Possession 1585-1646 01It’s no big revelation to state that music doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so in the spirit of spicing things up and non-sequitur literary devices, let’s talk hamburgers. Whether you want to innovate or go with the tried and true, what came before is almost as important as what you’re about to do. Putting cantaloupe on a burger is pretty inventive, but also stupid; the Liturgy Burger doesn’t sell very well at my hypothetical diner Diabolus in Moussaka, because while we bravely jettisoned traditional elements, we replaced them with something much less appealing, rendering this culinary innovation something worth tasting solely to say you did. Also floundering is the HM-2 Burger sans Great Riff Sauce, as why would anyone want to eat a vastly inferior version of something they’re familiar with that’s been around for decades when you can just enjoy the classics? Belgium’s Possession serve up the old fashioned Blackened Death Burger on 1585-1646, a concept EP about the life and death of a French witch. In the spirit of witches, let’s toss it into the cold lake of quality control and see if it floats, shall we?

Possession avoid the Nergal-core style of blackened death metal entirely, turning their musical clock much further back. The black and death metal they draw from tends to err closest to the “proto” variety, so expect to hear myriad nods to Bathory’s Under the Sign of the Black Mark, Hellhammer, and Mayhem circa Deathcrush. There are similarities to their fellow Belgians in Enthroned as well, particularly their 2014 monster Sovereigns. 1585-1646 eschews that record’s interesting melodic work in favor of playing a bunch of simplistic heavy riffs, aiming for a full-frontal assault instead of an exercise in nuance and subtlety. Such an approach is advisable if you’ve got engaging riffs to deliver, and Possession largely succeeds in that department.

The most rousing success is closing witch barn-burner “Ablaze,” which parrots some of Immortal’s melodic techniques in spots and also draws on “Pure Fucking Armageddon” pretty heavily in the verses. While the manic energy of Mayhem’s early days isn’t captured, the riffing is good and slowing it down to close the EP in a mid-paced headbanging manner is a nice touch, as is the Satanic rock n’ roll stomp that comprises the midsection. I’m reminded of retro fetishists Impious Baptism and Apokalyptic Raids throughout the mini-album, especially on “Ceremony” and “Guilty” with their bouts of explicit and enjoyable Hellhammer worship. Vocalist V. Viriakh adds some charisma to these songs, coming across as a less experienced but more hoarse and booze-soaked Nornagest (Enthroned). I quite enjoy Viriakh’s throwback phrasing and approach, with his vicious rasping over the slower verses of “Ceremony” being particularly noteworthy.

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Given that 1585-1646 is a mini-album and clocks in at a scant 25 minutes, you’d assume that Possession wouldn’t dawdle on an intro for nearly one quarter of the record. You’d be wrong, because that’s exactly what opener “Obscurity – Visitation” does. After nearly three minutes of a spooky Sounds of Nature review replete with chants, church bells, and stormy weather, a repetitive tremolo melody fades in and wears out its welcome before launching into the real meat of the track, a taut thrashy number that sounds like Bathory by way of Enthroned. There’s really not much else wrong with this mini-album, but having such an incredibly long introductory segment detracted from my desire to replay it and made 1585-1646 feel longer than it actually is in a pernicious way. I understand the desire to create an atmosphere, but the sheer amount of time spent on this section comes across as gratuitous.

Possession has wisely avoided one major retro pitfall with their production, handled by Phorgath of Enthroned. It’s dynamic, dirty, and live sounding, and given that the band’s precise and professional performance, doesn’t capture the tumult of early Mayhem and Bathory, I’m glad the production didn’t try to either. 1585-1646 is an enjoyable listen, but it doesn’t reach the heights of its influences or, in the case of Impious Baptism, its contemporaries. I’ll still return throughout the year sporadically, as these lads do bring some mean riffs to the table. Not quite necessary listening, but coolly recommended.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Invictus Productions | Iron Bonehead Productions
Websites: PossessionOfficial | Facebook.com/Possession
Release Date: Out Worldwide: 06.05.2015

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  • Jean-Luc Ricard

    That Liturgy burger sounds awesome.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I won’t disparage a man’s culinary choices! Although you should be warned, it’s grilled in Triple-HP sauce which many find pretentious (the bottle is made of recycled postmodern philosophy textbooks), but not using it is non-negotiable for the burger.

