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Possessed is an American death metal band, originally formed in 1983. Noted for their fast style of playing and Becerra's guttural vocals, they have been cited as a great influence on the death metal genre. In fact, the band's influence on the genre is so great, they are sometimes called the "godfathers" of the death metal genre and are often considered the first death metal group, with the name of the genre possibly coming from their first demo entitled Death Metal. After breaking up in 1987, and briefly reforming from 1990 to 1993, the band reformed under original bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra in 2007.


The band originated in San Franciscomarker, Californiamarker in 1983, when guitarist Mike Torrao and drummer Mike Sus's garage band recruited Jeff Becerra following the suicide of vocalist Barry Fisk and departure of bassist Geoff Andrews, formerly of Exodus . Brian Montana was recruited on guitar, and the first incarnation of Possessed was created. The following years were spent practicing and working on their sound by performing at local venues. After live shows with Exodus, the latter group brought the band's three-song demo recording to the attention of Brian Slagel, head of Metal Blade Records. Slagel showed interest in the band and offered to put one of their songs on an upcoming compilation, Metal Massacre 6. The track included was titled "Swing of the Axe." Following the release of the compilation, guitarist Brian Montana left the band due to creative differences. He was replaced by Larry Lalonde. Although Metal Blade did not offer to sign the band, the compilation drew the attention of Combat Records. Possessed signed with the label and released the album Seven Churches in 1985.

Possessed followed the release with a supporting tour which included a performance with Slayer and Venom at San Franciscomarker's Kabuki in 1986. On Halloween, 1986, Possessed released their second album, Beyond the Gates. The following May, the band issued a five-song EP titled The Eyes of Horror which marked a change in direction for the band. The Satanic themes they had become noted for were completely absent, and the songs had more of a thrash metal style than their earlier death metal. The EP was produced by guitarist Joe Satriani, and some of the songwriting was done by Lalonde, rather than Becerra and Torrao who had written most of the band's earlier material.

Shortly after the release of the Eyes of Horror EP the band disbanded. In 1990, Jeff Becerra was paralyzed from the waist down following a shooting incident.

Mike Torrao reformed Possessed in 1990 with new line-ups consisting of former members of Machine Head and Pro-Pain. They recorded two demos before dissolving in 1993. Mike Torrao has said he feels it was not Possessed, but merely playing under the Possessed name.

In 2007, it was announced Jeff Becerra would be performing under the "Possessed" name at the Wacken Open Airmarker festival and would be backed by all members of 'Sadistic Intent', one of the bands featured on the Possessed tribute, and would also headline the Gathering of the Bestial Legions III festival in Los Angeles.

Musical style

Possessed is often cited as the first death metal band, largely because of Jeff Becerra's grunted vocals. Guitarist Mike Torrao, who wrote most of the band's music, has repeatedly cited early Exodus and Venom as Possessed's main influences, and denies being influenced at all by Slayer. The lyrical content in most of the band's songs focused on Satanism and death. While the band's first album, Seven Churches, was praised for its speed and the brutality of the vocals, the second album, Beyond the Gates, disappointed both fans and critics alike. Released on Halloween of 1986, the album wasn't as powerful and as influential as its predecessor, and the band's popularity suffered because of it. Because of Possessed's earlier material being more popular than their later work, they are most often remembered for their first album, Seven Churches.

Original line-up today

Jeff Becerra 2008 at Jalometalli
Jeff Becerra continues to play a role in the death, black, and thrash metal scenes of Northern California. He received a degree in labor studies and plans to pursue a law degree. He has revamped the band 2007.

Mike Sus went on to get a degree in psychology and is helping injured people to live a normal everyday life. He is also a drug addiction counselor.

Larry LaLonde joined the Bay Area thrash metal band Blind Illusion which released The Sane Asylum in 1988, after which Lalonde with Blind Illusion bassist Les Claypool went on to form the influential progressive rock band Primus in 1989.

In 1993, Mike Sus reportedly retired from music to pursue other careers.

