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Could be worse - 55%

DGYDP, April 13th, 2008

I have listened to this album with a clear and un-biased mind, not reminding myself of older Testament or the reactions of others. In itself, this is an "ok" effort. It has some great thrash moments, a bunch of rather stupid tracks and the rest is filled with the typical Testament sound. Obviously, this is no Legacy or New Order, but it’s not their worst cd either.

The point is that I'm extremely glad this is not an attempt at selling out: Chuck and co. have tried thrashing, and while at some points they miserably fail, at least they sort of tried. Essentially, this is what thrash would sound like if it would be slowed down a bit. No, not groove metal, simply slower thrash. An amount of good thrash riffs are present, but unfortunately most of the riffs are rather bland. Alex Skolnick is pretty disappointing and takes a huge step backwards after his incredible performance on the Live in London DVD. Alex (lead guitar) has his moments of glory, like on 'The Persecuted Won't Forget'. Overall, however, he is below his own standards and takes resort in mindless shredding too much. Most of the solo’s on this album are crappy, while the rhythm guitar is nothing more than average.

Chuck Billy sounds ‘alright’, the adjective that is most suitable to describe his performance. Nothing out of the ordinary and a lack of variation ... but still not to the point of him sounding annoying or whiny. In fact, on some songs he does sound annoying (even approaching the boundaries of standard groove metal faggotry) -'Leave Me Forever' and 'Dangers of the Faithless for example- but most of the time he's not. To be honest, I think he has lost a lot of his vocal range, mainly because his vocals on this record are far from varied. They all sound similar, except for a couple of horrible attempts at “whoa whoa”/mallcore yelling.

As for the bass, well, where IS the bass? Sticking to root notes and only claiming attention a handful of times? What? Is this really Greg Christian playing? Probably the biggest let down on the album: Christian seems to have disappeared and replaced by some root-note copying idiot: a shadow of what used to be a great bassist. Thank god at least one song ('Leave Me Forever') has a decent bassline, because I was really starting to get worried about Greg’s disappearance. It’s clear he hasn’t even tried doing a good job and decided to take a shortcut. A shame, because some parts are literarily screaming for sweet bass.

Paul Bostaph is, just like his fellow band members, nothing more than 'ok'. Accompanying the rest as it's supposed to be, but that's where it ends. Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, because his performance here is definitely better than the average thrash drummer. But, we've seen better from this guy. The same goes for my final conclusion on the album: it's ok, about what I expected ... but we can't hide the fact that they might have lost the holy art of thrashing a bit. No big deal though, it's better than a major sell-out and in itself a good sign that they still want to thrash. The lack of variation is, however, extremely disturbing.