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The Gathering is all too aptly named, for it's born of a marshaling or mustering of the band's forces, a strengthening of the levee after it nearly broke through the largely unwelcome and unappreciated Demonic flood with its near complete traversal into the sodden realm of 90s groove metal. Testament returned here to the propulsive, enormous Bay Area thrash stylings that built it, without completely abandoning the heightened aggression level of the two prior albums, and thus there was a great deal of rejoicing upon its arrival. To an extent, this is one of those 'best album evar' enterprises that its own squealing fan base seemed to forget a year or two down the stretch. The ratio of killer to filler is tenuous, but for at least a half dozen songs, it offers the pure, punishing escape of their 80s classics cloaked in an admirable, turn of the century studio brawn.
Amazingly, The Gathering also boasts what must be the highest profile roster in the band's career, with Slayer skinbasher Dave Lombardo sitting in on the drums, bass virtuoso Steve DiGiorgio taking over for Ramirez, and James Murphy returning to the lead guitar position. Essentially, the two Testament loyalists (Billy and Peterson) backed up by extreme metal royalty, and gods do they all sound fucking great here. No offense to Louie Clemente, John Tempesta or Gene Hoglan, but Lombardo's performance on this record is the singular greatest drumming on any Testament release. His mix is far more robust than one might be used to with his Slayer input, but that runs parallel to the style of music here, and he excels at both the accelerated thrashing and breakdowns. The kicks and snares sound superb, the cymbals a little dingier, but he's the best navigator to steer a track like opener "D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)", one of album's strongest, to success. DiGiorgio is remarkably selfless, keeping himself busy without overextending or indulging himself as he often did on the Sadus records.
But I have to hand the M.V.P. to a tie between the guitarists. The riffs Murphy and Peterson mete out in this feel more savage, complex and compelling than the two albums prior. I love how taut the pair are through the rampaging opener, or the more surgical riff progressions in cuts like "Riding the Snake". Billy is also firing on all cylinders, returning to the subtly melodic nature of his earlier career inflection but still weaving in a lot of the guttural growls he honed through the mid-90s, especially on "Legions of the Dead", which delivers pure death/thrash in a way Demonic never could, writhing tremolo riffs carved into the primal, exhausting thrust. The choruses in "D.N.R.", "Down for Life" and both about as catchy as anything off Souls of Black, and this album is overall quite deep in terms of the variation offered, from fun and fancy grooves to faster blitzes style after "Into the Pit", to everything in between. In fact, by all 'technical' accounts, this should be one of my fave thrash records of all time, so balanced, professional and polished in delivery.
The reason it's not: for all its strengths, The Gathering is one of the most easily forgettable Testament efforts, because it's really just an embellishment on the catchier tracks the band was writing during its prime. The riffs, while revitalized, never feel all that fresh or new, only heavier and angrier, and I am all too rarely compelled to listen through this, despite how goddamn clear and present a danger it exudes from the stereo speakers. Billy and Peterson certainly culled exemplary performances form their extended family for this outing, but aside from 3-4 of the individual songs, nothing really stands to memory, like a well directed and filmed sci-fi action film that just has no heart, no theme upon which to clasp the imagination. It goes without saying that this is superior to Demonic in every department, but in retrospect I find myself returning to even Low more often than I do this, which was shocking when I take into account my initial, strong reaction. If anything, at least this 'righted the wrongs' of its predecessor, and got the Californians' back on track, albeit a short-lived one that would kick off the longest hiatus of their history.
I take a look at the members of this gathering: Billy, Peterson, Murphy, DiGiorgio and Lombardo. Yep, definitely good line-up, don’t you think? Or maybe it is better to write thrash dream-team? The five veterans ready to create something uncommon. The musicians known from such bands as Slayer, Sadus, Obituary, Death, Disincarnate. And of course Testament. The first impression is obvious, but at once the main question appears: what is the final result of this gathering? And the next one, did they overcome the mighty debut album “The Legacy”? Two fundamental questions I am going to answer in this review...
