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Being that I absolutely love The Legacy and The New Order, and Souls of Black was very enjoyable, getting Practice What You Preach was a necessity. When I popped it in, I just couldn't get into it. Owe it to the fact that I also got Slayer's Decade of Agression the same day, but this album has been one of the biggest dust collectors in my collection. And though my tastes have matured, I've never been able to enjoy Practice What You Preach, despite 13 years having passed.
The title track opens up the album and promises pretty good things. It's got catchy parts, nice riffs, a monster of a bass line, and a nice shredding solo from Alex Skolnick. It seems a bit more radio oriented than their previous material, and doesn't feature a breakdown of any sort, but it works.
Well, then things abruptly crash into the fucking wall. "Perilous Nation," "Envy Life," and "Greenhouse Effect" are all remarkably featureless. If you pay close attention, you notice that there are a good deal of more technical sounding riffs on here, probably Skolnick's fusion influence showing through, but nothing really grabs you. These songs can play on in the background with no problem, but once you start listening to them, you just get bored. "Envy Life" has what is probably meant to be a catchy chorus, but even the pseudo evil lyrics can't save it from being insipid and boring.
"Blessed in Contempt" finally shows up and kicks you in the face with some very heavy riffing and bass/drum work. Chuck Billy's vocals even get mean, which he has hitherto avoided on this album. Sure, the song suffers from the shit production, but it's at least heavy as fuck, and I'd say could have even come off of the The Gathering.
"Sins of Omission" is a fucking great song, probably the best on here, if not exactly typical thrash. It's got a neat, almost oriental melody played in the beginning, and a nice groove to it. Add a few tempo changes and a killer lead by Skolnick, and you've got a winner.
After that it's all down hill. "The Ballad" is, BIG FUCKING SURPRISE!, a fucking ballad, and probably the worst power ballad I've ever heard. I cringe every time I read the lyrics, as they are just plain stupid. Then you've got "Nightmare," which tries so hard to be heavy and fast, but just sounds like a total throwaway of a song. "Confusion Fusion," yes, this sounds like a progressive fusion piece played by a metal band. "Cool, it'll be like the Mahavishnu Orchestra, but metal," you think. Noooo...this just sounds confused and idiotic. It goes fucking nowhere, and its hard to get a good feel for the song.
The songs don't really flow, they just go from one riff to the next, as if they came up with riffs different days, then haphazardly cut and pasted everything. And once again, Testament gets shorted on the production end, which makes ...And Justice for All sound thick and warm. Fuck...you couldn't have made the guitars sound weaker unless you castrated Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick. The bass is irritatingly trebly and upfront, and the drums are quite loud but devoid of anything spectacular.
There's a lot of good stuff in short order or just plain missing on here. Heavy riffs? Few. Coherent song structures? Fucking forget about it. Good presentation? You must be joking! Good solos, good riffs, good vocals? Present but subdued.