Good day all,
I will be on a mini vacation this week so I will be posting a couple of reviews I wrote for METAL BUZZ in case you missed them. Please make sure you visist http://metalbuzz.net/site/ where yo may see some things from me that you normally wouldn’t see here. Nevertheless, enjoy!
If you have ever seen Testament live you know what a huge personality Chuck Billy is on the stage. Not just his size but how he commands the stage and performs air guitar on his shortened mic stand throughout the performance. That image is what I think about when I think about Chuck Billy calling a rep at Nuclear Blast Records to inform them that Alex Skolnick and Greg Christian were returning to the band. I can imagine Chuck’s big bellowing voice saying into the phone “We are getting the band back together” and the person on the other side of the phone head explodes. Think of the final scene to Judas Priest’s “You Got Another Thing Coming” video, when the guys head explodes. The beauty of that moment and to have the original band back together is what made 2008 Formation of Damnation one of the best thrash albums to come out in the 2000’s. What Testament achieved on that album was near perfect and the anticipation of a new album was made even greater by the constant touring the band has done since then and being able to see them re-energized.
Now, the problem with making an album as great as Formation of Damnation is that the next album needs to be just as good or better or the band risks falling back into obscurity. Which if we are being honest with ourselves was where Testament was before 2008. Chuck was holding this band together almost by name only, and I am glad he did because it has reemerged and deserves a place in the hierarchy of the metal ladder. Since Formation of Damnation, in my humble opinion, you could replace Megadeth with Testament in the talk of the Big 4 of thrash. If one were to look at the quality of the material put out by both bands, I think Testament edges out Dave and company, but again just my opinion.
Yesterday saw the release of Testament’s latest album Dark Roots of the Earth and where it is a really well balanced and tight album it just does not have that overall edge that Formation of Damnation had. Not that this is a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, on the contrary, it is a great album and you should go out and buy it, it just isn’t as strong as their previous album. Similar to what happened to Accept, Blood of a Nation is a groundbreaking album with the power and energy traditional metal had been missing for years. But the follow up Stalingrad is a strong follow up and a must have album, but just a beat off of its predecessor. Same applies here.
The album starts out strong with the anthemic “Rise up” leading things off, with its strong riffs and spectacular guitar solo. One thing that I think is very important to point out is that Alex Skolnick seems to be getting stronger as a lead guitar player and I think that is both great and scary. What kind of power will this man wield if he becomes an even better guitar player? Following “Rise Up” is the first “single” off of the album “Native Blood”, I was able to hear this song when Nuclear Blast released it early in July and I was hooked on it then and now hearing it in the fold of the album has made it even better.
Overall this album is well written and performed from top to bottom and is a must have in any metalheads collection. From the aforementioned songs to (my personal favorite) “Throne of Thorns” this is a solid album “Last Stand for Independence” is that galloping merciless song that one expects from Testament, and that kind of helps the album flow. It is and should be on everyone’s year end list as one of the best metal albums of the year. One thing that is for sure is that Testament does not disappoint and they were able to take the power and flow of their last album and translate it to the new album.
Where this album is only slightly weaker than Formation it is not by much and the strength of this album should show you how good Formation was/is. One thing that may have hurt this album, in my opinion, is the inclusion of the ballad “Cold Embrace” it is not terrible, and it does its job of breaking up the album in two parts, but I just do not like it. I have tried, I have listened to it over and over again, but I just can’t get into it as an appropriate addition to this album. My only hope is that they didn’t skip putting a rocker on this album over this song, which would make me sad. Finally, the three covers at the end of the album are all worthy covers and worth a listen. My favorite of the three is Queen’s “Dragon Attack” this song has always been one of my favorite Queen songs and Testament pays homage admirably.
Song of the day: http://youtu.be/DtP6Brv6CCM
Until Later, Peace!