Possessor - The Ripper - (7/10)
Published on December 7, 2017
Possessor is a London based trio that has kept remarkably busy since their 2013 formation. The band has just released their third full length album, The Ripper. Aside from the three full lengths, the band has also dropped six EPs (most of which are live releases, apparently). The band’s lyrics and imagery are largely borrowed from the horror scene, with a tracklisting that looks like it could be a list of forgotten B films.
Though the horror themes do come forward in the form of brief samples and sound bites, the band’s sound doesn’t borrow heavily from the bands that usually associate themselves with the horror scene; be it goregrind, horror punk, or death metal. Instead, the band brings a blend of rocking, southern fried sludge mixed with a dash of groove-laden thrashing. Despite the lyrics and themes straight out of Whitechapel, the band’s music sounds like it comes from the bayous of Louisiana. The short-lived thrashy bits see the band lifting themselves out of the swamps for a few moments at a time, but the majority of the album plays through like a long lost cousin of Crowbar or Corrosion of Conformity.
Guitarist/vocalist Graham Bywater certainly leads the charge with his gruff, whiskey and smokes delivery and swaggering, reverb-laden riffing. The rhythm section shines as well, with a heavy handed bass presence and simplistic yet effective percussion. The production sounds quite clear, despite still offering the music through clouds of smoke and haze. That being said, the songwriting, while competently performed and often quite catchy, doesn’t quite leave a lasting impression in an overcrowded scene. Perhaps it’s just the change of pace, but Possessor sound their strongest when the sludgy swagger gives way to base thrashing; sure it’s still simplistic but it delivers chest thumping bravado with aplomb.
Though The Ripper offers plenty that seasoned stoner/sludge/doom fans would find quite enjoyable, and the added dose of the occasional thrash movement gives Possessor a bit of differentiation from their contemporaries, its tough to find a lot of replay value. This type of music is best suited for a crowded, smokey bar stage, so it’s a tough translation into studio form. Possessor seems to have the basics down, and there are certainly plenty of catchy-ass riffs and grooves to be had, but the horror shtick doesn’t give this enough of an edge to really stand above the pack yet.