Just when we suspected our favourite album of the year choices were clear cut comes another imposing contender, a release which tramples over its rivals with dispute heavy boots and dazzles the senses with its hungrily varied sound and invention. Seeing the Elephant is the sophomore full-length from US outfit THE OFFERING; a release which embraces our world weary and life challenging times and uses them as fuel for its emprise of invention, animosity and hope honed resolution.
The successor to HOME, the band’s critically-acclaimed 2019 debut album, Seeing the Elephant has taken all the attributes of the band’s first album and escalated their prowess whilst honing an even more kaleidoscopic yet skilfully fluid proposition of sound bred in nu, alt and groove metal invention. It is a sound and record though which explores far more in flavour and imagination than that, every track unveiling its individual adventure and atypical character around a lyrical snarl and bite at odds with the world, socially and politically. It is also a release influenced by the chaos and turbulence sweeping the world these past few years and subsequently intimate experiences for the band, the record birthed in the sufferance and metal strains of the Covid pandemic felt and observed by vocalist/lyricist Alexander Richichi and for guitarist Nishad George through his cancer-stricken father who thankfully got to hear the album before his passing. As mentioned though, there is a rich vein of hope and support to the record which aligns to its discontent; an enlivening spirit honed in virulent enterprise.
Seeing the Elephant erupts straightaway with opener W.A.S.P, its tempest immediately swamping the senses before whiplash sharing rhythms and vocal dynamics break up the turbulence to bring even greater antipathy. A cyclone of psychotic tempting, the track is a breath-taking trespass with an inherent contagiousness which grows as the track progresses and its imagination is further exposed. Like a fusion of Korn and Five Star Prison Cell, the song twists and turns with rabid animation and enterprise.
The following Ghostmother has a sense of menace in its emergence too, a threat soon boiling over as grooves and riffs entwine and surge the senses. The rhythmic manipulation of drummer Steve Finn continues to pounce as relative calm belies the cyclonic intent of the song, the bass of Spencer Metela a prowler in its midst and devilish incitement in the tempestuous onrushes. Equally voice and word provide a drama of energy and incitement, every second an unpredictable trespass and captivation caught in a groove metal swell.
The eerie haunting and melodic seduction of Tipless beguiled next as it led to the hellish landscape of Rosefire from where predatory elements and chaotic turmoil soon invaded. Drenched in tension and thick in dissension and conflict, the track proved as incendiary and rich in virulent enterprise, a barbarous involvement greedily devoured as we shared dispute fuelled roars with Richichi.
The album’s title track simply captivated as it stepped forward next where against rhythmically cast, historically set civil dispute intimation Richichi’s tones shone and resonated, ably supported by the harmonic and melodic contemplations of the band. It too is a haunting yet openly infectious moment, a combination of persuasions echoed and added to by My Heroine. Featuring Indian Classical players Purna Prasad and Shuba Gunapu on the mridangam and veena respectively, the song serenaded, aroused and invaded within its cycles of invention across a revolving landscape; again every aspect cast by the band under the skin manipulating.
The ravenous outpourings of Flower Children are perfectly tempered by the melodic and imagination soaked exploits of the quartet, its cyclonic nagging irresistible as too its expectation squashing fusion of twists and turns while Tiny Disappointments from its physically romantic croon to momentous and impassioned expulsions simply beguiled as it too burrowed deep. Both songs shared favourite track choice though a choice all songs seriously contested as echoed by With Consent with its groove animated eddies and rock ‘n’ roll virulence, a contagion subsequently brewed into a cauldron of metal vortexes.
Esther Weeps brings the release to a powerful and evocative close, its melancholic breath and cinematic drama an emotive spark for the imagination as vocals and sonic rumination are for ears. Atmospherically poignant and vocally alluring, the song more than epitomises the glorious prowess and invention of Seeing the Elephant, its emotional fire and creative drama riveting.
In a year, indeed month, of many memorable and at times addiction forging moments for our ears, Seeing the Elephant brought something new and impressive for contemplation and to feed pure pleasure.
Seeing the Elephant is out now via Century Media across most stores
Pete RingMaster 11/11/2022
Copyright RingMaster Review