Gloriously merging the ’80s bay-area thrash sounds of ‘Kill ‘Em All’–era Metallica, first generation death metal bands such as Death and Sepultura, and early 00’s The Crown, ‘House of Possession’, the debut album from Norway’s Shakma, is an energetic, raw, feast of thrash-death delicacies!
When Witchery exhumed themselves back in ’98 with their classic debut ‘Restless and Dead’, the world couldn’t get enough of it! By all rights, this should be the case with ‘House of Possession’. This album is visceral, gritty thrash-death that’s steeped in B-move horror and drenched in the raw energy that made the thrash scene of the ’80s the landmark it was. Vocalist M. Runic has a coarse ’80s death metal rasp in his vicious delivery reminiscent of early Death (see the tell-tale “Blood Ritual” or “Specters of Death”) and Sepultura (see “The Mummy’s Curse” or “Knife of the Prowler”), which sets a serious tone to the songs. Frenetic riffing and frantic drumming with overarching use of groove and melody keep the album running at full tilt from start to finish. Horror movie themes abound lyrically and are delivered with the energetic intensity thrash is known for and with just enough snarl to add an air of danger warding off any campy overtones. Try as you might, you won’t find any filler here its track after track of break neck thrash metal that keeps the spirit alive and effectively walks the fine line of fresh vs derivative. Album standout and title track House of Possession is wrought with a classic ’80s thrash vibe and fantastic, fingertip blistering, riffs that would fit in perfectly on Metallica’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’. Groove-laced Midnight Mass slows things down a bit for a spine tingling experience that would fit nicely on any early 00’s disc from The Crown or even some of Entombed’s turn of the century releases. While tracks like Into the Fiery Death and Knife of the Prowler summon a feverish ‘The Legacy’-era Testament vibe in their pacing and scale choices. In a way, The Crown’s ‘Possessed 13’ went for a similar effect but that release, while arguably the last “great” album from the Swedish masters, has been bested here. ‘House of Possession’ triumphs by boasting ten songs of lean, dirty thrash-death: each with their own characteristics rather than an, all too often, generic, blasting onslaught. The production is grainy but balanced and befitting of the bands style: leaving the contagious live energy intact without rounding the savage corners for a commercial appeal.
In order to stand out the band may need to take on some more definitive sound qualities in the form of trademark effects or tones but all the same if its thrash-death you crave this should take you on a harrowing ride! Make no mistake, ‘House of Possession’ is a blistering debut full of the fire and ferocity the thrash scene so desperately needs. While the bands predecessors may have lost their edge, become over commercialized and over produced Shakma are snapping at the end of the leash to take on the underground!