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Like the extreme music they created, San Francisco's Possessed seemed cursed by dark and evil forces throughout their troubled career. Formed by guitarist Mike Torrao and drummer Mike Sus in 1983, the group would lose first singer Barry Fisk to suicide before even graduating out of their garage band status. They persisted though, and after recruiting vocalist/bassist Jeff Becerra and guitarist Brian Montana, the band was offered a slot on Brian Slagel's Metal Massacre 6 compilation. Possessed's savage sound immediately stood out from their competition and drew the attention of Combat Records, with whom they signed in 1985 after replacing Montana with guitarist Larry LaLonde. Issued later that year, the brutal Seven Churches was arguably the first true death metal album and set the stage for the genre's breakaway from thrash. Their second effort, Beyond the Gates, was released, fittingly enough, on Halloween 1986, but didn't have the same impact as its predecessor. After recording the five-track EP The Eyes of Horror the following year (produced by LaLonde's guitar teacher Joe Satriani), the band decided to call it quits. Two years later, frontman Becerra was shot during a mugging and left paralyzed from the waist down. LaLonde would go on to a long career with quirky trio Primus and Torrao went as far as recording some demos with a new Possessed lineup before dismantling the group once again. A compilation called Victims of Death was released in 1993.
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