Review Summary: For better or worse, Possessed give us exactly what we would expect
34 years have passed since Possessed released their genre defining opus "Seven Churches." Since the releasing that classic and promptly splitting after one more album and several demos; death metal, the genre they spawned, has exploded worldwide. Regional scenes, various subgenres and fusion genres, and literally thousands of death metal bands have come and gone over the three and a half decades since "Seven Churches," so what could the reformed Possessed possibly have to offer a genre which has evolved so exponentially? Especially when the current lineup consists of only one original member, vocalist and bassist Jeff Becerra? "Revelations of Oblivion" answers that question question with a resounding "nothing."
This album, the third from the band, attempts absolutely nothing new for either themselves or for death metal as a whole. Instead Possessed opt for a sound directly derivative of "Seven Churches," old school death/thrash through and through. You'll find no technical wankery, gutteral vocals, melodic riffs, or slams anywhere on "Revelations," the band stick entirely to an old school sound which, for better or worse, plays to their strengths. The riffs here, and there are riffs aplenty, are deeply rooted in thrash metal, often sounding more like Slayer than any modern death metal. Occassional tremolo picking does pop up as well, but its hard to escape the feeling that we've heard this all before three decades ago. The only real experiment comes from the song "Omen" which has some very awkward clean vocals about halfway through.
Even the production on "Revelations" is definitely retro sounding. The drums in particular have a very 80s sound. Possessed clearly did this intentionally and it compliments the album's old school vibe well enough. Jeff's vocals sound a bit strained here which is to be expected given his age, but these types of thrash vocals really don't hold up very well against modern death metal vocalists sadly, who often possess far more vocal range and power. The other performances are relatively good, certainly much tighter than the performances on their early records. The absence of classic members like Larry Lalonde and Mike Sus is a shame, and I can't help but wonder if the record would feel different with more of those members.
Despite all the criticisms I have of "Revelations," it's still an enjoyable listen. This kind of death/thrash is somewhat of a lost art these days, with death metal having evolved so far beyond its roots in thrash. In a way, being so retro actually makes it feel somewhat refreshing among the hordes of cleanly produced, hyper technical death metal bands of today. It may not reinvent the wheel, but "Revelations of Oblivion" is a solid and worthwhile listen from a legendary band.