Reading some interviews after releasing the album, Peterson said about one thing, namely Dave Lombardo had been this person which I describe as flashing point. He had a great contribution in making “The Gathering” living proof of thrash existence. Now it is hard to write if their previous album was a commercial triumph, for sure “Demonic” was quite successful mix of death and thrash from my point of view, however after joining DiGiorgio and Murphy (again on the board), I was expecting really killing metal offering, much better than lps without Alex Skolnick. The album, released by Burnt Offerings, saw the light of day in the middle of 1999. And my first feelings were enthusiastic, except for better front cover as compared to “Demonic” and very modern (but what is important: not sterile!) production, the music was amazing, from the very beginning the first three songs are just destroyers of the silence, like a battering ram that crushes the wall. After several seconds of bodeful intro, the massacre begins. Forget about slow and monumental tunes of “Demonic”. “D. N. R.” is very fast, with straight forward riffs and fine double bass attack, for sure this is thrash, but taken from another unknown dimension. It makes the song is… really fresh even nowadays, and what is more, this ‘freshness’ is met very often through the whole album. Vocals – again there is no surprise, with every record Billy proves he is the number one in thrash vocal family! He shows incredible mix of clean vocals and deep yet very understandable growls. Even the whole structure of this track is maintained in rather simple way, everything effectively smothers the listener senses. “The Gathering” is entering its gate…
… and the next “Down For Life” isn’t worse! Faster a bit, again very interesting guitar riffs (man, Peterson/Murphy duo!), and changes of tempo. But the best is yet to come, its name “Eyes Of Wrath”: simply it is the essence of Testament’s style, from perfect vocals to perfect music. During this song, finally the bass lines are shown but only in moments of guitar calming down. And I think this is serious fault, why the hell the bass lines are hidden so deeply under the guitar traces? In spite of this, I can write about this killing thrashing song as one of the best in the era of no Skolnick. Writing more about this, one thing must be blazoned out, I mean the first solo lead appears after 4:30, it is different, less classic, more climatic show and these tunes end this highly interesting song.
Yes, three thrash cannon-shots were already heard, but the rest isn’t such super as this holy trinity. For sure I can point out “Legions Of The Dead”, it is the fastest one, maybe there is the best solo, but I have an impression that this is only similar track to “Murky Waters” from “Demonic”. And for sure “Riding The Snake” with mysterious opening, broken structures and excellent second part, as well as glorious “Sewn Shut Eyes” with absolutely devastating Billy vo-kills, overall guitar work and drums cannonade. I wrote about good points, so there is a place to indicate the weak points. I think the feeling of disappointment gets out of the mediocrity. It’s hard to believe it, once again I think about the line-up, and… “True Believer” or “3 Days Of Darkness” (with awful chants “ooooo….”) don’t maintain these superb feelings from the beginning. The same is in the last “Fall Of Sipledome”. Simply these three tracks didn’t convince me. For the first listenings everything seems to have its place, each element isn’t accidental. Unfortunately the deep insight into the entirety (especially into three aforementioned tracks) shows that seesawing emotions aren’t anything uncommon…
Ok, I hope you remember the question I asked some words ago. In my case it is obvious I compare any new offering from the band, to the mighty debut album. And for certain I can declare that “The Gathering” didn’t beat the debut, as well as “The New Order” and “The Ritual”, my most beloved Testament masterpieces. I think my overall mark is rather high in spite of some weaker tracks, but when I read the line-up I can even say about disappointment or frustration. I expected really great album with the highest mark on the end, but as the speedway proverb goes “names don’t ride”. From the other hand I would be a liar in root and grain writing that “The Gathering” is weak album. No, it is not, the music is still fresh and kicking ass, I still listen to this very often, but I’d like to sum some things up: the potential and talent of James Murphy is wrecked here, just like unfortunate hiding of DiGiorgio bass lines during time of sound realization. Seemingly