TESTAMENT

"First Strike, Still Deadly (Spitfire; 2001 / 2008)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

I never actually heard this when it first came out years ago, but back in 2001, Testament decided to re-record some of their early songs. I am not usually big on the idea of a whole album of re-recorded songs and that was the main reason I didn't pursue this CD back then. Yet, as the re-issue came out, I decided to check it out because by the second half of the 1990s, Testament had gotten way heavier and their music had become more involved. There seemed to be enough of a reason to believe that doing their old tracks might result in some fairly worthwhile results. 

I put the disc in and was immediately puzzled by the rather dull production values that weren't even quite as sharp as this band's material back in 1987-88. That's just production though, the real key is what they do with the music. The answer is unfortunately not a whole lot as the changes here are surprisingly minimum. There are a few flourishes here and there, but most are minimal and the misses are more than the hits. 

The misses are that, on a number of the critical pace changes, they don't hit it nearly as sharp or as bold as they did the first time around. This makes them sound a little old as it's like saying you can still hit a home run like you used and then swinging just enough to get a single. 

Chuck Billy's vocals are fine if he was only aiming to do the songs just as they were originally done. Yet his style had changed to more of a death metal growl on Testament's mid-late 90s efforts. I was hoping for at least a little of those growls, but he just kind of stays the course and rolls it out like he did way back then only with slightly less aggression. 

Really this is just an all right album that doesn't add a whole lot to what they did on the original versions. I just can't imagine anyone except real Testament diehards who want everything by the band feeling the need to buy this album. 

Testament: Alex Skolnick - guitar; John Tempesta - drums; Steve Souza - vocals.  

"First Strike, Still Deadly (Spitfire; 2001)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Metal legends Testament have done something very cool: they've re-recorded some of the classic tunes from their first three releases (which were originally released in the early 80s) and, using  today's obviously improved technology and the band's own improved musical abilities, released them. The new music sounds even harder, faster and cooler than ever.  

Anyone into hard-hitting metal should recognize at least some of these awesome tunes:
1. First Strike is Deadly
2. Into the Pit
3. Trial By Fire
4. Disciples of The Watch
5. The Preacher
6. Burnt Offerings
7. Over the Wall
8. The New Order
9. The Haunting
10. Alone in the Dark
11. Reign of Terror

Any Testament fan should jump at this chance to relive the early classics - with much improved sound - from this truly original, veteran band.  

Testament: Alex Skolnick - guitar; John Tempesta - drums; Steve Souza - vocals.  

"The Very Best of Testament (Rhino; 2001)

Reviewed by Snidermann

This "greatest hits" CD proves just what a killer band Testament really is. Testament is one of those great heavy metal bands that never seemed to get all the attention they deserved. Take the band's "Legacy," for example, a 1987 recording that is one of my favorites (in fact, I think I'll go dig it out of my collection). That was a great record, and this new collection proves that there's a lot more great stuff out there as well.

Testament is a powerful metal band whose sound is reminiscent of the true metal legends: Judas Priest, Motorhead, Metallica and Slayer just to name a few. They combine all the good aspects of the aforementioned bands and produce a sound uniquely their own - a sound as forceful as a Patton tank. Testament's music is a veritable wall of metal sound.

This compilation has re-sparked my interest in Testament. I think I'll be investing some time and money to totally re-discover this killer band once again. If you're never heard Testament, start here and see if it doesn't take you through the band's entire catalog.

For more information, visit the band's website at http://www.testamentlegions.com.

"The Gathering" (Prosthetic; 1999 / 2008)testament.jpg (15648 bytes)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

Two years after "Demonic," Testament had to again make some sweeping line-up changes before recording their next effort. They brought in legend Dave Lombardo (Slayer), Steve DiGiorgio (Death) and brought back James Murphy (Death, Obituary) to complete the line-up. 

I think the death metal elements are a little less apparent on "The Gathering" and the CD leans far more towards the thrash of Testament's work between 1987 and 1990. Yet "The Gathering" is likely heavier in a way that they only touched on in their early albums. There are some definite thrash parts busting loose here and there, but it's the bone-crunching, raw heaviness of this album that got me. 

