There are some bands you can’t help having a soft spot for. Testament is one of those bands for me. Over the years I’ve been to many of their gigs and these guys always deliver. Just seeing Chuck Billy in action is worth the purchase of a ticket alone. It’s always a surprise who’s in the band, but the last couple of albums by Billy and Co have been nothing but stellar. Their last album, entitled “The Formation Of Damnation”, is a tough act to follow, so let’s see whether the new album holds any water.
The formula of mixing elements of old Testament and newer Testament served the band very well on their last album. The same goes for “Dark Roots Of Earth”. The vast majority of the song material are rife with influences from “Practise What You Preach” and “Souls Of Black”, but they are translated within a 2012 musical framework. It’s very much a guitar-driven where Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson get all the room to showcase their guitar wizardry. Those two really shine on “Rise Up”, “A Day In The Death” and “Throne Of Thorns”.
This album also marks the return of Gene Hoglan (Death, Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory) to the Testament ranks. His playing is rather straightforward on most tracks, but especially on faster tracks, like “True American Hate” and “Last Stand Of Independence” he gets the chance to put his mark with some high-speed double bass runs. On “Native Blood” he even uses blastbeats, quite a novelty in the history of Testament.
“Cold Embrace” is the first power ballad in years and it reminds me a lot of “The Legacy” and “Trail Of Tears”. Chuck Billy also uses his clean singing voice more often, which is another clear nod to the past. However, don’t be fooled, because his mighty roar is still as strong as ever.
Andy Sneap (Nevermore, Exodus, Megadeth) took care of the production chores. He gave “Dark Roots Of Earth” his signature clear but heavy sound, which enhances the thrash metal edge of this album.
“Dark Roots Of Earth” is a more than worthy successor to the mighty “The Formation Of Damnation” and it’s clear proof that Testament is the premier band when it comes down to classic Bay Area Thrash Metal. Forget the recent albums by Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, because THIS album is the real deal. Highly recommended!
Main photo used courtesy of Carlini Photo