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Poor man's Master of Puppets? - 52%

Nightcrawler, June 3rd, 2004

With the Sweden Rock Festival fast approaching and me having nothing to do until then, I've decided to review some of the bands I'll be seeing there. Thought I'd start off with probably the least interesting in my opinion, namely the bay area legends Testament.

The first and thus far only Testament studio album I own was quite disappointing, judging from all the praise it receives from all over. Pretty fucking dull from time to time - I'd call it a poor man's "Master of Puppets". And while "Puppets" isn't either the best thrash album ever ("Bonded By Blood", anyone? Or "Horrorscope?"), it's many times better than this.
"Practice What You Preach" isn't a downright bad album, just rather bland at times. Soulless, is a word I'd use to describe it. It brings some decently hard-hitting riffs, most notably in the title track, "Blessed In Contempt" and "Sins of Omission", but they don't use the riffage to the same effectiveness as other far superior bay area thrashers, such as Exodus for example. They know how to emphasize the riffs into making the songs thrash as madly as ever possibly, and Testament don't do this. The main focus in the songs lay on the vocal work, which is frighteningly similar to James Hetfield most of the time, only more clear and less aggressive (now I'm obviously talking about "Kill 'Em All" or "Ride The Lightning" James, possibly "Puppets" also), which further weakens the impression of aggressiveness and intensity in the songs, which already is about as low as it gets on any Thrash act this big. I still can't figure out why Testament are so highly worshipped. Probably cause they sound so similar to Metallica.
Then again, some of their stuff I've heard that is not off of this album has some damn good moments, so I'll be getting some more album by these guys before I make a final opinion of them. But as it is now, they're not too great in my book. Cause honestly, I'd expect more from an album by guys with this talent. Cause fuck yes, there is talent to be found. The guitar solos on here are some of the craziest in Thrash yet still with a killer underlying sense of melody that keeps them far more sane than many others. And the riffs aren't really bad, they just aren't emphasized enough to have much effect. Then there isn't too much variety either, most of the riffs on here are quite hard to tell apart from one another, and not only because of the boring, muddy production.
The remaining musicians are less interesting. The bass is very well played, but too fucking loud in the mix, and the tone is damn boring as well, which is another flaw. These many missteps all on one albums result in that the songs "Practice What You Preach", "Perilous Nation", "Envy Life", "Time Is Coming", "Blessed In Contempt" and "Greenhouse Effect" all end up extremely dull and uninteresting, while not quite bad. Just boring.

The remaining songs work as sort of a redeeming factor (aside from the really stupid closing instrumental "Confusion Fusion. Shitty filler). First up we have "Sins of Omission", one of the few actually headbangable songs on the album, and very catchy all through. The vocal lines especially fucking rock, great stuff! Who knew they were capable of pulling off shit this great? Second greatest song on here, definitely, despite a pretty lame chorus.
But the ultimate highlight of the album would be the ballad, entitled... "The Ballad". This is their answer to "Fade To Black", and I'd say that after the uninteresting minute-long intro, they're quite even in quality as well. Great emotion in the guitarwork well supported by brilliant lyrics, featuring one especially outstanding, reappearing line: "I know we are free." Great, great stuff. And when it kicks up the intensity towards the end, that's pretty fucking incredible. "I've been robbed, I've been fooled, I intend now to make my own rules!" Hell yes. Why can't they write like this all the time?
The last worthwhile song here is "Nightmare (Coming Back To You)", which structure-wise is pretty similar to the less interesting songs on here, but it's fast and catchy as fuck, and so short it doesn't have time to get boring. Kickass.

But three outstanding songs cannot save "Practice What You Preach" from being quite the loser of an album. Though I do not regret buying it - honestly, it's worth getting if only for hearing "The Ballad". Man, I love that song. Though it'd probably be better if you downloaded that and the two other highlights and forget the other stuff ever existed. Like I've said, not downright terrible, just hideously forgettable.