Take Offense Pay Homage to the Legendary Lineage of West Coast Crossover with 'T.O.tality'

Take Offense Pay Homage to the Legendary Lineage of West Coast Crossover with 'T.O.tality'

- By Ramon Gonzales

The once metallic journeymen level up their assault on a record that tested their resolve and eventually complete the kind of breakout album they have been destined to make.

It has been a long, arduous road for California crossover vets Take Offense.

Spending the better part of the last two decades as journeymen, steadily mounting an uphill battle and securing their position in the heavily saturated landscape of the West Coast's heavy music scene, the band commanded respect, but had yet to breakout like they had hoped. 

The potent amalgam of timeless thrash, composed with the execution and style points of speed metal, all rooted with the blue collar work ethic and sense of community synonymous with hardcore allowed Take Offense to not only exist in various circles - but rather thrive as an anomaly. 

While the band's 2020 LP, Cause & Effect served well in vaulting the band to a creative plateau, the momentum the band would gain during that time would all be for not - succumbing to the stall of the pandemic shortly thereafter. Faced with scheduling issues (with guitarist Greg Cerwonka touring with the live configuration of Turnstile) and a succession of delays, all of the steam the band had creatively going into the summer of 2021 would be forced to stretch out for two years until the follow-up album was complete. 

While the band would readily confide that their fourth and most current effort was the most challenging to complete, they will also confidently assert that the juice was well worth the squeeze. Tapping into the lineage of their legendary predecessors like Suicidal Tendencies, Cryptic Slaughter, D.R.I., and Excel, the extended time away allowed Take Offense better recalibrate their sound and strike at a time when crossover is poised to be king. 

Equipped with a 14-track presentation that best showcases the band's strengths, both in style and substance, the appropriately titled T.O.tality offers the most complete version of the band yet. Galvanized by their shared commitment to seeing the album through, Take Offense met adversity head-on and emerged more focused, furious and better refined in the process. 

Detailing the backstory to each track, frontman Anthony Herrera and Greg Cerwonka breakdown the framework of their fourth album and offer some insight into just what makes this such a significant release for the Southern California collective. 



Herrera - This track, although it’s the first song on the record it was the last one to come about. We were ready to head into the studio to begin recording and Greg came up with this track a week or so beforehand. This was one of those tracks where the hook came first and the rest of the song was built around that hook.  I didn’t have to think too hard about what this song was gonna be speaking on. It already had its own vibe happening, it was more about capturing it.

Cerwonka - This was actually the last track I wrote in the writing/riffing process. Funny how it ended up being the album opener, but that seems to happen often. I was listening to a lot of Dokken, and you can totally hear it in this one. This one’s chocked full of “cruise control riffs” or “speeding ticket riffs” as I like to call them. Like you’re screaming down the highway. Even the working title of the track was called “Speeding Ticket”.



Herrera - It’s said that this is our fastest song to date. It’s about time then. We like it fast & hard. That’s the style TO was born out of. Although our songs aren’t all consistently super fast, we were definitely built for speed. No doubts about it.

Cerwonka - The goal of this track was to lay down the fastest T.O. song to date. I set up the BPM to 250, and let it rip. Even the “slower” sections of the song are still fast by design. Slayer’s “Dittohead” was definitely an inspiration on this one. Total onslaught.


Herrera - T.O.tality, as it is the title track of the album it is also an anthem of Take Offense. It speaks to the essence of the band itself. We fly the flag for the freedom of self expression. Standing up & standing out. This track, if nothing else, is a testament to the longevity of this band & represents the trails that we’ve been through with one another either together or on an individual level.

Cerwonka - The basis of this song was me obsessing over the isolated drum track for Heart’s “Barracuda”. It’s a very busy hi-hat shuffle with a lot of ghost notes. That’s how a lot of the riff ideas were developed. I also wanted the bass to really shine through and lock in with the drum groove. The guitar solo is my take/attempt at a more Jazz Fusion type approach. It has a lot of “outside” notes, and things of that nature.


Herrera - This is a band favorite to play. It has a groove to it that’s high energy & fast paced, although technically not a “fast” song. It’s one built with the intention to blow some steam off, musically & lyrically. “I’m damned if I do, I’m damned if I don’t”

Cerwonka - Anthony (vocalist) came up with main verse and chorus riffs for this one. This track is always a fun one to play because its just straight down picking, and diggin’ in with the pick. It also has what I’ve dubbed “the spider riff” near the end of the track. It’s a silly little fella to play and puts all your fingers to use.



Herrera - Assassination is an assault on the ear drums. Hence the title. When I first heard the demos of this track, I really wasn’t sure how to write to it. That all changed though. Once the music got laid down in the studio things clicked & the words spilled over the track with ease.

Cerwonka - I have no idea how I came up with the opening intro lick (it’s almost like a quick saxophone Jazz lick), but the main riff and groove I’ve had for some time. We took more of a straight forward approach with this one when it comes to song structure. It features a very “Bill & Ted” duel guitar lick, which is always something I’ve always wanted to do. The “breakdown” section of this song is literally breaking down the main verse riff into these funky little bursts. Really cool bass and drum groove underneath all of that.


Herrera - This is a track that speaks to the superiority complex that we have as humans. The arrogant side to us that thinks we are more important than other forms of life. Being “civilized” is the act of a facade, something that’s only happening on the surface. S/O to San Diego’s own Battalion of Saints for lending me the line I use at the end of the song.

“the animal that’s in man will kill you, if it can…”

Cerwonka - This one is the “straight forward hardcore” track on the album, but let me tell you there’s nothing straight forward about these riffs lol. It took me a while to get the articulation correct, and my picking hand up to par. I’m especially proud of the galloping fast riff on this one. It might sound simple, but it ain’t.


