The Offering – Seeing the Elephant Review

Three years ago, I covered Home, the debut full-length from Boston-based multi-genre masters The Offering. I loved Home at the time, but the intervening period has seen the record’s shadow grow even larger over me; it’s simply one of the most unique and mind-blowing albums I’ve ever heard. Home blended a ridiculous number of styles into one cohesive sound, and those constituent styles came from all regions of the accessibility spectrum. The gnarliest thrash and death metals were mixed with deathcore, hard rock, nu-metal, and even progressive rock to form a mixture that could serve as a gateway through which radio rockers might enter into the hall of metal trueness. Aside from the unique musical style, Home also saw vocalist Alex Richichi revealing himself to be one of the most distinctive—and most talented—vocalists I’ve ever heard. The album made my Top 5 of 2019 (and probably would move up at least one spot were I making that list today), so its follow-up comes with the highest of expectations. Can Seeing the Elephant1 live up to them?

When I reviewed Home, I spent most of my time telling you what other bands The Offering sounds like, but now, three years later, I can confidently say that no one sounds like The Offering. Sure, there are still comparisons like Nevermore, Korn, Blind Guardian (although it’s mostly just the vocals this time around), Linkin Park, and even the Eagles, but the combination of Richichi’s vocals and Nishad George’s guitar work gives the band’s sound a territory all its own. These guys waste no time setting the tone on Seeing the Elephant as opening track and lead single “WASP” throws us straight under a down-tuned piledriver while Richichi vomits, growls, and screams all over us. The track shows the band operating in just about all of its various modes, the opening groove-fest giving way to a subdued section of clean singing and clean guitars before George drops a mind-bending solo and the song ends just as intensely as it began.

Home may have jumped the shark when it comes to combining many disparate styles into one, but while Seeing the Elephant may not be as chaotically varied as its predecessor, it sees The Offering honing their sound down to a lethal edge and delivering a more consistently awesome package. Pseudo-interludes pair with the proper tracks to saturate the album with emotional atmosphere; the epic, melancholic closer, “Esther Weeps” is particularly affecting. Gone are most of the purely thrash riffs, with George and bassist Spencer Metala going for maximum girth and weight with the rhythm work this time around. This may leave the metal purists complaining, but fuck those guys—they probably already hated this band anyway! The Offering has taken the early templates that nu-metal and groove metal bands laid down in the 90’s and added some modern elements to weaponize them into something genuinely heavy. Some tracks, like “My Heroine” and “Tiny Disappointments,” skew towards the accessible end of the pool, but they’re just as effective as crushers like the heartbreaking “Ghost Mother,” the kinky (I think?) “With Consent,” and the politically charged “Flower Children” and “Rose Fire”—that last one is the collaboration between Korn and Nevermore that we never knew we needed, and it’s one of my favorite tracks of 2022.

And that brings me to the potential ‘but,’ and it’s a big one.2 I’m positive that the lyrical content on Seeing the Elephant will be a dealbreaker for some. The band covers a variety of political topics in a not-so-subtle way, and it can be a bit shocking initially. When I heard the singles for “WASP” and “Flower Children,” I was really concerned that the themes would overpower the music, but I’ve been able to enjoy the record enormously despite whatever discomfort the lyrics may produce within me. Some will say the lyrics are immature, and while I might agree at times, since when does heavy fucking metal need to be mature or to provide balanced takes? The Offering has touched on some important concepts here, and while my personal experience3 keeps me from sharing the lyrics’ perspective on many of them, I’d like to think I’m openminded enough to learn from their cathartically over-the-top presentation. The bottom line is: I don’t have to fully buy in to the themes present in art in order to enjoy that art. Art consumption would be supremely exhausting and boring if I did.

Seeing the Elephant may not be the shock to the system that Home was, but what it (relatively) lacks in genre promiscuity, it more than makes up for with deadly passion and focus. The lyrics will alienate some, but I’ve found each and every track on the record to be supremely enjoyable. I’m twenty listens in now, and I love Seeing the Elephant more with each spin and will be returning to it for years to come. With a second modern metal masterpiece under its belt, The Offering has established itself as one of the most exciting bands in heavy music, period.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: November 4th, 2022

Show 3 footnotes

  1. The title is taken from a popular colloquialism used during the Civil War to refer to taking part in combat. – Steel
  2. I don’t like big buts, and I cannot lie.
  3. “Rose Fire” and “Seeing the Elephant” deal with the protests and riots that came to a head during the summer of 2020, and the latter paints the protesters rather romantically. I personally had a group of protesters move into the street and block my fire engine while we were responding to a serious medical call, delaying us by a minute or two. No matter how well-intentioned our actions are, we need to consider their effects upon others. That patient’s life mattered too.
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