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Pestilence - Testimony of the Ancients  CD (album) cover

TESTIMONY OF THE ANCIENTS

Pestilence

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.55 | 37 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Testimony of the Ancients is the 3rd full-length studio album by Dutch death metal act Pestilence. The album was released in September 1991 by Roadrunner Records. The album was released on both CD and vinyl upon initial release. Roadrunner Records re-issued Testimony of the Ancients with Consuming Impulse (1989) in 2003 as part of the Two from the Vault series. So if you´re able to get your hands on that version, it´s quite the bargain to get two full albums for the price of one.

There´s been a significant lineup change since Consuming Impulse as bassist/ lead vocalist Martin Van Drunen left Pestilence in 1990. The band didn´t have luck to recruit a permanent replacement ( Nick Sagias replaced Martin Van Drunen but only lasted two months) and guitarist Patrick Mameli ended up taking over the vocal duties in addition to playing the guitar. The band didn´t recruit a permanent solution for the bass player spot either, but opted to have session bassist Tony Choy ( Cynic, Atheist, C-187, Area 305) record the basslines for Testimony of the Ancients. Tony Choy also ended up touring with Pestilence in support of the album.

The sound on Testimony of the Ancients is quite the departure from the brutal and savage death metal style on Consuming Impulse. While Patrick Mameli certainly delivers some satisfying growls, his vocal delivery is much more human than the extreme brutality of Martin Van Drunen. It´s probably an aquired taste which vocal style you prefer, but viewed upon objectively Patrick Mameli´s vocal style is the least unique but probably also the most accessible. Think Chuck Schuldiner ( Death, Control Denied) or Francis M. Howard ( Incubus, Opprobrium) and you´re just about there.

The instrumental side of the music has also changed quite a bit since Consuming Impulse. While the music on Testimony of the Ancients is still death metal, the level of sophistication has been boosted a lot. There´s a notable addition of keyboards in the music ( performed by Kent Smith) and overall the band has put much more melody into the songs on this album compared to earlier releases. The solo work is in fact so melodic that I´m at times reminded of Iron Maiden. For a death metal album Testimony of the Ancients comes surprisingly low on the brutality scale. That doesn´t mean the tracks aren´t aggressive and there are still moments that are crushingly heavy like the main riff in Twisted Truth, so this is still some pretty extreme metal, no doubt about it.

The album consists of 16 tracks, but half of the tracks work as short transitions between the more regular tracks on the album. I always found the short tracks to be nice little breathers between the regular death metal tracks and they provide a nice flow to the album.

The band chose to travel to The United States to record Testimony of the Ancients in the ( now) legendary Morrisound Recording in Tampa, Florida with producer Scott Burns. I´d say the production on this album is one of the better ones to come out of Morrisound Recording in the early nineties. The production is not as focused on sounding brutal as many other albums recorded in the Morrisound Recording studios in those years and that makes for a powerful yet detailed and at times even epic listen.

Testimony of the Ancients is a very succesful death metal album in every respect. The songwriting is full of innovative ideas, the musicianship is excellent and the production is also of high quality so anything less than a 4 star rating from me would be close to a crime. Testimony of the Ancients is probably one of the most unique death metal albums from the golden death metal year of 1991. On a sidenote the Dan Seagrave cover artwork is also really cool and if you look at the full package, a great cover also adds something to the experience of purchasing an album. Especially when you´re looking at the vinyl version like I do.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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