Possessor call themselves “occult metal” but this descriptor does not quite cover it because there’s more fuzzy riff-worship on offer here than there is paranormal exploration. Similar to fellow British band Mage, they quickly get into their stride with a classic heavy sound, a bass that sounds like a rusting WW1 tank driving over your face, galloping guitars that gouge out your guts and drums that pound a metallic rhythm that feels like it has been playing since before time began.
Generally, these Londoners approach their song-writing with a view to creating a killer riff and building the track around it. No messing about with these guys – play it hard, play it loud. Musically, it’s like Pantera and L7 got together to play High On Fire songs – groovy, catchy, punchy, full of attitude. The haunted, rough-edged vocals occasionally lack variety and rely too much on one particular ‘echo’ effect, but they suit the music perfectly and are reminiscent of the old Acrimony frontman Dorrian.
High-octane drum work and a prominent snare provide an insistent motivation to swing your beard, or whatever else is at hand, particularly on the monstrous instrumental track ‘Skeletal Form’. As the band have joked: “Metallica brought you ‘Orion’, we bring you ‘Skeletal Form’.” It is four-and-a-half minutes of old-school riff heaven. Elsewhere there are echoes of crust and thrash metal, including song titles such as ‘Limb From Limb’ and ‘Chasms Of Malice’, making this a particularly snarling, energetic brand of stoner doom. Sorry, misery fans! Possessor rarely slow down and when they do it’s only to take a breath before launching into another twisted hook.
This album is often a bruising encounter. At just 32 minutes, there’s not a lot of ‘Electric Hell’, but there’s plenty to get your teeth into. Some of the tracks last for less than two minutes, presumably to avoid getting bogged down. The ideas come thick and fast, but sometimes things seem to rush past in a bit of blur – ‘Castle Of Bastards’, for example, is over almost before it begins. Even some of the longer compositions are crying out to be developed further, such as the album-closing title track, which would benefit from a little more innovation around its jangling focal riff in order to finish on a high.
Forget about the pink album artwork – it’s time to let yourself be possessed. ‘Electric Hell’ might just release your inner demon.