Herrera - This was the first track we wrote for this record. We started writing in 2021 so that makes this track 3 years old before the records even out. This track is about making important life altering decisions. Not just deciding but also acting on them, to the best of your ability. Before it’s too late.

Cerwonka - This was the very first track I wrote starting off the writing process for this record. It’s definitely an explosion of riffs, ideas, and speed. Damn near everything but the kitchen sink. After surviving 2020, and the band being back in a “square one” situation, I just decided to turn everything up to 11 as they say, and this is what came out lol. Also very proud to have an iconic cowbell moment midway through.


Herrera - If any of the tracks needed to open side B of the album, it’s this one. If S.W.O. is the fastest song we have to date, then this is the heaviest song we have to date. The House of Shadows is our internal worlds, our unconscious mind. It’s where our dreams & nightmares exist. 

Cerwonka - There’s an attitude out there nowadays for heavy guitar riffs. One being, tuning your guitar all the way down = instant heavy. I always like to challenge that attitude by staying in standard tuning, and constructing a riff that really slams. DEEP INSIDE definitely has that approach. A real “stink face” experience.


Herrera - An instrumental track meant to really set in the tone of this side of the record. Opening the track, if you listen closely is the sounds from a wind chime that was built as a memorial, standing in the marina of Chula Vista.

Cerwonka - This one was built upon a loose idea Anthony had with two chords. I definitely made it more demented sounding, but near the end a powerful resolve happens. Now that I look back at it, it’s definitely a reflection of my subconscious at the time with trying to finish the album, and hit your own standards you’ve set for yourself.


Herrera -  A song with a crystal clear message. Don’t think you can ask for more than that. It’s a roll call song. You either agree with the message or you don’t. Dedicated to indigenous peoples of the world.

Cerwonka - Just a good mean chuggin’ riff on this one. It also has a very cool drum and bass break section for the verse parts. I’ve never been a “wah pedal” guy before, but I decided to bust it out on this one to really accent chords and leads.


Herrera - This is a song dedicated to those who’ve gone before us. Family members, our ancestors, friends gone too soon. We will meet again, down the road.

Cerwonka - Most of the music with this track was put together by Anthony. I added all the leads, solos, and wrote the outro. This one has a cool, old “Mercyful Fate” vibe going through out it. A good amount of call and response with the vocals and guitar leads. The outro is one of favorite moments on this record. Who doesn’t love an old duel guitar harmony?


Herrera - Here’s one of our more melodic tracks. We usually keep room for one or two of these types of tracks on a record. One of my favorites lyrically. It’s a momentary glimpse into the way I perceive my reality, on a daily basis.

Cerwonka - This was one is unapologetically 80s sunset strip metal. It’s got a synthesizer intro, clean chorus guitar, and a lot of fretboard heroics/gymnastics. Shit you could probably shoot a montage with just the instrumentals. As bold as all that is, Anthony is able to give it that edge vocally which easily makes it a T.O. track.


Herrera - This is a song meant for those who oppose. Our enemies. It’s a charge to triumph.

Cerwonka - This one is sort of the “wild card” of the record IMO. Weirdly enough, I wrote this track for a Fender guitar commercial I was asked to score and star in. It was deemed “too heavy” by the marketing department, so I had this one in my back pocket for a while. Glad it was able to be used on this record because it’s a really fun song to play live.


Herrera - This song is pretty on the nose, if you will. It’s a song about prayer. Something that’s not for everyone & I don’t blame them. In my experience, it’s been for me. So I offer my take, of what prayer means to me & how it works for me since its something that I use & practice. A song dedicated to Creator, mother earth & my ancestors.

Cerwonka - Hands down the silliest, hardest riff I’ve composed. Really pushing the technical abilities of the band on this one. As an album closer I love how it almost feels like a “burnout” of some sorts. Also features one of the more catchier chorus moments from Anthony. Outro chugs also feel monstrous when you crank this one up.


T.O.tality, the latest album from Take Offense is now available via MNRK Heavy. Order the album - HERE

Take Offense will be touring this summer in support of their latest release. The band will host a handful of domestic dates and embark on a European tour later this summer supporting Toxic Holocaust. See the list of confirmed dates and cities below. 

Take Offense North American Live Dates: 

May 10: San Diego, CA - Tower Bar (Album Listening Party)
May 17: San Diego, CA - Corazon
May 18: Oxnard, CA - CFF
May 19: San Francisco, CA - 924 Gilman
Jun 06: Richmond, VA - The Warehouse
Jun 07: York, PA - Skid Row Garage
Jun 08: Manchester, NH - Jewel Music Venue
Jun 09: Ridgewood, NY - TV Eye

Take Offense European Live Dates:

w/ Toxic Holocaust 

Jul 27: Tolmin, SI - Tolminator Festival
Jul 29: Novi Sad, RS -  SKCNS Fabrika
Jul 30: Sofia, BG - OldSkulls Club
Jul 31: Rasnov, RO -  Rockstadt Extreme Festival
Aug 01: Budapest, HU -  Dürer Kert
Aug 02: Vienna, AT -  Arena
Aug 03: Stuttgart, DE - Schwarzer Keiler
Aug 04: Leipzig, DE -  Soltmann
Aug 05: Gdynia, PL -  Ucho
Aug 06: Poznan, PL -  2 Progi 
Aug 07: Krakow, PL -  Zascianek 
Aug 08: Bratislava, SK -  Pink Whale
Aug 09: Jaromer, CZ -  Brutal Assault
Aug 10: Berlin, DE -  Reset
Aug 11: Siegen, DE -  Vortex
Aug 13: Düdingen, CH -  Bad Bonn
Aug 14: Dornbirn, AT -  Conrad Sohm
Aug 15: Cologne, DE - Club Volta

Back to blog
1 of 3