Testimony of Apocalypse – “The Offering”


A little over a year after their debut album, Testimony of Apocalypse is back with a brutal new album with a host of friends on the guest list. ToA was formed in 2021 by former Sacrament members Mike Torone and Paul Graham for the singular purpose to create brutal Christian thrash metal. They picked up Nick Picitti as a multi-instrumentalist to fill in on instruments for their debut album “None Escape Judgment.” Apart from some production flaws, that release showed great potential as a decent death-tinged thrash album.

What is immediately different in “The Offering” is the long list of guest vocalists, which suffices to say that Mike is not on the mic for this album. On the list is a good mix of familiar and new names making for an interesting listening experience. The most unexpected was Darren “DJ” Johnson of Living Sacrifice fame who hasn’t performed since around “Inhabit,” almost 30 years ago. With so many musicians on an album, I begin to worry about whether this will not sound like ToA anymore. It turns out I should not have worried.

“The Offering” is a very worthy sequel with all of the good elements from their debut album present. I would characterize it first as a death metal album, but there is a thrash metal foundation laid by Nick on rhythm guitar and Paul on drums. Many of the vocalists are known for their death metal delivery, but there is plenty of clean vocal melody episodes sprinkled throughout to give good contrast. The rhythm guitars churn out pretty grooving riffs that don’t disappoint. The drums are absolutely pummeling and work in lockstep with the guitars. Lyrically, ToA stays faithful to their Christian message within apocalyptic imagery.

The songwriting is much improved from before. There is better flow and greater contrast of different styles across songs to keep it interesting. I felt that the “groove” part of ToA’s sound was much more prevalent than before on tracks like “When We Were Dead,” “Heretic and Adversary” and “Holier than Thou.” The technical side is still present but less prevalent folding seamlessly with the more straight meter riffs. There were more progressive elements present than before such as in “Fruit of the Enemy” which had shades of Becoming the Archetype. “The Watchman” is a really well-executed straight-up thrash metal track that shows how well ToA knows this genre.

Lyrically, this is a very faithful Christian metal release that tears at the flesh and restores the soul. I particularly liked the opening track, openly calling on the Holy Spirit and Jesus and reminding us of the resurrection awaiting us all. Derek Corzine is a versatile vocalist that performs well with both clean and death vocals driving the message home. The other song lyrics that I could pick out were also quite spiritually uplifting.

In terms of genre, I would approach this release expecting old school death metal given the number of certified death metal vocalists. There are a lot of great performances on death vox, where I particularly liked Juan Marrero’s barking vocal style on “Dead Man Walking.” The tracks with Brian Lyda sound very similar to Burial Extraction given the similar thrash rhythm underpinnings. That being said there are some melodic clean vocals interspersed which varied from nominally melodic (usually from death metal vocalists) to proper singing. Greg Minier of Applehead delivers a great melodic vocal performance on the chorus of “Welcome to Control.” Not death nor truly melodic, J Paul White’s thrash delivery on “The Watchman” was made for the underlying riffing by Nick and Paul.

I could tell an explosion of diversity in the lead/solo guitars for the album. Without the credits in front of me, I can’t attribute the performances with certainty, but I suspect that the guitarists within the vocalists, like Derek Corzine, Jon Johnson, and Greg Minier, laid down some of their own guitar work. I also heard some fretless bass in the mixes, a Corzine signature, signaling that the collaboration was deeper than just adding vocals.

The only real gripe is that the drums sounded a little low in the mix and muddy at times. With that one adjustment, I think that it would elevate the recording into epic territory because the performances and songwriting are excellent.

The last track is an excellent closing track and ties together many of the strengths of this album. “Majestad” is a re-recording of an instrumental track from the debut but this time with vocals. This is a progressive track that shows how ToA can vary the textures from thrashy riffs to grooving rhythms. There is a cool post-rock section with a very well-executed epic guitar solo. Vocals vary from clean singing, harsh thrash, to spoken word. It ends in a calm clean guitar section which is a calm end for a storm of an album.

ToA has produced an excellent thrashy death metal album in “The Offering.” The variety of musicians contributing to the album add significant breadth and depth without losing the underlying identity as ToA. It is brutal for sure, but they let you come up for air before the next beatdown. It will be interesting to see what direction they go from here: will they find a permanent vocalist or continue to cross-collaborate? Other bands have used guest vocalists to great effect and it seems to fit ToA well. I recommend this album for those that like old school death metal and thrash metal.

Rating: 8.5/10

Written by Sean Bailey

1 – The Time Has Come
2 – When We Were Dead
3 – Dead Man Walking
4 – Ghost
5 – Heretic and the Adversary
6 – Holier Than Thou
7 – Darkly Through Mirrors
8 – Fruit of the Enemy
9 – The Rescue
10 – Watchman
11 – Welcome to Control
12 – Majestad

Testimony of Apocalypse is:
Paul Graham – drums
Nick Pacitti – guitars, bass, and keyboards

Guest Vocalists:
Derek Corzine (Crowned in Sorrow, Blood Thirsty) – Track 1
Brian Lyda (Burial Extraction) – Tracks 2 and 7
Juan Marrero (Let theDay Perish) – Tracks 3 and 9
Jon Johnson (Deny The Fallen, Sacred Warrior) – Track 4
Darren “DJ” Johnson (Living Sacrifice) – Track 5
Corey Weaver (Bloodline Severed) – Track 6
Ville Herranen (Inborn Tendency) – Track 8
J Paul White (Join The Dead) – Track 10
Greg Minier (Applehead, Minier) – Track 11
Anderson Lima (Azzorrague) – Track 12

Release Date: October 27, 2023

Record Label: Roxx Records

None Escape the Judgement (2022) [review]
The Offering (2023)

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Video for The Offering (album teaser)

Video for ‘Dead Man Walking’ (featuring Juan Marrero)

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