Seven Churches
Seven Churches
Album info
ReleaseOctober 16, 1985
RecordedLate March/early April 1985
GenreDeath metal
LabelRelativity/Combat (U.S.)
Roadrunner (Europe)
ProducerRandy Burns

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. ranked the album first in its list of "10 Essential Death Metal albums".[1]


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 Becerra and LaLonde had ample time for studio production.[2] Up until the release of the album, the band had practiced at manager Debbie Abono's house in Pinole,[2] but had formed in the El Sobrante/San Pablo area, which was the location of Torrao's and Sus' garage band.

In November of the same year, the band flew to Montreal, 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.[3]

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.[4]

Seven Churches has been interchangeably described as "connecting the dots between thrash metal and death metal",[5] being "monumental" in developing the death metal style,[6] and as being the "first death metal album",[7][8][9][10][11] 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.[12]

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."[13]

U.K. 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]

Track listingEdit

# Track title Lyrics Music Length
1. "The Exorcist" Torrao Torrao 4:51
2. "Pentagram" Becerra Torrao 3:34
3. "Burning in Hell" Becerra Torrao 3:10
4. "Evil Warriors" Becerra Torrao 3:44
5. "Seven Churches" Becerra Torrao, LaLonde 3:14
6. "Satan's Curse" Torrao Torrao 4:15
7. "Holy Hell" Becerra Torrao 4:11
8. "Twisted Minds" Becerra Torrao 5:10
9. "Fallen Angel" Becerra Torrao 3:58
10. "Death Metal" Becerra Torrao 3:14



  1. Schalek, Dave. Essential Death Metal Albums. Retrieved on December 13, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Konow, David (2002). Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal (page 234). Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80732-3. 
  3. 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. 
  4. (2004) Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X. 
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Allmusic
  6. Purcell, Natalie J. (2003). Death Metal Music: The Passion and Politics of a Subculture (page 54). McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1585-1. 
  7. McIver, Joel (2008). The Bloody Reign of Slayer. Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84772-109-5. 
  8. Ekeroth, Daniel (2008). Swedish Death Metal (page 12). Bazillion Points. ISBN 978-0-9796163-1-0. 
  9. (2004) Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore (page 70). Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X. 
  10. (October 1, 2003) The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal (page 88). Sterling Publishing. ISBN 0-7607-4218-9. 
  11. (December 1, 2010) Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal (page 161). Bazillion Points. ISBN 0-9796163-3-6. 
  12. 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. 
  13. Rankin, Judge (July 1986). "Possessed: Seven Churches (Combat)". Spin. ISSN 0886-3032. 
  14. Interview with Jeff Becerra. Retrieved on December 13, 2013.

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