In 1993, Mike Torrao founded a new thrash band, Iconoklast, but never released any songs to the public. Iconoklast broke up in 1996. He has since worked as a landscaper and plays music only in his sparetime. As of 2008, Mike Torrao is working with the band INaCAGE. in the San Francisco Bay Areamarker

In 2008, Emilio Marquez announced he was leaving the band. Vanik Vartanian was to take his place until a permanent drummer is found. He has returned shortly after.


Studio albums

Date of Release Title Label
1985 Seven Churches Relativity Records/Combat Records
1986 Beyond the Gates Relativity Records/Combat Records

Live albums

Date of Release Title Label
2004 Agony in Paradise Agonia Records


Date of Release Title Label
1992 Victims of Death Relativity Records/Combat Records
2003 Resurrection Agonia Records
2006 Ashes from Hell Boneless records


Date of Release Title Label
1984 Death Metal Independent
1987 The Eyes of Horror (EP) Combat
1991 1991 Demo
1992 1993 Demo


Current members

  • Jeff Becerra - vocals (1983–1987, 2007-present)+ bass (1983-1987)
  • Ernesto Bueno - guitar (2007-present)
  • Rick Cortez - guitar (2007-present)
  • Bay Cortez - bass guitar (2007-present)
  • Emilio Marquez - drums (2007-2008, 2008-present)

Former members

  • Mike Torrao - guitar (1983–1987) (1990-1993) + vocals (1990-1993)
  • Brian Montana - guitar (1983–1984)
  • Barry Fisk - vocals (1983) (pre-Possessed)
  • Geoff Andrews - bass (1983) (pre-Possessed)
  • Kurt Zanzi - Guitar (1983) (pre-Possessed)
  • Larry LaLonde - guitar (1984–1987)
  • Mike Hollman - guitar (1993)
  • Paul Perry - bass (1992-1993)
  • Mike Sus - drums (1983–1987)
  • Colin Carmichael - drums (1990)
  • Bob Yost - bass (1990 –1992)
  • Vanik Vartanian - drums (2008) (never really was in the band!)
  • Duane Connley - guitar (1990)
  • Dave Alex Couch - guitar (1990-1991)
  • Chris Stolle - drums (1990-1991)
  • Walter Ryan - drums (1991-1993)
  • Mark Strausburg - guitar (1991-1993)


In 2004, a tribute album, Seven Gates of Horror, was released and included covers by Cannibal Corpse, Vader, God Dethroned, Amon Amarth, and others. "The Exorcist" (covered on the album by Sadistic Intent and featuring guest vocals by Becerra) was covered earlier by Cannibal Corpse on their Hammer Smashed Face EP.


  1. Possessed - Seven Churches review, Ed Rivadavia, Allmusic: "The band definitely displayed a strong Slayer influence; but it was ... Jeff Becerra who first introduced the barely decipherable grunting vocal style which would epitomize the death metal genre."
  2. Possessed band page, Ed Rivadavia, Allmusic: "The brutal Seven Churches was arguably the first true death metal album and set the stage for the genre's breakaway from thrash."
  3. Encyclopaedia Metallum: "Possessed are hailed as the godfathers of the death metal genre ... They're considered the first death metal group with the name coming from their first demo entitled, Death Metal.
  4. MusicMight :: Artists :: POSSESSED )))
  5. Possessed Bio @ The Gauntlet
  6. Possessed: Biography, Discography
  7. Twisted Minds, Possessed history
  8. - Possessed: Where Are They Now?
  9. Frank Stover interviews Jeff Becarra
  10. Eduardo Rivadavia, Review of Possessed, Beyond the Gates, Allmusic: "[The album] wound up coming as a disappointment to most critics and fans alike . . . transforming a sound previously distinguished for its inexorable power into a ragged, decidedly weaker-kneed replacement."
  11. Eduardo Rivadavia, Possessed band page, Allmusic: "Their second effort, Beyond the Gates, was released, fittingly enough, on Halloween 1986, but didn't have the same impact as its predecessor."
  12. Jeff Becerra @ MySpace
  13. Possessed - Where Are They Now?, on Metal Rules July 2001
  14. Twisted Minds, Possessed - Where Are They Now?
  15. The official INaCAGE website

External links

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