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A total discontent was the only feeling that injected the thrash hearts of Testament musicians. Their label Atlantic completely screwed all the things up with promotion and live performances around the world, furthermore, thrash was a dying kind, so the creators of “The Legacy” decided to give a new life to Burnt Offerings, their own label. They treated their last effort “Low” as the best stuff they have ever recorded, of course they had the right to declare such a theory and unfortunately I cannot agree with them. Now “Low” is just a history, and new stuff arrives to conquer my senses. This is the live album which is in fact a debut under the banner of a new label, and it contains 14 songs and 3 acoustics. Although they wanted to earn some money for promotion of their next studio album, part of amount in cash was given to Association On American Indian Affairs. It is unthinkable that all these human factors made “Live At The Fillmore” the BEST thrash live record performance…
In metal magazines this record was described as typical ‘the best-off’, but I do not agree with such statements. Firstly, there are only three songs from their debut album which I consider the best in their career, fortunately “Apocalyptic City” shows all its brilliance and thrash magic, but musicians forgot about e.g. “Over The Wall”, “The Haunting” (but this is excusable because of these mentioned are on live Ep from 1993) and “Do Or Die”. Moreover, there is no “Disciple Of The Watch”, definitely leading killer from the second album, also tracks from my beloved “The Ritual” are absent here. One can say that I started the things with some drawbacks, disadvantages or something like this. No, it is not truth. So, to the point and to the elemental truth. The first thing: production – simply amazing, this is an example how the live show should be recorded, everything is audible in perfect way, the rhythm section is like a hammer which smashes you down. Here, checking the line up out, important change arrives. This time drummer Tempesta is replaced by John Dette, and I am just under the impression when he gives the old tracks another life. Unfortunately he left the band shortly after the recording. Vocally – Chick is just top-notch, he improved his lines and added some growls to the older tracks as well (“Alone In The Dark”, “Apocalyptic City”), it made the songs better and really powerful, what is interesting that he did it without any effort and artificiality. My main question and apprehension at a time went to the man James Murphy and his replacement of the master Skolnick. I read many articles that he had done his job just very good. And only very good, that he missed this unique ‘Skolnick’ element in his guitar playing… Univocally I’d like to state that Murphy did a perfect (!) job. It’s hard to write but I almost forgot about Alex, he played all the solos/riffs just like on originals, maybe in some short moments I hear changes (of course no falsity here!) that don’t disfigure the entirety. It fits perfectly here, not like on “First Strike Still Deadly” where Skolnick changed his timeless classic parts… Ok, with delight I can see and hear “Apocalyptic City” herein, for me number one among the metal songs, with profound sadness I can write that I saw Testament three times live and didn’t hear this song. So it is the next thing I will praise these sounds eternally. Writing on the end about music coming from Fillmore I can definitely state: realization and musical execution is a masterpiece. It is pure, honest and true. Each musician put own brick into the wall. Nobody is redundant, nobody is a symbol of mediocrity. So I got a milestone. A milestone of thrash metal.
The last part of the album consists of three songs. This is rather a big surprise or even unexpected guest, because after thrash feast, Testament prepared acoustic ballads with Star Nayea female vocals as a Billy’s support. I treat them very well, still they maintain masterly music level, but as a matter of fact I was surprised that Murphy wanted to record such stuff. On the other hand it shows both guitarists Murphy and Peterson are all-around. Booklet says that these tracks were recorded live during Indian benefit.
It is exactly excellent time while listening to this live show, even in spite of 17 years of being in my collection. And with no problem I can put it next to Savatage “Ghost In The Ruins”, my best heavy metal live. It’s proper to point out that sounds from Fillmore were recorded in 1995 – a year where the old and important thrash outfits like Slayer, Overkill, Forbidden, Kreator and others didn’t play this kind of music, or were dead. One can say that this live is the last pure thrash in Testament career and I can agree with it, on the next release Testament will shock metal fans showing new face. The face where thrash and death metal fight bravely. And yes, I was also extremely shocked, but in very positive way… Writing in one sentence on the end: demons will arrive to possess my soul…