there is a bootleg coming from Dynamo live show (2002), where bass is simply audible and it sounds perfectly. Unfortunately I haven’t heard it yet. Compositionally the band shows the inequalities: the great and the weak songs, with absolutely excellent beginning of the album. I think it proves this line-up is only ship with Bill, Peterson (both as firm as a rock) and three mercenaries, though I am convinced that Lombardo showed the best drum work in his career (yes, forget about Slayer!). Also it proves that the only line-up of Testament is following: Billy, Peterson, Skolnick, Christian and Clemente (or Dette on drums, I will never forget his show on “Live At The Fillmore”…). Anyway “The Gathering” is the last studio album of the band that I praise to date. Both “First Strike Still Deadly” and released after nine (!) years “The Formation Of Damnation” are disappointments for me, and I hope their newest “Dark Roots Of Earth” will show the thrashing furious power and energy. The line-up is almost complete, only Clemente is replaced by Hoglan…
When I bough this album back in 2000 I remained speechless. It was so violent for me and also for a band like Testament that, after the first two great efforts, always remained in a transitory and strange position with not that good albums and the classic thrash metal influences that were fading away. Demonic album went a bit too beyond for the classic Testament way of playing, being quite death metal. The band was quite good at this genre but they were too different from the early days and finally with this great The Gathering we have the right balance.
There was a big expectation for this album before it was published and the unbelievable line up (James Murphy, Dave Lombardo, Steve Di Giorgio, Chuck Billy and Eric Peterson) achieved the goal of increasing this expectation for a great album and Testament didn’t let me down. The Gathering is amazingly furious and powerful with lots of great songs on it, especially on the first part, finding the balance with thrash metal, death and not annoying groove parts.
“D.N.R.” is one of the most violent songs ever by Testament. The riffs are brutal and pounding, thanks also to a bombastic production that exalts and give power to each and every instruments in a shocking way. The band, on its side, is truly devastating. Really, it was since The Legacy that I didn’t listen to this music by Testament. Lombardo at drums is so fast that in some points he almost reaches the blast beats. Chuck’s vocals are on the borderline between the old cleaner tonality and the recent death one. Perfect.
“Down For Life” is amazing with a sort of faster mid paced tempo that will lead this song ‘till the end. The riffs here are more groovy without losing the thrash aggressive patterns and heaviness. Anyway, they are fucking catchy as the drum work by Lombardo, that with his famous fast rolls on the toms, gives to the sound a higher impact and variety. “Eyes of Wrath” is one of the most obscure songs here, beginning with a sort of distorted arpeggio to finish in a hyper distorted riff that is perfectly broken by the return of those strange sounds during the whole song.
“True Believer” continues on the way of the almost mid paced heavy music with a great sense of melody and catchiness through always violent riffs as the following “3 Days In Darkness” where the groove is more incisive in the guitars. As you stated from my other reviews I’m not a groove fan by in this case it’ s so heavy and catchy that I cannot resist in doing some hadbanging. “Legions Of The Dead” reminds that “C.O.T.L.O.D.” but in death metal style. Fast and furious. If “Careful What You Wish For” (awesome) and “Allegiance” show more grove tempos, “Fall of Sipledome” is the classic kick on the teeth to conclude the album.
All in all, a great album forged by one of the greatest line ups ever and the result is evident to anyone. This is one of the most furious and inspired modern thrash metal albums ever and one of Testament’s best. Hands down.
Well, this is a disappointment. I don't see why this album gets so much praise. Sure it's got quite good production, but the songwriting just does not cut it. It's like Low, but even weaker. What's really the worst about this album is that parts sound so damn promising and instead of working on that they end up fucking around with mediocre riffs and ideas. The backing band behind the two original members is quite spectacular. Lombardo, Digiorgio, Murphy, but their input seems to be pretty damn minimal. Lombardo does quite a nice job considering the music he has to work with, but Digiorgio and Murphy seem to be nonexistant.
