Seven Churches (album)

Seven Churches is the debut album by American death metal band Possessed. The title of the album refers to the Seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. "The Exorcist" begins with producer Randy Burns' version of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, arranged and performed as it was in the 1973 horror film of the same name. named the album one of "10 Essential Death Metal albums".[1]

Seven Churches
Seven Churches (Possessed album).png
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 16, 1985
RecordedLate March/early April 1985
GenreDeath metal, thrash metal
LabelRelativity/Combat, Roadrunner
ProducerRandy Burns
Possessed chronology
Death Metal
Seven Churches
Beyond the Gates
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]


According to David Konow's Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal, the album was recorded during the Spring Break of 1985 when Pinole Valley High School juniors Jeff Becerra and Larry LaLonde had ample time for studio production.[4] Up until the release of the album, the band had practiced at manager Debbie Abono's house in Pinole,[4] but had formed in the El Sobrante/San Pablo area, which was the location of Mike Torrao's and Mike Sus' garage band.

In November of the same year, the band flew to Montreal, Quebec, Canada for the WWIII Weekend Festival in support of the Seven Churches release, playing alongside Celtic Frost, Destruction, Voivod and Nasty Savage; the concert was Possessed's first and largest arena appearance, with nearly 7,000 in attendance.[5]

Legacy and impactEdit

While Florida's Death had released more albums and is also cited as an enduring death metal progenitor, Seven Churches pre-dated the latter band's 1987 debut, Scream Bloody Gore by two years. The book Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore credited bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra as initially creating the term in 1983.[6]

Seven Churches has been interchangeably described as "connecting the dots between thrash metal and death metal",[2] being "monumental" in developing the death metal style,[7] and as being the "first death metal album",[8][9][10][11][12] the latter attributed to interviews with (or literature by) musicians including Kam Lee (ex-Mantas/Death, ex-Massacre), the late Ronnie James Dio (ex-Dio, ex-Black Sabbath) and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Opeth). Former Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris said his introduction to metal was Possessed's Seven Churches album, a personal recommendation to him by then-guitarist Justin Broadrick.[13]

In its July 1986 review of Seven Churches, SPIN described the album as belonging to the "sub-mutated genre of death-metal" and being a "full-on Japanese-commuter-train-without-brakes of what this genre should sound like...bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra regurgitates what have to be the most Stygian vocal utterances to date."[3]

British extreme metal record label Earache Records stated that "....the likes of Trey Azagthoth and Morbid Angel based what they were doing in their formative years on the Possessed blueprint laid down on the legendary Seven Churches recording. Possessed arguably did more to further the cause of 'Death Metal' than any of the early acts on the scene back in the mid-late 80's."[14]

"The Exorcist" is covered on the 2008 album Inflikted by Cavalera Conspiracy.

In August 2014, Revolver placed Seven Churches on its "14 Thrash Albums You Need to Own" list.[15]

Track listingEdit

1."The Exorcist"Mike TorraoTorrao, Mike Oldfield4:51
2."Pentagram"Jeff BecerraTorrao3:34
3."Burning in Hell"BecerraTorrao3:10
4."Evil Warriors"BecerraTorrao3:44
5."Seven Churches"BecerraTorrao, Larry LaLonde3:14
6."Satan's Curse"TorraoTorrao4:15
7."Holy Hell"BecerraTorrao4:11
8."Twisted Minds"BecerraTorrao5:10
9."Fallen Angel"BecerraTorrao3:58
10."Death Metal"BecerraTorrao3:14
Total length:39:21


  • Jeff Becerra − vocals, bass
  • Larry LaLonde − guitar
  • Mike Torrao − guitar
  • Mike Sus − drums
  • Randy Burns − keyboard on tracks 1 and 9


  1. ^ a b Schalek, Dave. "Essential Death Metal Albums". Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Possessed: Seven Churches". AllMusic. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Rankin, Judge (July 1986). "Possessed: Seven Churches (Combat)". Spin. ISSN 0886-3032.
  4. ^ a b Konow, David (2002). Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal (page 234). Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80732-3.
  5. ^ Christe, Ian (February 17, 2004). Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal (page 142). It Books. ISBN 0-380-81127-8.
  6. ^ Peel, John; Mudrian, Albert (2004). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X.
  7. ^ Purcell, Natalie J. (2003). Death Metal Music: The Passion and Politics of a Subculture (page 54). McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1585-1.
  8. ^ McIver, Joel (2008). The Bloody Reign of Slayer. Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84772-109-5.
  9. ^ Ekeroth, Daniel (2008). Swedish Death Metal (page 12). Bazillion Points. ISBN 978-0-9796163-1-0.
  10. ^ Peel, John; Mudrian, Albert (2004). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore (page 70). Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X.
  11. ^ Dio, Ronnie James; Bukszpan, Daniel (October 1, 2003). The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal (page 88). Sterling Publishing. ISBN 0-7607-4218-9.
  12. ^ Wilson, Steven; Wagner, Jeff (December 1, 2010). Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal (page 161). Bazillion Points. ISBN 0-9796163-3-6.
  13. ^ Mudrian, Albert (July 14, 2009). Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces (page 59). Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81806-X.
  14. ^ "Interview with Jeff Becerra". Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  15. ^ "14 Thrash Albums You Need to Own". August 29, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2014.