“Old school groove flavour combined with a dash of modern-day brutality and the progressive sections and influences make this album both refreshing and appealing”. So read my review of Home, the 2019 debut album by Boston MA outfit The Offering. Well, if that album was impressive, the sophomore release Seeing the Elephant ramps up to the next level.
The Offering – Seeing the Elephant (Century Media)
Release Date: 4 November 2022
Words: Paul Hutchings
The Offering comprises Alexander Richichi (vocals), Nishad George (guitar), Spencer Metela (bass), and Steve Finn (drums). They released their self-titled EP in 2017, followed by Home two years later. Three years have seen the band expand their technical ability but also draw deeply on not only national and world events but personal challenges, which made the making and recording of Seeing the Elephant a poignant and, at times, difficult affair.
Technically flawless, Seeing the Elephant provides further evidence that The Offering are now a band to be taken seriously, if you hadn’t already. They blend their technical prowess with a heaviness that is often crushing in weight.
The title was sourced during the US unrest of the George Floyd protests during the pandemic in 2020. The album is rich in political observation and human emotion. There’s frustration and anger in opener W.A.S.P, a piledriving seven-and-a-half-minute epic that brings the record immediately into focus. It’s bookended by Esther Weeps, which features Cerce singer Becca Cadalzo and explores the repression of women by religion and societal structures. Surely in a time of wokeness, there can be no better anthem for our times?
Elsewhere the band draw deep on the emotional and the personal. Guitarist Nishad George returned from successful touring promoting Home to find his cancer-stricken father in decline. The tracks Tipless and My Heroine, featuring Indian Classical players Purna Prasad and Shuba Gunapu on the mridangam and veena, respectively, are of relevance. As he explains, focusing on the recording and writing gave him a sense of purpose. “Finishing this album was, honestly, the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do,” Nishad says. “There was this sense of momentum… releasing Home, touring, working with Body Count, then suddenly it’s all gone. On top of losing that, from the start of making the album in 2020, my dad began to lose his battle with cancer, which is why I set out to do this.
“So, with all that happening, all that uncertainty and loss of purpose, I surrendered to the fact that I couldn’t control the world and coped by making this album with my gang as best as I could. We finished the album a week before my dad passed away, not before he could listen to it. He told me it was the greatest album he’d ever heard from me. I think so, too.”
Musically, The Offering brings a kaleidoscope of influences to their sound. Huge chunks of Korn resonate on Rosefire, despite the huge, almost deathcore delivery. There are definite nu-metal elements within this track, with Richichi’s delivery eerily reminiscent of Jonathan Davis. It switches direction completely on the short title track. Hauntingly poetic, despite the chilling lyrics, Seeing the Elephant cuts to the bone.
One of the key things that drew me towards The Offering on Home was their modern and varied approach. They don’t sit comfortably in any pigeonhole. It’s something that they’ve continued to develop here. My Heroine combines huge, crunching riffs with Gunapu’s veena, with Richichi in fine form vocally. George’s guitar tone veers away from the norm, abstract and unusual, making his work even more exciting than maybe expected. Tipless thunders along, Metela’s pounding bass driving the track forward.
Ultimately Seeing the Elephant is a hugely dynamic album that pushes the limits and boundaries. The messages are deep, thoughtful, angry, and detailed. “From its inception in 2020,” vocalist and lyricist Richichi explains, “I was overwhelmed by the innate need to express that we are complex people in a complicated space, with a distrust of humanity, authority, and our ability to cope with ‘unprecedented times.’ While battling with very [meta]physical events in 2020, I watched the empathetic eyes of my loved ones fill with more fear and anguish every day.
“I was numbly overcome with rage and put myself in harm’s way to indulge in the suffering of the current situation, to fight for what I believe was and is just. Seeing the Elephant is a glimpse into the perils of our time, what is and should be righted in society—a reflection of what should no longer be tolerated.”
Throw in a superb production, mastering and mixing and a sophisticated polychromatic cover piece by digital artist Taylor Adam, and you have an album that provokes and questions in all the right places. It’s not an easy listen, but diving deep will reap rewards. Clever, Progressive Metal – there’s certainly a place for The Offering in today’s music.