The album starts of quite nice actually. DNR is fast, brutal, evil sounding, catchy. Everything you'd want from a thrash song, but it does have one flaw. Lack of lead guitar. That's one complaint about this album that I have. James Murphy plays on this album and from the amount of lead guitar on here it's hard to tell. Down for Life is more midpaced and upbeat, but still quite a nice song.
After that the album starts wavering. Eyes of Wrath is crap, no riff intensity and overall boring. True Believer has a really fucking catchy middle break with some nice soloing, but the rest of the the song is basically like Eyes of Wrath. 3 Days of Darkness has a cool chanting part along with a nice riff, but the rest of the riffs and arrangements sound forced and make the song sound goofy and modern. After that we get a sweet Death Metal-esque song in Legions of the Dead. Some killer riffs in this and Chuck's vocals are growled. This is this album's Dog Faced Gods.
The rest.....filler and uninspired. It's not worth the time.
So after starting out with two great songs, going off kilter and having two songs that are half good, and then one more good one before totally going off the deep end for the 2nd half of the album we get a really sub-par album. At least it's better than the last abortion Testament gave us.
Just go get the Legacy, or download the first two songs and Legion of the Dead.
When it comes to the opinions on Testament’s 1999 ‘The Gathering’ album, the field is clearly divided into two sides. For one side, ‘The Gathering’ is a further departure from Testament’s initial sound, not drifting as far into the Death Metal area than its predecessor ‘Demonic’, but nothing compared to what the band was doing on ‘The Legacy’ and ‘The New Order’. The other side enjoys ‘The Gathering’ as an outstanding Thrash Metal album, which tops virtually any Thrash album released in the 1990’s. And although I understand and respect the opinions of the first side, I am definitely a part of the latter. There is simply too much to enjoy on the album to just weep about the fact that this is not ‘The Legacy’.
Opening track ‘D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)’ is a true kick in the face in that matter. As soon as the first guitar riff starts, with a pounding rhythm section underneath, you’ll be blown to the other side of your room with a smile of pure thrashing euphoria. Chuck Billy seems to have made a return to clean singing again and Eric Peterson’s riffs are simply killer. ‘D.N.R.’ is quite simply the best opener Testament has recorded since ‘Over The Wall’.
But it’s hard to go wrong with a lineup such as this one. Although Chuck Billy and Eric Peterson are the only remaining members from the original lineup, they are accompanied by fine musicians. Completing the guitar duo with Eric Peterson is James Murphy, while the rhythm section is comprised of bass master Steve DiGiorgio and none other than Dave Lombardo on drums. An interesting thing is that DiGiorgio isn’t nearly as present on this album as he is on any other album he plays on. On this album, it’s rather his sound than his skillful playing that really adds something to the result.
However, an all star lineup such as this one can only properly function if the song material is good enough. That is most certainly the case on ‘The Gathering’. The funny thing is...even though it was the overall Death Metal sound that made ‘Demonic’ my least favorite Testament-album, it’s the two Death Metal songs on this record that rank among my top favorites. ‘Legions Of The Dead’ is a full-blown Thrash fest, with Eric Peterson riffing at full speed, Dave Lombardo drumming all over the place and Chuck Billy grunting all his rage out on top of that. And the closing track ‘Fall Of Siple Dome’ is nothing short of amazing. The ultra heavy intro smashes your skull in, the killer riffing tears the flesh from your face and the more tranquil middle part – the only part of the song with clean vocals – gives you goosebumps and time to breathe, before the speedy ending gives you the final blow. Count Dave Lombardo’s incredible double bass work to that and all I can conclude is that this is simply one of the best songs Testament has ever recorded.
