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Sometimes, a band spends years in silence and then makes a comeback that blows everyone away and helps to regain an incredible amount of credibility like Celtic Frost. In other cases a band goes quiet and then releases something so underwhelming that it becomes hard to say that you were once a fan, for instance Trouble. In Testament's case, they spent almost a decade in silence after releasing several underwhelming albums with talented session members that still failed to chart and the only publicity that the band got was because of Chuck going through cancer treatment with only a collection of rerecordings and a live album to hold over hardcore fans, ti seemed like the once mighty band had finally become an afterthought to all but the most devout thrash fans.
Fastforward to 2008 and you have not only the first real testament album of the new millennium but also their first quality album since Low. Hardcore fans will appreciate that four of the original five members are present on the album as well as ex-Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph. Testament is thankfully continuing the trend of quality comeback albums by 80s thrash bands by creating one of the best albums of 2008.
This is pure old-school thrash at it's finest that's been updated for the new millennium. Chuck's vocals show a lot of variety and Alex Skolnick plays some truly awesome solos while Paul Bostaph does a solid job on drums. Moreover, this album's finest moment comes in the form of its final track Leave Me Forever which is a truly moving song about divorce and for a thrash band to actually make you feel something other than reinforcing an already angry mood makes this one truly kick ass song that absolutely must be heard.
Other standout tracks like Henchman Ride have a cool sing along chorus that is sure to make this song a live favorite and The Persecuted Won't Forget has some incredibly shreddy moments to it which makes it a good candidate for the next Guitar Hero game. It may come across as a bit wanky to some, but in a post-Guitar Hero environment, Testament is wisely following trends but those who hate the current trend of fast technical riffing aren't going to appreciate this track.
At the same time, the title track is meant to please fans of the band's death metal days which makes it a curious choice to include on the album. Even though Demonic wasn't truly all that bad of an album, it still want' what fans were expecting. All things considered, Demonic was a better groove-death hybrid than anything put out by Six Feet Under, but it sticks out like a sore thumb among their discography. Now the title track is far less groove driven even though there is some groove in it but it's still played at a fairly high tempo and Chuck Billy's death vox are good, but overall it still sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the tracks and it was only put in there to appeal to a small part of their fanbase and make the album feel less whole and is what keeps this album from getting a review in the 90s range.
As a whole, The Formation of Damnation is one of the best albums released so far in '08 and continues the trend of old-school bands making strong comeback albums. Let's hope that Metallica doesn't bring that trend to a halt.