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As a pure thrash band, Testament were always kind of second rate. I mean they had some truly great songs, but in my opinion they never released a *great* album until this one. Calling it great may be a BIT of a stretch, but it's pretty fuckin' good though, and more importantly it's consistent from start to finish(all though it does fade.) Really though, how long could they continue to make generic thrash? They had all ready grown quite stale by the release of The Ritual and if they had continued down that path they would be long gone by now, but even to this day they still put out decent albums.
There were some pretty big changes in Testaments sound with this album, obviously Chuck Billy's deep growl was probably the biggest change. Also, exit Skolnick and enter Murphy. While I'm actually NOT a big fan of James Murphy, he does bring a much needed freshness to Testaments sound. By this time they had worn out the simple, by the books Metallica inspired thrash they played early on, and were in desperate need of something new. This album is much groovier and bottom heavy, and really it sounds like a heavier Pantera. But don't let that scare you away. The production is damn near perfect, they finally got a good sound after years of struggling with thin production.
The title track kicks the album off nicely, it's heavy as fuck yet groovy thrash. The vocals in this song are excellent, and Chuck mixes things up nicely. "Fuel the fire for war, it's man against mankind!" Good fist pumping stuff. "Legions(In Hiding" is pretty similar and contains some great groove riffs and the solo is pretty damn impressive and odd sounding. "Hail Mary" has one of the better riffs on the album, almost mid-eastern sounding. And it easily has the catchiest chorus as well. "Trail of Tears" is a straight up power ballad, and I will admit that it took a while to grow on me, but I fuckin' love it. Chuck Billy really sounds great, his clean vocals will impress you if you've never heard them. "Shades of War" is one of the more straight up thrash songs, and it's fucking heavy! This is probably the most underrated song in their entire catalog, it's pretty similar to the title track off of Practice What You Preach but with a much thicker sound. "Dog Faced Gods" as others have mentioned is damn near death metal, and they pull it off surprisingly well.
It does start to grow tiresome at around track 9(the quirky bass instrumental.) Songs like "Chasing Fear," "All I Could Bleed," and "Ride" are really bland and stale. Not quite filler, but they just lack any sort of punch. "Last Call" is completely unnecessary, and if they would have shaved off a few tracks, and took it from 12 to say 9 or 10 it would have been much better. But there's really not a whole lot to complain about, there are 6 or 7 kick ass songs on here and that's ALOT more than I can say for most albums. So check it out if you like thrash, and don't mind a little groove, you can't go wrong.