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The eighties and the turn of 80/90’s were very good years for Testament musicians - many gigs, live shows, exhausting tours, thrash metal was the king undeniably. One year has passed (“The Ritual” 5th album, 1992) and the band prepared another effort, this time live mcd or ep called “Return To The Apocalyptic City”. Unfortunately thrash metal started to rot, the bands began to seek another musical dimensions, the labels found another fashion called grunge and forgot about the thrash outfits. In these times Testament recorded six songs (30 minutes), but only two of them were in original line-up. To put it simply, this is very strange piece of metal. Firstly, why the band didn’t decide to record full length live album? I know that the problems with members (Skolnick and Clemente left the band after “The Ritual” session) didn’t make it easy. That was my question in those days, of course I couldn’t foresee the 1995 year and their mighty “Live At The Fillmore”. When it comes to the selection of the songs, there is nothing special. All right, one can say about “Reign Of Terror”, the song that missed the full length albums in the glorious past, but it is recorded on “Live At Eindhoven” (Mlp 1987) and on the single “Trial By Fire” (1998). The next strange and definitely awful and disastrous thing is the front cover. It makes me really sick when I compare this with excellent pictures from “Practice What You Preach”, “Souls Of Black” or “The Ritual”. I remember I bought this stuff on tape, shortly after releasing of “The Ritual”, and at that time it made a sense. Now I think it was just a greed, thrash was dying in the mainstream and Atlantic wanted to earn some money.
Musically – no surprises can be found. Production and realization of live sounds is impeccable. Testament looks like thrashing-crushing beast devouring the silence, even if there is a new line-up on the live songs (Alvelais on lead guitar and Bostaph on drums, both ex-Forbidden). The thing which is really worth the trouble is “Reign Of Terror” mentioned just above. This song is a classic piece of thrash: furious tempo, excellent riffs (written by Peterson and Ramirez) with fine slow-down in the middle and paralyzing solo lead – that’s the way of metal of my favourite thrash crew. The rest of the songs are well known for the maniacs, everything runs very fast. The last song “Return To Serenity” taken from the previous album is shortened version (radio edit) and it didn’t work with the rest here, of course it is commercial trick to get a better selling.
Perversely this stuff is entitled “Return To The Apocalyptic City”. So I ask: where the hell is this ‘apocalyptic city’??? Where is the best track from Testament’s legendary debut album??? There is no any return as well there is no Apocalyptic City! So this is the next very strange and nonsensical thing. So if I have to sum all the things up: wrong title of the release, wrong front cover, excellent music and the greed of the label I think. For me - as the die-hard Testament supporter - it is just an interesting small thing because of Alvelais on guitar, for the others: useless forgettable stuff. Fortunately the band attacked with the new album (“Low” 1994) and the absolutely devastating live in 1995, both pure thrash performances in the really hard times.