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3.91 | 32 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1991


1. The Secrecies of Horror (4:55)
2. Bitterness (0:30)
3. Twisted Truth (4:02)
4. Darkening (0:30)
5. Lost Souls (3:40)
6. Blood (0:28)
7. Land of Tears (4:46)
8. Free Us From Temptation (0:31)
9. Prophetic Revelations (5:21)
10. Impure (0:59)
11. Testimony (3:50)
12. Soulless (0:32)
13. Presence of the Dead (5:50)
14. Mindwarp (0:24)
15. Stigmatized (5:22)
16. In Sorrow (1:11)

Total Time: 42:57


- Patrick Mameli / Vocals, lead guitar
- Patrick Uterwijk / Lead guitar
- Marco Foddis / Drums

- Tony Choy / Bass

About this release

Full-length, Roadrunner Records, September 6th, 1991

Music by Patrick Mameli
Lyrics by Marco Foddis
Keyboards on this album performed by Kent Smith

Produced by Pestilence and Scott Burns
Engineered and mixed by Scott Burns
Recorded and mixed at Morrisound Recording, Tampa, FL
Mastered by Eddie Schreyer at Future Disc, Hollywood, CA

Cover artwork by Dan Seagrave.
Ancient Mechanical Ball and concept by Dan Seagrave
All photos by Carole Segal
Art direction by Patricia Mooney

Reissued with "Consuming Impulse" as a part of Roadrunner's "From The Vault" series. (2 CDS)

Thanks to UMUR, TheHeavyMetalCat, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Not quite as progressive as some of the material they would produce later, Pestilence's Testimony of the Ancients is still a technical metal tour de force which manages to hit a fine balance between brutality and technical finesse. Alternating between more developed pieces and brief, curious little instrumentals, the album offers up a somewhat more pristine and clean-sounding production than is typical for death metal of this era, but I think that really brings out the more subtle nuances of what Pestilence are trying to do here. The overall impression given is less of a brutal, aggressive bellow of rage and more like a panicked rant, which fits the lyrical themes nicely.
Vim Fuego
Whatever Pestilence produced after the stunning "Consuming Impulse" would always be judged against that album. That album had pushed the band to the forefront of the death metal explosion in the early 90s. In Martin Van Drunen, Pestilence possessed one of the most brutal voices in the world, and Patrick Mameli had shown himself to be a brilliant song writer within the metal sphere.

However, Van Drunen left the band after "Consuming Impulse" to join Asphyx, so Mameli had to pick up the vocal duties, and his voice was no match for Van Drunen's guttural retch. So instead of trying to top "Consuming Impulse", Pestilence shuffled sideways a little. The bludgeoning weight of it would be difficult to match anyway, so the band showed their increasing skill and dexterity on "Testimony Of The Ancients".

While some bands played heavy for heavy's sake (take a bow Suffocation), Pestilence never neglected the fact songs are written to be listened to, not weighed. As such, the riffing and vocal refrains (it's a bit much to call them choruses) stick in your head. The band also showed a willingness to include traditional metal influences, particularly in the soloing. "Twisted Truth" features a great example. Mameli had a great love for jazz, and introduced a few rudimentary jazz elements to the sound, producing some creative and at times unexpected riffs.

At the time this was recorded, Atheist and Atrocity were beginning to inspire other bands to explore more technical avenues within the bounds of death metal. Tony Choy, bassist for the legendary Cynic, and later Atheist, handled the four string duties on the album, and while there isn't the syncopation and choppy time signature changes of those bands, his playing is quite pliant and flexible, while sacrificing little of the bottom end.

It's not all experimentation and boundary pushing music though. "Lost Souls" is a good, old fashioned blast from the start. The half pace harmonic riffing features again, as it did on "Consuming Impulse", with the rhythm section and solos creating the illusion of speed.

One slight annoyance on the album is the 30 second interludes between songs. They mean very little, and don't really relate to the songs, and the four minutes or so of the album they take up would have been better served being filled by another song.

The overall impact of `Testimony Of The Ancients' is less of a crushing bodyblow than `Consuming Impulse', but it is an album with twists and turns not always noticeable at first. While not the instant classic of its predecessor, `Testimony Of The Ancients' shows Pestilence were about more than just being heavy, and on their day could play rings around a lot of other bands.
Time Signature
Presence of the dead...

Genre: death metal

Up until this album, most of Pestilence's music had been pretty straightforward and aggressive death metal with thrash metal tendencies, but "Testimony of the Ancients" is quite a radical change in style and sound.

It is much more sophisticated than Pestilence's previous releases and much less brutal. "Testimony of the Ancients" is a really interesting death metal album with progressive inklings here and there - primarily consisting in the unusual use of keyboards which was unusual in death metal at the time (Nocturnus being one of the few other death bands to use keyboards). The keyboards give this album an eerie atmosphere but also serve to really underline the lack of brutality on the album. Moreover, compared to "Consuming Impulse", the music itself is a tad more technical, and the jazz influences that characterize "Spheres" show themselves in some of the guitar solos, which are also very melodic for early 1990s death metal.

Despite the radical differences between this album and previous releases and the increased level of sophistication - and decreased level of brutality - I do think that Pestilence stick to their trademark compact riffs, which is one of the things that ensure that this album, while not brutal is still intense and retains some aggression.

Many of the tracks are short instrumental fillers or transitions between the tracks proper, and while a lot of people seem to really like these filler tracks, I have always found them a tad annoying and unnecessary, because I just want to skip straight to the actual tunes.

Testimony of the ancients certainly is a great album which in many ways contributed importantly to the division of death metal into more melodic and experimental subgenres.
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.

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