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Testament have been a band who have everything i look for in a band but somehow they never totally impressed me. They have the right approach to making thrash metal, Rather than the nonsensical approach of bands like Vio-lence, They have more emphasis on song-writing and catchy choruses you can actually sing along with. Chuck billy is a fantastic vocalist only when he keeps himself in check rather than go ballistic and try every vocal style in the book as in 'Demonic' and 'Low'.
The band is quite clearly influenced by Metallica, I'm not making this up. Infact, Chuck billy and Alex skolnick have expressed their respect for metallica and admitted to have been heavily influenced by them (Any real testament fan would know this). They also slammed metallica when St. Anger came out. They are influenced by the right bands, Which is a good thing. Unlike bands like 'Dark angel' who focused on sheer brutality to please a bunch of loyal blind fans who could care less about song-writing. They are one of the 'big 7' of thrash metal in my book.
This now brings us to 'TFOD', Testament's comeback, Alex is still as good as he once was. He is of a similar mould to kirk hammett, But only far more consistent. His soloing is easily one of his strong points and he has a great sense of style. Paul bostaph has always been a competent drummer, He can duel with the best of the best. He is probably the most well famous member in the band.
I am not totally convinced by the first track "More than meets the eye", Which has chuck billy using his 'Low' vocal style, His vocals are just way too loud and it all feels forced and unneeded. "The evil has landed" is the best track on this album, personally. The lyrics describe the events of 9-11, The chorus is catchy, This is testament at their best, Remember 'alone in the dark'. The guitarwork is heavy and is completely free of the filler material on the rest of the album. The title track is the most annoying song on the whole album. Chuck billy is at his irritating best as he uses a pseudo-death metal vocal style which only he seems to like. It's very hard to enjoy the guitarwork in the background thanks to his voice overshadowing everything else.
There is a lot of filler on this album but the album is ultimately saved by a few surprisingly good ones. "Henchman ride" is not totally bad except for some annoying vocal lines. This is where the sound their most thrashy. "Killing season" is like the black album done wrong. It's just totally filler and was probably an afterthought. The song has a more upbeat feel and goes no where. The key to making songs like this is writing catchy lyrics. This album isn't really thrash, It lacks the good lyrics it should have. There is too many mid-paced sections which lead to no where.
The biggest problem i have with the album is Chuck billy, His voice just overshadows everything else. Chuck billy still has some really good moments. He sounds very good on "Afterlife". In my opinion, That's how he should be singing on all songs. He completely eases over the "When my father passed away" part. Leaving a good impression. Skolnick is excellent but he can't save this one. Paul bostaph just breezes through the album without making any impact. The big positive on this album is the excellent production. The guitars sound pretty sharp, The drums are completely free of 'clicks' or the 'dong clong' of Lars ulrich's drums. 'F.E.A.R' is a real strong point. Skolnick's soloing is second to none. He is an excellent stand alone musician and can easily carry an album. Billy sounds much more natural and he doesn't over-use and mix up all his vocal styles he used in the past.
Is this better than Death magnetic?. I am not completely sure. TFOD is much more consistent and there are no lagging mid sections on any songs. There is still a lack of conviction in the band. The weakest link in the album is chuck billy's new vocal styles. He's better off sounding natural as he did on 'The legacy' or 'Souls of black'. The album is repetetive, There is a lack of melodic slower sections which would've made this much more memorable. There are no breakdowns which break the monotony. This is still a pretty decent album and should please any Testament fan, Just don't expect another 'The legacy'.