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Pestilence - Testimony of the Ancients  CD (album) cover

TESTIMONY OF THE ANCIENTS

Pestilence

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.50 | 39 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

CCVP
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Going in the right direction

As heavy metal continued to evolve as the 1980's were comming to an end, you could see that something was about to change completely for a number of bands, whose albums could foreshadow some years in advance. Voivod had Dimension Hatröss, Death had Human, Queensr˙che had Rage for Order, Savatage had Streets, Fates Warning had Waken the Guardian and Pestilence had Testimony. Even though Testimony of the Ancients is a straight death metal album for the most part, there are substantial parts of it that point to the direction that the band would take not much time after, such as leaving behind a considerable part of the brutality of Consuming Impulse and foc using in improving their compositional craft and the playing abilities; the biggest case for them, for me, in both cases would be the third song, Twisted Truth, which features some of the most amazing and memorable guitar solos of death metal, leaving me mesmerized everytime I listen to that song.

Testimony of the Ancients also feature a noticeable deal of experimentation on the part of this Dutch band, having keyboards playing on multiple instances (what is still somewhat a taboo amongst extreme bands today, so I can only imagine the backlash they had then based on the fact that the band made some effort to make it clear, on Spheres, that did not used any keyboards) as well as having a number of interludes (though some would call them fillers) through the whole album, which both conclude the song that preceded and introduced the next, what isn't something you would find in any given album, specially in death metal genre. Even the cover is unusual for death metal standards, with a metallic sphere of some sort in what seems to be a tower in castle or fortification, giving the album something of a mystical aura instead of the usual gore/splatter/shock cover art.

Being the middle ground between Consuming Impulse and Spheres, however, has a price: inconsistence; not in quality, mind you, but in integration. In Testimony the band has some hard time integrating their traditional, so to speak, death metal with the new found progressive approach they are employing through the album. It is possible to see the stark change between the death and the prog in a matter of moments. Once again I would like to draw attention to Twisted Truth, where just some few notes separate the brutal atmosphere (made solely by the guitars, bass and drums) and the melodic guitar solos and hooks (which have the keyboard added to the mix, playing in the background, what reinforces the dramatic change in the song's tone).

Both the production and the musicianship here are great, what only add to the album's overall quality. The production, specifically, makes every instrument sound clear, also gives them a some rough edges to couple with the music's aggressiveness.

Rating and final thoughts

Up untill this point in their career, I could say that Pestilence was something of a generic band, being mostly influenced by other bands than actually being an influence, a point of reference. Testimony of the Ancients definitively changes the way that Pesttilence is viewd, making them a band that was not a only considered genuinely good, but also as one of those who were driving this genre forward (and unconsciously founding extreme progressive metal).

Because of all that, 4 stars for this testimony.

CCVP | 4/5 |

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