assault that was RADAR Festival, it’s good to get the palette cleansed by some good old fashioned filthy death(ish) metal. Just as luck would have it, the mighty Possessed role into town on a wet and windy July night and turn up the heat to infernal temperatures.

The extremely competent Hellfekted have come up from Stoke-on-Trent, bringing their brand of blackened thrash with them, and are doing some damage to the Bread Shed as I arrive. There’s a fair mix of ages here, from those of us old enough to remember the seismic effect Seven Churches had when it landed in 1985, to those who were struggling with solid food when Possessed reformed properly in 2007. No matter what age you are, Hellfekted seem to be putting a smile on all faces. Their bombastic thrashing is forming one of the most ordered circle pits I think I’ve ever seen, but it’s early and let’s not go too hard too soon.

Photo Credit: Rich Price Photography

The Bloodstock Bound Cumbrians, Repulsive Vision, go about their function with ruthless efficiency; nothing too fancy, just a series of crushing riffs played with maximum malice and it could be the Eighties all over again – less the aches and pains, of course. There’re few heirs or graces served up, only destructive drums and grinding guitars, sometimes charging through with reckless abandon, other times reducing the speed and upping the sheer brutality of it all. There’s a bit of crowd participation as the set draws to a close, but I’ll suggest it’s a triumph and a good loosener for Catton Park in a couple of weeks.

Photo Credit: Rich Price Photography

After having changed names from VX36 to Vapor post-pandemic, the Californian power thrash trio have issued two albums in successive years. Another Old School example of how face-ripping and limb removing thrash can be in the right hands, we get a masterclass of sawing guitar and paint-stripping vocals, alongside John Lorence’s magnificent double-bass kicks. The Executioner is a solid rumble through a mid-paced tempo, Satan’s Fury is standard blackened death thrash but Nightmare, from this year’s Mass Morality record is full of tight switches and slow, methodical chugs reminiscent of a large (and heavy footed) rhinoceros as Nick’s vocals boarder on the Slam. Looking Through the Eyes of a Dead Man is fast and furious and Time in Turmoil seems reasonably apt, given global situations, and sees calls for a circle pit. Fair to say they are probably the ideal main support band for tonight’s line-up.

Photo Credit: Rich Price Photography
Photo Credit: Rich Price Photography

But we’re all here for the legendary Possessed. As soon as you walk into the Bread Shed that awesome logo looks back at you from the rear of the stage and you know you’re in for something special. Such is the influence of the band, despite their mere three-title full-length discography, that they have a fixed position within the pantheon of the more expansive band of their day, like Celtic Frost, Slayer and Venom.

The temptation might well have been to play Seven Churches in its entirety, and we would have all been ecstatic, but Possessed are as much about their now than their past, and the Revelations of Oblivion album is a worthy addition to the short discography. Kicking things off with a haunting horror soundtrack before launching into No More Room in Hell’s speed metal drive and snapping vocals. Damned is played at a whiplash pace, Beyond the Gates has a Venom delivery going on while the first visit to the debut is Pentagram, sounding as fetid tonight as it did back in the day.

Tribulation goes hard and fast and displays the obvious influences taken by those first wave of Death Metal bands. The crowd parts as the first casualty of the night is carried from the front of the stage, looking less than happy with whatever injury she’s sustained in the name of having fun.

Photo Credit: Rich Price Photography

I didn’t see her returning to the fray, which is a shame as Possessed went on the prove they are one of extreme music’s most talented collectives. Okay, their sound might be rooted in a bygone era, but most of those bands are still active, still selling tickets and still filling venues. Demon, The Word and Shadowcult from 2019, sit comfortably in the set with Fallen Angel, Death Metal and The Exorcist like they weren’t separated by nearly thirty-five years.

This version of the band has been together for seven years now and satisfy the criterion for being the genuine Possessed; led by original member Jeff Becerra, whose presence on any stage is a testament to the dedication to his art, it’s clear that the band’s legacy is assured and their direct influence on the formation of Death Metal is inarguable.

Possessed end with the one-two of Séance and Burning in Hell, if only to tip a nod to the early years. I was underwhelmed when the band played Bloodstock in 2017, but tonight, in Manchester, I can safely say the status of Legends was well and truly returned.

Photo Credit: Rich Price Photography

All photo credits: Rich Price Photography

For all the latest news, reviews, interviews across the heavy metal spectrum follow THE RAZORS'S EDGE on facebook, twitter and instagram.