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Testament had totally ruled on this one...we’re talking about their best 90´s album: “Low”. Testament had five studio albums on this decade but none of them achieved the level of consistency that “Low” had. Of course “The Gathering” was very good (it had to be, with Lombardo, Murphy and DiGiorgio…obvious) and had some of the elements of “Low” mixed up with the style of their previous death metal release “Demonic”, but “Low” is pure aggressive power and absolute thrash riffing, a return of a band to their roots, developing themselves in their own style and forgetting about the sense of commerciality very patent on their last release with shredder Alex Skolnick and drummer Louie Clemente, 1992´s “The Ritual”.
Left Skolnick and Clemente and entered two of the best replacements that Peterson & Co. could have chosen. For the lead guitar came shredding virtuoso James Murphy, already known for having played on Death’s “Spiritual Healing” and on Obituary’s “Cause of Death”, and for the drumming came very, but very temporarily drummer John Tempesta who could hangout with the band for more than just the recording of the album…
About the guys…Chuck Billy remained the same thrash vocalist with those intense vocals always charged but striking now at a more aggressive and guttural tone on certain songs of this record.
Eric Peterson is, and always will be beyond Alex Skolnick…I mean, he is the ultimate Testament guitarist, he kept the flag alive for all these years and still keeps coming on with the heaviest riffs…He practically composed every song on this album with only a little help of Greg and James in some of them, and on this record he started switching more solo space with Murphy, revealing himself as a melody maker in terms of soloing… He’s not a shredder, but cuts them just fine…
Greg Christian is one of Legacy’s two survivors and one of the original Testament’s three founding members present on this record. Here we definitively start to listen to Greg’s bass with more intensity and he even has an instrumental with a great part of his own. Not remarkable, but effective.
James Murphy is, and always will be for me, one of the best fucking shredders I ever listened to. The perfect choice to replace Skolnick, but a very short lived one as he left the band some time after this record to return again in “The Gathering” to be leaving again because of illness. I like Steve Smyth, but Murphy will always be a step ahead. Great solos, absolute melodic shredding, total sense of heaviness and a good fusion with Peterson’s guitar are Murphy’s trademarks on this record.
Finally, comes drummer Tempesta…Good drummer, more of an exhibitionist than Clemente and consequentially a more effective drummer. Although not being a drum god (but almost there…), he still manages to get the right sound for these songs out of the drum kit.
This “crown jewel” starts ripping your ears apart with “Low”, a really heavy song with a quite catchy chorus. Chuck’s voice changes sometimes from an aggressive voice tone to a guttural one…great song!! “Legions (in Hiding)” is a good song with that intro that was used during Testament’s tour for “The Ritual”, in the beginning of the song “Over the Wall”. Although not being one of the best songs, it still has some great solos and rhythms.
“Hail Mary” is the only Peterson/Murphy composition on this album and it’s one of the best. Those intro riffs are just fabulous and the rawness of that chorus allied with one of the greatest solos ever played in metal, makes this a hot favourite of Testament.
There are two really fantastic songs on this record. Two of the best in Testament’s entire career, from which the first one is the beautiful “Trail of Tears” ballad. This has some clean guitar melodies that just make this, allied with Chuck Billy’s melodical tone, one of Testament’s “perfect” songs! Murphy mostly dominates the solo sequence with some intervention of Peterson in the middle and it’s just fucking amazing…one of the longest solos I've ever heard. Peterson also does the intro and outro solos on this one…
“Shades of War” and “P.C.” are two average good songs, and the second one was almost entirely composed by Greg Christian.
Then, the second really fantastic song on this record finally comes, the amazing death metallish “Dog Faced Gods”. This was the “perfect” song that really got Testament back on the track as one of the heaviest bands of the Bay Area Thrash style… Death, but also total THRASH on this one. The intro riff is going at light speed and this mixes up some Arabic with demonic melodies making this a total thrash favourite at live shows. After listening to this one I was really convinced that Eric Peterson could really write himself the whole future of Testament without Skolnick. It also has a little taste of progressive metal…
“All I Could Bleed” is an average song, but it also kicks some serious ass, and next come the instrumental “Urotsukidoji” and …fuck! Does this song rock or what?? I heard that someone was trying to compare this to Cliff Burton’s “Anaesthesia” from Metallica’s “Kill ´Em All” because of the bass solo…IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!! This is a progressive metal song with some three great solos made by the three possible soloists on the band… first Greg Christian’s bass and then Eric Peterson and James Murphy’s guitars. The bass solo and the second guitar solo are just amazing…
Finishing up next come the really heavy and catchy “Chasing Fear”. Chuck’s vocals rule on this one and Peterson’s guitar is not far from perfect on this song…”Ride” is a short total thrash song, a good headbanger, not too technical or perfect but fast with that ferocious drumming and riffage, making this the one that really should have been the band’s closer for this album… but it was not, instead they’ve chosen the complete throwaway “Last Call”. Useless song and their little fuck up on this album…Nothing more to say…They don’t get 100 because of that one.
Every Testament fan should have this one… Even if you are that kind of fan that has them all except for “Low”, if selling your “Demonic” and “The Ritual” records means the only way to get it, THEN GET IT!!!
Really, this is Testament’s masterpiece; all of you who don’t have this deserve to rot in hell for the rest of the eternity!!!!!