One of the taglines for 1987 genre classic The Gate was, “They have opened The Gate. Pray it’s not too late.” That same ominous phrase should be uttered anytime UK horror-hounds plug into their amps. Formed in 2013, Possessor has demolished audiences with their unabashedly heavy sludgehammer. With 5 LPs and 6 EPs during that time, Possessor founder Graham Bywater constantly crafts riffs that will crush skulls and summon devils. But the trio’s new record is a beast of a different plague. While retaining the fuzz and scuzz of the band’s foundational sound, this record pushes their sonic barbarism into surprising territories. With whispers of melody and a rollicking prog-rock lawlessness, Damn the Light sounds like a band guided by creative whimsy.
Written and recorded during the pandemic, Damn the Light is the band’s most dynamic release. “Bloodsuckers” has a vampiric groove that sounds like High on Fire sprouting blessed black wings. Album standout “Take it to the Grave” balances disarming Uncle Acid vocal sensibilities with a rugged, muddy Conan vibe. “Razorback” sharpens it’s tusks before launching the song’s feral charge. The title track is a contemplative riff-monster that feels like it emerged from subterranean caverns to inspire global headbanging. By the time the churning low-end of “Return to Slaughter High” fades, Possessor have stirred every closed crypt with their sneering, shadow-dwelling horror sludge. When the album’s first notes thunder your way, you could pray it’s not too late to stop the coming storm of distortion. But why in the name of Matt Pike would you want to?
Murder the sun with Possessor before Damn the Light is released from APF Records on October 30th. Also scroll further to read thoughts from Possessor founder Graham Bywater. But first, crawl from your sewer dwelling and press play on this fuzzy-riffed beast.
Decibel Magazine interview with Possessor vocalist/guitarist Graham Bywater
The band has been extremely prolific, with 5 LPs and even more EPs across 7 years. To what demonic presence do we owe your endless well of riffs and energy?
Graham Bywater: I get inspired by a lot of music, a lot of films and lot of books, as well as my friends and family. It’s been a very unusual and challenging year as well, so the negative energy has perhaps been responsible for the conjuring up of some of the unhinged riffage.
To be honest I don’t think five albums in six years is anything amazing. If you look at bands like The Ramones, KISS, and The Kinks, those guys were releasing two albums a year, sometimes three! I do find it difficult to rest with Possessor though, and I try to ensure we leave some sort of a legacy when we are gone. I have tons of unreleased riffs and ideas waiting to be used for something. If and when this band finishes, I will probably just start something else and release as much music as physically possible until I crash and burn! I like to plan ahead when it comes to making music.
Damn the Light is the rare sequel that’s even better than the preceding entries. What changes did you want to make to the sound of this record?
GB: Thanks, that’s very kind of you to say! Well, for starters having a new drummer (Nathan Perrier) onboard instantly injected a fresh and frenzied attack. That dude is a fully-fledged heavy metal machine, a bit of a change up from the more hard rock/punk drums of our past records. This was noticeable from the moment we first plugged in, as was the volume in which he plays. He’s like a rhythmic tank!
With Damn the Light I was also very keen to make a slightly longer and more epic record. Kinda like thrashy prog. I’m not a fan of overly drawn out records as such, but I felt that this one needed a far more embryonic and expansive feel; almost like the very roots and influences on Possessor needed to be present throughout. And it deserved to breathe a little more.
Damn the Light was written completely during the pandemic. What unexpected frustrations or joys did the new song writing process create, especially with new members in the band?
GB: Well, it was certainly a peculiar experience going into the studio having not played 90% of the material together. We knew the songs inside-out, but up until that point we had been writing and rehearsing from our separate homes during lock-down and exchanging our ideas via Whatsapp. Some of it took a lot of dissecting but the majority we were happy with very quickly. Most of the song structures are no different to my home demos, just noticeably a lot faster and a fuck-ton heavier. I’m happy with how it came out given the situation, and I’d be happy to write and prepare like this again in the future. It was intense but creative.
The band incorporates a cornucopia of horror imagery in each record. What are some underrated or underseen horror films you recommend to fans during the Halloween season?
GB: Good question! I could be here all day. Cold Prey is a creepy and often overlooked Norwegian gem from 2006. It’s a standard stalk and slash film, but is made way more menacing by the claustrophobic, icy outdoor settings. As is often the case, ignore the sequels.
The Loved Ones is a goddamn gem from Australia, and one of my favorite Halloween films. Why Robin McCleavy hasn’t gone onto much bigger things is a mystery. Watch it! Much fun. Much carnage. And a suitably gnarly one for this time of year!
The Dead Pit, Motel Hell and Deranged are all worth a watch. Deranged being an absolute ‘top ten horror of all time’ for me. It’s a sadistic little Ed Gein inspired flick that has the darkest of humor and the most bizarre atmosphere that truly lingers. Grindhouse perfection, and surprisingly very well made!
The Mutilator is a good Halloween flick, too! Very light in tone until the insane kills begin.
You can’t go wrong with a bit of Myers or Vorhees at this time of year though. My current favorite is Friday the 13th, Part 6. And if all else fails, have a date night with Last House on The Left or Nekromatik. Then get drunk and watch Deathgasm.
What do you have planned for Possessor beyond 2020?
GB: Given the current global shitstorm, who knows man? Most of this year’s festival appearances have been postponed so we will have to just wait and see. In the meantime, I’ve already started writing our next release which I think we plan to be an EP and include some outtakes from Damn the Light. I think one of the only redeeming things about this situation is we can still make music and not prepare for deadlines so much. We do miss the stage though. You can’t beat that feeling.