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.