|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Dana Long & Testify|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2009||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 37:47|
Visalia, California is home to Testify and its unique brand of “metal with a message”. And nowhere is this better evident – both musically (hence, the metal) and lyrically (hence, the message) – than on the groups independently released 2009 full length debut 24:27. Drawing the inspiration for the albums title from Matthew 24:27, Testify plays a joining of traditional heavy metal and straightforward hard rock certain to appeal to those whose musical tastes range from Saint to Resurrection Band- and all things in between (including Bride, F.O.G., Final Axe, Shining Force, Spittin Jonah and Stonefuze).
Yes, a bit of variety but the group bases its sound upon a foundation of bone crushing riffs provided by guitarist Scott Weisenborn. Scott displays a more aggressive side to his playing on the bristling “I Believe” and near speed metal paced “Shout It Out” but can slow things down to the ominous doom-laden sensibilities of “Reborn” and “Judgment Day”. “Lightning Comes” – albums best track – finds him best bestowing his abilities on lead guitar (the soloing here sounds like something Dee Harrington of Saint would come up with).
While Weisenborn lends an element of versatility, it is vocalist Ron Poggione who imparts the unique flair (and helps give Testify its signature muscle-laden sound). Bringing what can best be described as a diverse vocal style, Poggione showcases some gruff and husky low end venom on “Sinners Cage” and “Born Again” (two of the albums heavier pieces) while adding a high end touch to “Reborn”. More melodic paces numbers such as the catchy “Off The Ground” and metal ballad “My Sacrifice” even find him smoothing things out a bit (even if only just slightly).
Bassist John Angle Jr. and drummer Chuck Hernandez form the low end backbone. Hernandez can touch things up with occasional outbursts of double bass (see “I Believe”) while “My Sacrifice” allows Angle’s perseverant bass to stand out.
“I Believe” starts the album with a bang. A three minute explosion of angst-laden riffs and power drumming, the song delivers a wallop in allowing Testify to showcases its all out raw energy in no uncertain terms. The level of passion here almost brings to mind old school Bride. “I Believe” is aptly entitled:
I believe in the resurrection
I believe in the Holy One
I believe that Jesus Christ
He died for everyone
“Off The Ground” slows things to a mid-paced romp. The song actually gives rise to the more melodic based sound (at least in comparison to “I Believe”) with its catchy chorus- all the while highlighting the group’s trademark muscle laden guitar sound. Pioggone complements the driving scene with his harsh and raspy vocal delivery.
“Sinners Cage” begins its first minute to narration underscored by a driving rhythm guitar. Things really take off as the song reaches its first verse, relentlessly plowing ahead until culminating for a chorus conveyed in a manner every bit as assertive as the music is here. As its title implies, “Sinner’s Cage” talks about the struggle against in:
All the same only times have changed
The world run on a fuel of rage
Medication for every pain
Break me out of the sinners cage
The albums fleeting (1:17) title track features narration from Matthew 24:27-30 accompanied by an acoustic guitar and thunderstorm.
Immediately kicking in is mega-cruncher “Judgment Day”. As foreboding a track as you will find, the song features plenty of pounding double bass (during its apocalyptic chorus) and decisive layers of rhythm guitar (shoring up its forceful verses). Yes, this one might be a bit short (2:37) but it more than makes up for in shear aggression.
“Reborn” brings a plodding – almost doom-laden – sound. The song begins to a bass guitar solo before the rhythm guitar gradually fades in. Proceeding to trudge ahead in rumbling fashion, “Reborn” does not peak until obtaining a concise chorus in which Poggione exhibits the full range to his voice. I particularly enjoy how things slow to a near crawl as narration briefly takes over. The message here is simple but straightforward:
Rise – today
Bow your head – kneel down and pray
He died – for You and me
Nailed to the cross – the holy tree
With its no-frills hard rocking sound, “Second Chance” has classic Rez Band written all over it. In your face guitar riffs, pummeling drums and a relentless attitude prevail as the song establishes a driving environs. Put this on Colours or DMZ and it would sound right at home.
“My Sacrifice” is the closest any of the albums material comes to falling within ballad territory. The song, interestingly, begins to a symphonic keyboard introduction before flowing through its first verse acoustically. Abruptly picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar steps in, “My Sacrifice” moves on to a hard edged chorus in which a no-nonsense message is delivered:
My evil way
I’ve left behind
He showed me a sign
The time has come
To lay down my life
That’s my sacrifice
Instrumental, the pace picks up for a joining of lead guitar and pumping bass lines.
The energetic “Shout Out” jumps starts at once at an upbeat tempo, roaring at a near speed metal pace to a plethora of unrelenting riffs and a short but brazen guitar solo. The song slows somewhat its final minute as the phrase “All is one!” is continuously repeated.
“Born Again”, another back to basics hard rocker, crunches through its verses with the rhythm guitar maneuvering in and out of the mix. Breaking out, the song gains even further momentum for a dogged chorus in which the rhythm guitar establishes itself fixed and firm.
A power metal direction is taken on “Lightning Strikes”. By far the albums finest piece, this one reflects the bands potential in no uncertain terms, putting in place a sublime setting to go along with its majestic chorus and fast paced run of lead guitar- straight from the Dee Harrington (Saint) school of soloing. “Lightning Strikes” focuses on apocalyptic themes:
You see the lightning
As the night turns to day
You hear the thunder
As you bow down to pray
As he comes from more
Save your soul
The Lambs Blood upon your door
Album closer “Death Inside Of Me” features the guest lead vocals of Lynn Louise Lowrey (Vixen). What I find to stand out about the song is how the smoother female vocal approach of Lowrey contrasts with the course delivers of Poggione. Musically, “Death Inside Of Me” proves a poignant piece heading in a slow and driving direction with its portent flavorings and overriding low end. And for those who are wondering, Lynn actually functions as Vixen’s bassist (and not lead vocalists), which I find surprising considering the quality here.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “I Believe” (3:07), “Off The Ground” (3:03), “Sinner’s Cage” (3:50), “Matt. 24:27” (1:16), “Judgment Day” (2:42), “Reborn” (4:32), “Second Chance “(2:46), “My Sacrifice” (5:02), “Shout Out” (4:54), “Born Again” (2:46), “Lightning Comes” (3:32), “Death Inside Of Me” (3:42)
Ron Poggione – Lead Vocals
Scott Weisenborn – Guitars
Bass - John Angle Jr. and
Drums - Chuck Hernandez
Lynn Louise Lowrey – Lead Vocals