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The new classic! - 96%

ShadeOfDarkness, December 3rd, 2010

Testament is one of the more melodic thrash metal bands. They haven't always stayed true to their genre though. We all know that thrash pretty much dissapeared in the 90's. We all know about the awful Load and Reload. Testament decided to take the train of death metal, instead of trying to play groove metal or grunge. This may have been a smarter decision than a lot of other thrash bands, although I didn't like Testament's death metal stuff. I guess that the guys in Testament knew that thrash was coming back, and so they wanted to be a part of it too. Well, did they actually manage to become one of the great thrashers again? The answer is, YES!

I know that there's a lot of different opinions about this album. However, I don't quite understand what people think is so awful about it. There was one guy who thought Chuck Billy's vocals were so damn awful compared to his earlier days. Well then. I'm going to try to explain my opinion on exactly that case. Chuck Billy has been through many different phases. At first, he was a young thrash metal vocalist who could sing half-good, and had some pretty damn amazing screams here and there. As time flew by, Chuck started to change his style. On The Ritual, he tried to have a more melodic approach to his vocals. I think that he actually managed to do this pretty well. He then came to realize that Testament was starting to become more of a hard rock band, and immediately tried to change that, by learning how to use his death metal voice. They showed that they could still play metal on Low. However, on 97's Demonic, things went too far in my opinion. Testament just doesn't fit the genre of death metal. That's just not them, and I think they realized this too, as they quickly got more back to their thrashing style on The Gathering. Here, they combined their vicious thrash stuff with the newer death metal material. This worked out pretty well, except for some songs on The Gathering, which I thought wasn't good enough. Then Chuck got cancer, and Testament had to take a little break. They wanted to release a new album, but it was just delayed again and again, until they finally made it in 2008. They have had a lot of time to write all these amazing songs, and edit them to make them sound the best they can. What was I talking about again? Oh, Chuck's vocals. It seems as he has practiced his melodic singing a lot since The Gathering. I was pretty impressed by his singing in songs like The Persecuted Won't Forget, and Killing Season. It almost sounds like he's using auto-tune, but don't worry, cause I've listened closely, and he doesn't use that! In my opinion, he is the guy that stands most out on the album. He certainly does a better job than James Hetfield did on Death Magnetic (although James' vocals weren't too shabby either). Well anyway, Chuck does an amazing job here. He keeps the melody going, with beautiful slides between the notes, as well as some death metal grunts here and there. Actually, the title track is only death metal vocals through the whole thing, although I look at it as a thrash song.

Alex has returned to his guitar duties! This was a good thing! Something I find interesting about this album is that the riffs aren't like they used to be on the older Testament albums. Have you for example heard a riff similar to the on ein the beginning of The Persecuted Won't Forget? This shows more of their variety of riffs, and opens up possibilities of even more interesting melodies than they had on their old 80's albums. The songs also have a lot more different riffs than you would expect from Testament. The older Testament albums had songs that kept the same riffs going for too long some times. This album is something completely different, as songs changes tempo and riffs very often. The most clear examples are The Persecuted Won't Forget and Henchmen Ride. The last one mentioned suddenly changes into a really thrashy song after the verse has been played several times. Same goes for The Persecuted Won't Forget, as it changes after the second "chorus." Testament has always been good at playing solos too. However, the solos were never the same without Alex to play them. He does an amazing job on this album, keeping the listener entertained and interested in what's going to happen next. You all know that many guitarists fail to do this while playing solos. Kirk Hammett is a perfect example. He is starting to sound more and more like Slayer's Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, who just plays something random (although this is what Slayer is all about).

Paul Bostaph does a really good job at the drums, like he always does. He saved Slayer when Lombardo quit, and saved Testament now. He can do all the basic stuff you expect a metal drummer to be capable of, unlike Lars Ulrich, who does an awful job on the drums. I really don't understand how Metallica can have such a bad drummer. He is just so fucking gay! Anyway, Bostaph does a great job at keeping the songs tight and in rhytm. I epsecially love his thrashy playing in Henchmen Ride, as it is some of the fastest stuff he plays on the whole album! By the way, I should just note here that the bass is not audiable, so there's nothing special to say about that.

I've still got some last words to say though. I don't get why a lot of people don't like this album if they didn't like Testament's old stuff. Is it because of the clean production? Is it because Chuck Billy has become a better singer? I just don't seem to get it. However, you will most probably like this album if you liked Testament's old stuff. Give this album your full attention, and listen to all the intelligent melodies, riffs and vocal lines. This is an album you don't wanna miss!