Another favorite of mine is ‘True Believer’. Chuck Billy does an amazing vocal delivery on this song and it’s structured really well. The mellower verses build up to the heavily pounding choruses very nicely and all that together makes ‘True Believer’ a powerful track. But there’s enough to enough to enjoy on the rest of the album as well. There’s a few slower and more grinding parts thrown in for variation, as displayed in the heavily grooving ‘3 Days In Darkness’ and the mystical, Arabic sounding ‘Eyes Of Wrath’. ‘Down For Life’ has a thrashing groove that reminds me of OverKill’s more recent material. Not surprising, figuring that OverKill-guitarist Dave Linsk is an enormous fan of this album.
The production by Andy Sneap is – of course – flawless. There’s something different about this album’s production as compared to Andy Sneap’s other work though. Sneap’s productions tend to sound a little over-produced, but everything on ‘The Gathering’ sounds natural, without making it sound outdated in any way. It seems like Sneap really tried to make something special out of these recordings.
Quite simply; ‘The Gathering’ is a brilliant Thrash Metal album. Fans of the genre should own this album, if only because good Thrash Metal albums were a rarity back in the late 1990’s. But even if that wasn’t true, this is a quality album that deserves to be heard by anyone who has a heart for this genre.
For some reason, it has become the cool thing for "real" metalheads to write off Testament's early work and focus mainly on the supposed genius of "Low" and "The Gathering." Look at the lineup: fretless bass wonder Steve DiGiorgio, shredder (or journeyman, depending on if you're nice or not) James Murphy, and Dave Lombardo of Slayer. Look at the awesome song titles: "D.N.R. [Do Not Resuscitate]", "Riding the Snake", "Sewn Shut Eyes"... On paper this album is amazing!
Sadly for us, all is not as well as it seems. Only one of the three above give a performance that merits mentioning, and that is Dave Lombardo. Throughout the album, he pounds away on his drum kit, at times amazing with his speed ("Legions of the Dead"), and other times with a newfound subtlety that he never demonstrated with Slayer. James Murphy, however, is almost completely absent from this album. He just has a few solos that are boring and add nothing to the songs they are in. Even his best one, in "Eyes of Wrath," doesn't measure up to anything Skolnick did with the band. Andy Sneap's production, while giving Testament the first good sound of their careers, does DiGiorgio no favors. And it's not as if he does anything outstanding. If you listen closely, every once in a while he's doing something interesting, but for the most part he gives perhaps the most uninspired performance of his career.
"But if everyone is more restrained, that must mean that there is more room for stronger songwriting, right?"
In a word...no. Although Testament has moved away from that death metal garbage they embraced on the previous album, they seem to have replaced it with groove. "3 Days in Darkness" and "Riding the Snake," while not outright terrible songs, just rely on a simple riff to carry the whole song. No interesting solos, no sped up parts, just fucking groove. HAVEN'T WE LEARNED FROM PANTERA WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ALL WE DO IS GROOVE? That's right, you sell millions of records. Perhaps that is why so many people see this as Testament's best. Unfortunately, neither groove nor weak performances are even the biggest problem this album has. The songwriting itself is shabby, to say the least. "Allegiance" has no point whatsoever, while Chuck Billy growls about how someone (metalheads, I assume) should be united. Wait, that sounds familiar, oh yeah, that's right, Judas Priest did that twenty years ago. And while we're talking about stolen ideas, it needs to be mentioned that the "I can't help my friend...help...him...self" part of "Down for Life" is directly taken from Slayer's "Behind the Crooked Cross"! "Fall of Sipledome" sees Testament trying to write some death/thrash epic or something and it fails miserably.
All is not lost, however. "D.N.R. [Do Not Resuscitate]" sees the band (minus Murphy) hint at what could have been. The riffs crush, Chuck Billy sounds like he is going to reach through the speakers and strangle any neck he can reach, and Lombardo shows calculated insanity on the drums. Man, this song never fails to get the adreniline flowing. "Eyes of Wrath" has a good set of riffs and a nice break near the end to which all heads must bang. "True Believer" is probably the most accessible on here, a nice breakdown halfway through in the "Ash...to...ash, dust to dust" part.
