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Possession – Disentombed Manifestations

Disentombed Manifestations
by Matt Bozenda at 06 September 2020, 8:17 PM

What a time to be living through a global pandemic. With a few notable exceptions, musicians are by and large putting off studio plans or delaying entry while details are sorted out. What are the record labels to do then? Well, there’s plenty of music in the ol’ archives, master tapes sealed in a vault or maybe in a cabinet, and with plenty of time to kill, vintage tunes are seeing a rebirth in reissues and remasters. The sounds from metal’s decades past are finding new life again.

But perhaps unlife is the correct term when dealing in metal. You’ll find few glorious resurrections but plenty of reanimations, zombified metal albums lurching about seeking new brains. It’s also not uncommon that these albums are getting the Frankenstein treatment, being pieced together from full-length albums and EPs and demos to create a new release more than the sum of its parts. Xtreem Music may have broken the shovel and gone quite mad to combine the past works of POSSESSION into a quintessential and comprehensive singularity in the form of the aptly named "Disentombed Manifestations".

To understand this double-length monster’s composition you need only to know the band’s discography. POSSESSION’S only full-length release, 1995’s "Eternally Haunt" is back-ended by the 1997 EP "Scourge And Fire" to comprise CD 1. The other disc contains the EP "The Unnameable Suffering" followed by the demo "Mad Crazed And Violent", both originally put forth in 1993. Though it runs the chronological gamut, there is a definite consistency to the band’s sound, a Death and Thrash affair screaming and growling it’s way out of that metal mecca of… Kansas. Geography be damned, however, as even the most ardent church burning metalhead would be hard-pressed to find much they dislike about this compilation.

To start, "Eternally Haunt" feels like old hat, vintage 90’s Death Metal, strong as steel. Everything from "Opening A Doorway Into A Cult/Beyond The Grave" through "The Return" slips on like a chainmail glove. Each track has a uniqueness to it, whether it’s the downright groove of "Sounds Of Sorrow" or the chaotic battle of "Legion". An instrumental interlude in "Despair" gives a breather before "Shades Of Death" comes rumbling in, blending the vocal styles to complement each other, rather than fighting for presence. The bass-heavy "Possessed" features a return of the groove, and the ender "Rebirth" tricks the listener into believing this will be another down tempo song, but that illusion is quickly dashed over the course of the original album’s longest and final track.

The "Scourge And Fire" EP begins on a strong title track which reaffirms the band’s symmetry of Death and Thrash. A faithful cover of KING DIAMOND’s "Shrine" offers a glimpse into the band’s roots, and further demonstrates their abilities. The previously unreleased "The Manifestation", recorded in ‘98, presents a high water mark for the band creatively; they would unfortunately split within a couple years, coming apart just as their sound showed hints of evolution. Another cover, this time of IRON MAIDEN’s "Revelations", takes a bit of a departure from both the original and their own sound, yet still makes use of both to close out the first half of the double album.

The second disc contains earlier or otherwise alternate versions of songs from the first, with one exception, an unreleased demo from 1995 called "Have No Fear". Each of the earlier versions gives a good accounting of how the band did only a little to alter their signature sound as they grew, but each track from disc two is at least as good as the versions of disc one.

Two CDs, twenty-nine tracks, and over two-and-a-half hours later, "Disentombed Manifestations" leaves little question as to why this band was chosen for a compilation rerelease. There is tragically little material recorded by POSSESSION and that’s a real shame, as they could have been underground sensations. For the time when this band was, they really fit the mold, but for their place, they clearly did not. Kansas isn’t exactly renowned for its metal scene, except maybe MANILLA if you really want something to grasp, so the deck may have been stacked against them from the beginning.

And again, that’s a shame. "Disentombed Manifestations" really contains some quality tracks, and POSSESSION sounded poised to make an impact on American metal. At least now they have a proper memorial.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Disc 1
1. Opening A Doorway Into The Occult/Beyond The Grave
2. Sounds Of Sorrow
3. The Mastery
4. Legion
5. The Return
6. Despair
7. Shades Of Death
8. Steel Jaws Of Fate
9. Possessed
10. Rebirth
11. Scourge & Fire
12. Danse Macabre
13. Shrine (King Diamond cover)
14. The Manifestation (Unreleased ‘98)
15. Revelations (Iron Maiden cover ‘98)

Disc 2
1. Seer’s Vision
2. Sounds Of Sorrow
3. Have No Fear
4. Seer’s Vision
5. Danse Macabre
6. Shades Of Death
7. The Mastery
8. Have No Fear
9. Possessed
10. Beyond The Grave
11. Legion
12. Steel Jaws of Fate
13. Rebirth
14. The Return
Lance Whipple – Bass
Nyk Edinger – Vocals
Mike Vinson – Guitars
Shayne Scholl – Guitars
Shane Goade – Drums
Record Label: Xtreem Music


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