By now you’ve had ample opportunity to join in on the occasionally great ruckus of the London, England area stoner/sludge metal roller coaster or, at least the rare budgie that manages to flap a few waves worldwide. No excuses though, if the momentum of thrashing sludge-rockers Possessor hadn’t hit you ’til today as their fourth album finds the band on a label and sticking to their guns. Independence is key in the stubborn but solid progression of vocalist/guitarist Graham Bywater‘s noisome macabre exuberance and that’d been best exemplified within ‘The Ripper’ a few years back but this fourth full-length,’ Gravelands’, raises a fresh fist of hell and does so without losing sight of why the project stood out in the first place.
Bywater‘s intercom buzzed vocals and wide-swinging hard rock grooves lend themselves to an array of rhythmic ideas the pull from classic rock, punk, stoner metal and beyond for a sound that can resemble High on Fire (“Creature of Havoc”) one moment and Saviours the next. The vibe is still groove heavy stoner metal through and through but Possessor do whip out a sort of thrash/extreme metal influenced wick every so often when a song calls for an extra hit of energy; They never go too hard with it a la Maleveller or Oozing Wound but you could put ’em all on a bill together and be satisfied. ‘Gravelands’ is probably the most relaxed jam of Possessor‘s discography thus far but also the most memorable thanks to tracks like “Breathe Fire” and opener “Flight of the Mutilator”; The inherent stylistic progression of the project remains minor and avoids any certain alienation when approaching their discography from any angle.
So, what has changed along the way? The addition of Fuckjar‘s Ellie Matthews on bass guitar has accentuated the Motörhead-esque grind of Possessor to some degree and this ends up feeling like the role has finally been filled by a specialist. The production values are additionally (well, slightly) lifted away from the somewhat abrasive nature of ‘The Ripper’ by way of Wayne Adams who has impressed with his work on recent albums from notables Green Lung, Allfather, and Opium Lord and handles the engineering, mixing and mastering in full this time around. The scuzz levels are set to about a five ‘o clock shadow though things get hairier on the heavier angle Side B takes. If you’re ever in the mood for a punk n’ thrash-kicked mid-to-late 90’s stoner metal that keeps it rock n’ roll along the way ‘Gravelands’ is a pretty good argument that Possessor are the band for the job. It might seem a bit average and simplistic at first but the majority of this album is clever and generally memorable. Moderately high recommendation. For preview purposes I’d suggest “Flight of the Mutilator” makes a fantastic first impression and “Backwoods” kinda nails it in a foot deeper but the big jam on my end was witnessing “Breathe Fire” punch out the car window with its catchy stoner metal feeling.
An oath with the creeps. 3.75/5.0
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