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First thing’s first: goddamn the bass clarity is a slice of heaven on earth. The tone’s a little funky on its own, but fuck it YOU CAN HEAR THE BASS, and it sounds a lot more normal when backing the guitars. Rejoice! La, la, la!
Now that we got that little nugget of Practice What You Preach out of the way, it’s time to reflect on what an inept piece of t(h)rash this really is. For starters, the whole album is pretty damn slow. Thrashy riffs, sure. (good riffs? no, but we’ll get to that). But what good does it do when you slow them down to the pace of Standard: Begin Musical Improvement Here? How am I supposed to obliterate what’s left of my braincells while I’m listening to this, because it certainly won’t get my head nodding. The fastest parts of Practice What You Preach are a fraction as intense as any random section of Spectrum of Death or Darkness Descends. This isn’t thrash! This is Thrash Metal’s little sister thrashy, jr.
On the topic of riffs: they’re mediocre. Boring, tame, one dimensional riffs. Though my head is not impelled to flay about psychotically in the metalhead show of gratification, my mind is actually stimulated by this album, evoking thoughts such as:
was there a point to this?
where were you going with that?
should I wait til tomorrow to do my laundry?
I could go for a burger.
There's nothing stimulating about the music, which is a great segue into mulling over the equally disappointing vocal performance. If the music alone wasn’t enough to bore you to tears, the vocals add just the right touch of ineffectiveness to do so. Chuck Billy was never one of the more unique or spirited vocalists, but he got the job done, given one premise: Testament got the job done. But when Testament crafts the rocket to nowhere called Practice What You Preach, you can’t help but notice how dilapidated the vocals really are. This is no commanding performance, it’s the embodiment of whatever the fuck name there is for the point halfway between flimsy and ultimately insignificant.
Alright, I may have exaggerated (no, never!). Some parts of Practice can be salvaged: the solo in “Envy Life” is half-decent, and I’d be lying if I said the intro and chorus of “Time is Coming” didn’t make me want to get my groove on. I’m not completely sure what getting my groove on entails, but that’s what “Time is Coming” makes me want to do and I’m told it’s a good thing. “The Ballad” sounds a lot like an unofficial prequel to “Return to Serenity,” the godly ballad to be written two albums after this piece of tripe. On its own “The Ballad” isn’t much, but the resemblance to “Return to Serenity” makes it Worthwhile By Association, ltd. That’s about it for highlights. Everything else including the first and title track of Practice What You Preach is forgettable. I kept thinking I’m missing something, but then I figured it out: it’s not me, it’s this album. I was so relieved to find this obvious-in-hindsight closure as to why I could find no joy in this but-shouldn’t-it-be-a-thrash-classic that I declared it thunderously to whoever was in earshot while I beat my chest: IS NO GOOD. ALBUM NO GOOD. IS BAD.
Anyhoo. To rectify this situation, I propose any fans that were bummed by Practice to forget about it and pretend it never happened. Testament has put out an ample amount of other music we can all enjoy, so combined with the fact that you wouldn’t remember a riff off this album if you listened to it ten times in one day, it shouldn’t be a challenge.