This release is probably more straight forward than "Low" or "Demonic," but Testament plunges forward and just plows into the tracks. The band never really become more or less involved through their long career, but instead they seem to center more on the level on intensity that they bring. The production is a big help as well; the sound here comes across as being massive in nature. There's not a lot of build-up to most of the tracks here as the band just kind of launches into them, but they don't need build-up. It will only take seconds for the songs to smack your senses and make you realize just how cutting this band can be no matter who is in the band. 

Fans of Testament's earlier works might be more into this one than they would the two previous albums.

Testament: Chuck Billy, vocals; Eric Petersen, lead and rhythm guitar; James Murphy, lead guitar; Steve DiGiorgio, bass; Dave Lombardo, drums.

For more information, visit the band's website at http://www.testamentlegions.com

"The Gathering" (Burnt Offerings/Spitfire; 1999)testament.jpg (15648 bytes)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Testament's new CD, "The Gathering" represents quite a step ahead for the band. It's a CD rich with nuances and experimental songwriting that never gets too far ahead of or too far behind itself. In other words, it'll kick your ass while still making you think.

The CD begins at a brisk enough pace with "D.N.R. Do Not Resuscitate," a grueling, balls-out number that is the harbinger of things to come. "Down for Life" is next, and it's a driving powerhouse that brings to mind the best of modern Metallica. "Eyes of Wrath," the third track, has one of the CD's best riffs - it builds in layers until it crashes together with a terrific crescendo. "True Believer" is up next and is another smoothly written track with terrific vocal work by Chuck Billy. "3 Days in Darkness" is a slow, pounding number that puts drummer Dave Lombardo to good use. "Legions of the Dead" is a chaotic number that is more expression of rage than it is a rock song and Billy's vocals sound like a demon vomiting blood here. "Careful What You Wish For" is a groovy little metal boogie. "Riding the Snake" features killer fretwork by guitarists Eric Petersen and James Murphy, combined with a powerful drum backbone and sounds a little like a Megadeth number, as does "Allegiance." "Sewn Shut Eyes" is the CD's highlight as far as music is concerned - the weaving of guitar and bass here is delicious. Unfortunately, Billy reverts to the scary demon vocals again and detracts from the song's overall success. Finally, "Fall of Sipledome" ends the CD with appropriate flash and style. It is easily the song's most dangerously written piece. Here, Billy's demonic rasping is fitting.

Overall," The Gathering" is not recommended for listening to while driving. The unavoidable headbanging that this CD delivers makes for very unsafe driving.

Testament is Chuck Billy, vocals; Eric Petersen, lead and rhythm guitar; James Murphy, lead guitar; Steve DiGiorgio, bass; Dave Lombardo, drums.

For more information, visit the band's website at http://www.testamentlegions.com

"Demonic" (Prosthetic; 1997 / 2008)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

It doesn’t seem that long since this album was first released, but I guess it has been more than a decade now so its gets a re-issue.

By 1994, Testament were an established veteran act, but the star had fallen some and speed metal's popularity had dipped tremendously. So Testament switched things up and added elements of death metal and released "Low" which was far and away their most aggressive and heaviest album at the time. Fast forward a few years and some line-up changes were made as Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Death, Strapping Young Lad) Glen Alvelas and Derek Ramirez were brought in to complete the line-up. 

The infusion of death metal continued on "Demonic," but to a slightly lesser extent than on "Low." There is more of a groove on this album and perhaps a stronger focus on the heaviness as opposed to speed. However, it's just as aggressive and as brutal, but the band is more patient about building up the songs here. They take a very control-oriented approach as they pull and guide us through what they have in store. 

"Demonic" is an album in which Testament just shows all kinds of confidence in what they are doing. The music benefits from this approach because it is an extremely tight mountain of an album that grabs you and drags you along for the ride. 

Nice re-issue from Prosthetic and this one has a different cover from the original.

For more information, visit the band's website at http://www.testamentlegions.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

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Copyright © 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09 Apr 2017 13:37:21 -0400 .