JEFF BECERRA: ‘POSSESSED Was The Very First Death Metal Band’

Jeff Becerra

During a recent conversation with Jerry Kurunen from Finland’s Rauta, POSSESSED frontman Jeff Becerra the was questioned if his band was correctly acknowledged for being the first to use the phrase “death metal” back in 1983.

“One hundred percent,” he responded. “I had the copyright in 1983. POSSESSED was the very first death metal band. That doesn’t mean we created death metal; it just means we were the first [to call ourselves death metal]. ‘Cause every band after that does their own s**t. So, yeah, we were just the first, man. And I’m surprised somebody didn’t think of it before, to be honest. It’s so obvious.

He continued: “Back then, you’ve gotta realize, with very few exceptions — maybe SLAYER, KREATORSODOM, DESTRUCTION, EXODUS — most thrash metal bands were — and with all due respect — were kind of bouncy kind of hair bands. They would say, ‘Oh, we’re so heavy,’ but they were never really heavy. ‘We’re so evil.’ And there was nothing wrong with that, but that just isn’t what blew our skirts up.

“I happened to meet [former POSSESSED guitarist] Mike Torrao at a very pivotal moment in our life, and we were just, like, ‘F**k the world. F**k everything. And let’s just make the heaviest, most Satanic music in the world.’ And trash metal was taken, black metal was taken, speed metal was taken, f**king power metal was taken. Why not death metal? Like, ‘Okay.’ So then I wrote a song called ‘Death Metal’, and that was it. But it was more about the music and then the title, but the title seemed to outweigh the music. I don’t know.

“These days POSSESSED get a lot more recognition, but we’re not one of those famous bands; we’re still underground,” Becerra added. You’re really lucky to be recognized within your lifetime.”

Despite DEATH‘s recognition as a pivotal and influential death metal band, their debut album Scream Bloody Gore didn’t hit the market until 1987. This was two years later than POSSESSED, which had already made its mark with Seven Churches in 1985.