  • Grymm

    That first paragraph made me hungry, damnit.

    Good review!

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Thank you kind sir!

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        It’s way too early for a burger here… But! This sounds like something right up my alley. Doesn’t sound amazing but I can dig this travel back in time. And great review you burger-loving bastard you.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Thank you for the kind words Doctor! Don’t take this as a Canadian making fun of Americans, but are breakfast burgers not a thing? I had one in Charleston and it was awesome!

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Breakfast steak is ok, but burgers? Don’t know. Maybe my taste is clouded right now — the men’s room at our office has some bitchin’ new peppermint urinal mints, and now I feel like soapin’ up with Irish Spring while munching on After Eights.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            All of that just sounds horrible.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            A couple of my absolute best friends live in Toronto so make fun all you want because I make fun of Canadians constantly. I live in the Southwest so it’s all eggs and green chiles here. No breakfast burgers but I’m sure someone does it.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            That’s awesome, one of my best friends lives in Toronto as well and I’m actually headed there tonight to visit him. And someone must do breakfast burgers there, didn’t the Supreme Court rule that burgers need to be available at least once every square mile?

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Nice!!! I need to get back to Toronto soon. Cool place. And yes, there is a burger stand every 100 ft.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Ah, Toronto. I remember my days hanging out at Sam the Record Man and Kensington market. Many out here in the West say that Toronto acts like the rest of Canada revolves around it, but I have a fondness for it. Didn’t really think of Toronto as hamburger central when I lived there. What I enjoyed most was all the ethnic restaurants.

            Now, if you really want a good burger, y’all come out West. As the bumper stickers here say, if it ain’t Alberta, it ain’t beef.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            I need to get out to Alberta sometime and have one of those burgers. Another one of my best friends lives out in Jasper, heard it’s pretty awesome out there!

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Awesome indeed. Some great hikes too, if you’re in to that.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            By “soon” you should go with “June 20th” and head up with some friends to London because Bolt Thrower is playing a headlining gig and Cro-Mags are playing an afterparty!

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Son of a bitch!! Let me check my bank account… Nope, no damn way I can pull that off… That’ll be fun times!

  • Norfair Legend

    The great thing about this site is that I’m excited to read a review no matter the reviewer assigned to the case. Everyone has their distinct style yet all are written in an extremely fun and informative manner, then discussed in a thoughtful way by the reviewer and reader.

    Case in point the review above Diabolus. I am hungry, informed and curious all at the same time, which is why I have resorted to getting down on my knees for bit of AMG mayonnaise for my buttery, bunned meat. Kudos for the introduction as this is precisely the kind of mood I’m in on this dreary, cool Chicago morning.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      First off, your city makes some damn fine pizza. Second, thank you for the kind words! I think I speak for everyone when I say that we truly appreciate the awesome AMG community and the consistently high quality of discussion that comes with it.

  • ME GROG™

    GROG LIKE!!!!! BUT TOO LONG INTRO MAKE GROG MAAAAAD!!!!!!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I thought the new urinal mints made my day, but, no; this did!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I have a love/hate relationship with these atmospheric intros. When I hear one, I close my eyes and think, “ah, this is kind of pleasant”. But then I think, look, if such nature interludes appeal to you, maybe just get off your ass and go for a hike during a storm.

    The problem is that so many bands do such intros and interludes. AMG already complained about such things in a post, and still bands continue to do it. Is nothing sacred?

  • Trademark that restaurant name cause it’s gold, Jerry, GOLD!

    Cool review!

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Thank you Mr. Hell! Now to find me some Round-tine…

  • sweetooth0

    Long ass intros like that make this one sound like it’d be better to get on CD so you skip it after hearing it one time.

    • sweetooth0

      as opposed to vinyl that is

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    The problem with the Great Riff Sauce for the HM-2 Burger is that the Great Riff should be in the meat!

  • Doomdeathrosh

    You know what? Me likey! Nice review! and have a few veggie options in the Moussaka too (like cattle decapitation!)….