Great Metal Albums of 1986: Possessed- Beyond the Gates

On that evening in November, 1986, in Camden Town, London, after moshing and stage diving to the English Dogs and Voivod, headliners for the evening, Possessed, hit the stage. The band made its appearance with the demand from lead singer and bassist, Jeff Becerra, “Let’s see some blood!” They then went into a mad frenzy of thrash metal which only seemed to increase in speed the longer they were up on stage. And sometime into their set, they got to see some blood when a would be stage diver dove from the stage, only for the crowd to part causing the diver to hit his head on the floor. His head was cut but he seemed otherwise all right.

Listening to the many thrash albums from 1986, I have discovered a recurring theme in most of them. It seems the first track is a mellow, acoustic or classical sounding instrumental, intent to lure you into a false sense of security before blasting your brains with fast powerful chords. It’s the same case with Possessed’s album, “Beyond the Gates.” The opening track is very melodic before “The Heretic” comes in to pulverize your ear drums.

“Beyond the Gates” is somewhere in between the albums by the English Dogs and the Cro-Mags. With this album, you get eleven songs in just over thirty-six minutes although the opener and closer are both instrumentals each lasting exactly one minute and twenty-three seconds. In between that you get nine mad, thrash songs.

Several interesting points come to mind when listening to “Beyond the Gates.” The first is on the track, “Tribulation” where guitarists Mike Torrao and Larry LaLonde trade off guitar solos in a way comparable to King and Hanneman. BTW, if the name Larry LaLonde sounds familiar, yes, he is the guy who would later go onto play in some obscure band called Primus.

Another point is while most songs are pure unadulterated thrash, the track “Phantasm” shows that the band can slow it up when needed without losing any intensity. This bears fruit on my choice for song of the album, “No Will to Live.” It is the longest track on the album at nearly seven minutes long but the way Possessed changes things up throughout the song definitely holds your interest. Even to the point where Jeff Becerra changes his tempo in his vocals. What makes this song unique is that the mosh instrumental part and guitar solo trade offs are saved until the final minute bringing the song to a very cool end.

What I didn’t know at the time was that this was Possessed’s second album. The reason why I hadn’t heard of their debut album, “Seven Churches” at the time was that it had been banned from major record stores on account of the cover showing an upside down cross. If I had known, I would have bought the album just for that.

Track Listing:

  1. Intro
  2. The Heretic
  3. Tribulation
  4. March to Die
  5. Phantasm
  6. No Will to Live
  7. Beyond the Gates
  8. The Beasts of the Apocalypse
  9. Seance
  10. Restless Dead
  11. Dog Fight

Jeff Becerra- bass, vocals

Mike Torrao- guitar

Larry LaLonde- guitar

Mike Sus- drums

Originally, “Beyond the Gates” was heavily criticized for its ‘muddy’ production. I don’t hear it but that’s me. However, these days, it’s being looked upon as a great album that got overlooked and it has even been said that it connects the dots between thrash and death metal. I can agree with that.

Next post: Alice Cooper- Constrictor

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

8 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Possessed- Beyond the Gates”

  1. My wife just told me to turn it down…:)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You make this one sound amazing – plus I love that cover art. It’s on the list.

    Liked by 2 people

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