While the artwork makes the impression that Stay Dead is going to be a fully analog experience, it isn’t quite as raw sounding as you would imagine. The guitars are tuned pretty low, and there’s a vocal distortion at work that can give certain songs the sensation similar to Ministry or even the cleaner presence on a Vampire Mooose album. The drums, however, sound pristine all around, though buried a bit due to the loud rumble of the bass guitar.
“Lucifer Stay Dead” introduces all of this with a more upbeat performance that meshes together the group’s sludge tendencies with a groove heavy presence, that still manages to come off as crushing as any straight-forward doom metal cut. The dropped tuning not only manages to give the song a dominant presence that makes banging your head along impossible to resist sometimes, but also just throw some of the southern attitude into the mix without blatantly coming off influenced by that region-specific sound. Much of this can also be said for the much shorter “Night of Venom”, though some of the drumming can come off more like an industrial presence compared to the previous track. It’s an odd change given the additional enthusiasm and technicality presented in the riffs throughout this one.
But then there’s the last two tracks. While “Cobwebs” is largely the same as “Night of Venom” as far as energy goes, this one is just incredibly muffled, as if someone slapped a sweater over the speakers or your headphones. The lead guitar does kind of return to normal just past the minute-and-a-half mark leading into the brief ballsy break and solo, but its a short-lived spurt of clarity thanks largely to the increase in volume heading into that segment. The only explanation is that it might be to play up with the brief audio sample at the end.
And then there’s “Lights Out/Crypt of the Sorcerer”, which is easily the most impressive of the four. Slow paced doom filled with sludgy goodness adorn this slow-moving haze, channeling the band’s inner stoner presence in full. Thanks to the vocal distortion, which is a little thinner, it can come off a bit like a restrained Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats before reaching the half-way point. By this time, the initially non-existent southern atmosphere does come through with bulky, bass fuelled riffs that eventually throw in some latter-era Carcass style riffs on par with “Keep On Rotting in the Free World”.
Even though it’s only four tracks sprawled across fifteen-and-a-half minutes, Stay Dead is actually quite the varied little sorcery filled hootenanny that doesn’t stick to the general confines of the predetermined style tags the group dabbles in. It’s just odd that one half of the release is vibrant and crisp, while the other is a bit more dull and muffled. Neither approach really hinders the EP any, so it’s nothing to really be worried much about. But to have something this well executed and defined from a relatively new group is actually enough to make any metal fan immediately take notice. Possessor is a band well worth keeping an eye on, and Stay Dead an EP equally as valuable to check out, especially since it’s also a “name your price” digital download on their official Bandcamp page.