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This album does nothing and goes nowhere, which is par for the course with most '80s thrash bands, who are now trying to relive their former glory as thrash has become "retro cool."
In order to increase their street cred with fickle teenagers, Testament have added generic metalcore elements to their sound. We can assume nobody bothered to tell the band that their "cred" was never very impressive to begin with. At best, they were a respectable second division band. Never visionary enough to become heroes of the underground, and never infectious or charismatic enough to be assimilated into the mainstream. The band always boasted strong musicianship with decent lyrics and composition, but even these strengths have decayed with time.
The production of this album is also a point of contention. The sound is quite high gloss and heavily edited, feeling very digital. This is the antithesis of thrash, a music meant to be brash, unprofessional, and offensive to every sort of good taste. Instead of dedication and mature accomplishment, this shiny packaging reveals the band's loss of purpose and general thoughtless approach towards their craft. The only sources of inspiration here are Chuck Billy's medical bills.
And Billy's vocal performance is particularly yawn-inducing, feeling monotonous and thoroughly uninspired. I never thought I'd say that him, but his vocals display no variety whatsoever. Just one monotone line of grunting and sore throat shouting after the next. Eric Peterson is also a major offender, doing riffs that feel decidedly cut-and-paste. Yet worse are his long train of breakdown "pit stomp" riffs, calculated to excite idiot kids with cargo pants and suspenders, as they look for new music at Hot Topic. Where is Greg Christian? Did he even play on this album? At least Skolnick and Bostaph turn in strong performances. If it weren't for their playing, this recording would be unlistenable.
And the lyrics here are rather wretched as well. Consider this sample:
For now I am in control choosing my own fate
And now I sleep at night because I'm not afraid
My demons haunting me I chased them all away
I've conquered all my fears my destiny awaits
Congratulations, you've just rewritten Goodnight Moon. You have nothing profound to say, no original ideas, and your "destiny" involves getting drunk at the local Chili's while eating steak fajitas and impacting more red meat into your colon. Enjoy the life that you've chosen.