GOD - Possession (Retrospective)
Village stalwart Izzy is stepping up the retrospective game, and will henceforth deliver a fresh one every Friday! Make sure to check in weekly for a dose of nostalgia. - Ed.
Written by: Izzy
Have you ever wondered what John Zorn sodomizing a saxophone at a Godflesh concert would sound like? Well, if so, firstly let me say you have excellent taste, and secondly, I think it would sound a hell of a lot like God’s 1992 cult classic Possession.
For the shamefully uninitiated, God are a strange and short lived band formed in 1987 with an expansive list of semi-notable underground musicians that have occupied its roster. They employed a rather bizarre and grotesque blend of industrial metal, avant-garde jazz, and noise rock, resulting in an aberrant creation I truly feel no reservations in calling one of a kind. A frenzied and insane concoction of influences, Possession is an album that, if released today into the musical landscape of streaming and accessibility, would no doubt in my mind be hailed as a masterpiece.
There is something so engulfing about the mania of Possession. It evokes the unsettling and frigid unfeeling sensation of Swans’ work, but with a much more menacing and violent atmosphere. It draws you in with it’s psychedelic heaviness and leaves you enthralled; it makes its almost 70 minutes feel like nothing, and maybe it’s just because I recently saw The Color Out of Space (2018) but I feel there’s absolutely an apocalyptic, lovecraftian sound to this album.
Crushing and hypnotic chugging guitar ominously couple with frantic free jazz saxophone wailing. You feel every blow as you’re struck by the crashing drums with their pounding and tribalistic cadence. This album truly feels like a religious experience--not that of a benevolent ruler, but a prayer to a jealous tyrant that demands thoughtless devotion or an excruciating death. Its trancelike heaviness and trampling groove juxtaposed with the maddening rapturous shriek of brass assaults the senses in a way defying description, and in a way where it completely controls your attention.
Many bands have tried to capture the cosmic terror and dread which encompasses the work of H.P. Lovecraft, especially in the metal world, often done with little or no subtlety. Many of them end up simply sounding completely average, albeit with an equally gimmicky and gaudy aesthetic of otherworldly horrors. But God, by pure unintention, perfected the sound of unhinged fanaticism and lunacy brought forth by the manic acolytes and cultists of Lovecraft’s tales. Possession is a howling praise swallowed by an uncaring void, a slow descent into the depths of insanity, the chaotic cacophony of instruments brought forth in name of a malignant being, ambivalent to the horrific cry calling out its unspeakable name.
In spite of their rather short run of only nine years and two studio albums, God carved out a wholly unique sound for themselves and cemented their name in the annals of cult classics, a fate especially deserved considering their contemporaries. 1992 brought us many classics: A Blaze in The Northern Sky, Vulgar Display of Power, Onward To Golgotha, Souls At Zero. But even amongst God’s own it was an excellent year.
Remember that metaphor I used at the beginning? Well, that wasn’t entirely a joke. John Zorn and Justin Broadrick were both involved in the making of Possession, writing as well as playing, and that same year of 1992 we got Godflesh’s sophomore LP, Pure, and Zorn released his own exploration in drone/sludge metal, Leng Tch'e, the former to critical success and the latter to its own status as an underground classic. Not to mention, only a few years later would God’s founder Kevin Martin release his illbient masterpiece Re-Entry under his collaborative project with Justin Broadrick, Techno Animal, which itself is an iconic underground album.
Possession is a combination of legendary artists at their best, pouring out their overflowing talent and creativity into numerous projects at once, it would almost seem as a mentality of “throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks” were it not for how exceptionally calculated and genius the work of these giants have always created their music with, God’s music is an amalgamation made from the ideas of some of music’s own living, breathing gods.
God - Possession was released in 1992 by Caroline and Virgin Records
God can be found...pretty much nowhere on the internet.
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!