Yet even with these three songs, the album as a whole is beyond disappointing. I guess they were trying to sound modern, but this doesn't hold up well at all. The best purpose that this album can serve is to be a gateway album for fans of metalcore who will probably marvel at its heaviness. Metalheads that are more familiar with the genre and with Testament will probably not find much to like here, so be forewarned.
Testament's final studio album is quite an average one, although pretty good if compared to what came before it. On 'The Gathering' there is a 'supergroup' lineup of sorts, with Lombardo, DiGiorgio and Murphy among the two Testament regulars Billy and Peterson. By the premise alone, this would be an awesome album, in which each player would contribute their talents to create a masterpiece. However, it is a release that, while not bad, fails to stick out in any discernible way.
After the terrible 'Demonic' this is actually quite good. But compared to other thrash releases and metal releases in general this just reeks of mediocrity. It isn't even that much of a thrash record, as there is still a few groove songs present. The riffing doesn't really stick out as being anything brilliant, and everything has been done before. While some riffs are awesome (such as the ones in 'D.N.R.') there is so much averageness on display it just ruins the record. There isn't much in the way of soloing either, and although there are more than on 'Demonic' they don't make you crap your pants like Skolnick's did. They sound like they're there for the hell of it, as some songs would be better off without them. The drum work is quite good and should be coming from Lombardo, and he offers some pummeling rhythms. Chuck Billy's vocals are also quite good, and a clear step up from the half assed ones on 'Demonic'. While he has strayed away from his 'classic' thrash vocals he exhibited on the first album his vocal work on here is still more than competant. The growls are used in moderation while his superior clean singing rightfully takes up most of the songs.
Most of the songs are either good or bad, with the exception of the opening track and 'Legions of the Dead'. The riffs on here are simply amazing, and can hold up to what was being released in the 80s easily. Unlike some of the others, it stops when it should so it doesn't sound overlong. Chuck's vocals are excellent with some awesome Death Metal growling combined with his trademark clean vocals. 'Legions of the Dead', is the closest they ever got to Death Metal with a fast paced, death-ish riff underneath growled vocals. Unfortunately there are also some really bad songs as well. 'True Believer' drags on and on with annoying interludes in between, while 'Riding the Snake' is an example of a song which could simply be classified as "what the fuck?!". The ones in between just blend into each other, sounding like a blur most of the time due to the riffs not being distinctive enough.
'The Gathering' is a missed opportunity. Had the band at the time realised their full potential shown in the standout songs at the time of writing, this would be an awesome thrash record and the perfect way to end their career. However, what really happened is we got two great songs, two really bad ones and eight which are just plain average and don't sound different to each other. It's not bad, just irritating to think how good this could've been.
Whether or not you'll like Testament's 1999 effort can be figured out by answering a simple question. Are you a thrash purist? If the answer is yes. Chances are you will not like this album. If you're a passing fan of the genre, who is willing to see the genre screwed around with, and have a few other influences having large effects on the sound. Chances are you will love this album.
I for one think that this album is fantastic. There's a hell of a groove, the vocals are not thrash vocals, more or less a thrash-death hybrid, there's a lot of chugging riffs, about half the songs are slower, groove driven songs, and to be honest, only about three songs hit me as pure thrash. I have no problem with this, but as you can see from other reviewers, people who do will think this album's worth about a 50%.
To tell the truth, I never really liked early Testament, they just sounded too similar to Metallica, who were far superior to Testament. This is a completly new identity and is simply crushing. Yes, this is mixed by Andy Sneap, so no matter how fast the music moves, the production is going to damage the foundations of your house.
The songs fit into three main catagories, thrashing monsters (DNR, Legions of the Dead, Fall of Sipledome), heavy groove driven songs (Down for Life, 3 days in Darkness, Riding the Snake, Allegience, Sewn Shut Eyes) and very slow groove songs, with thrash breaks (Eyes of Wrath, True Believer, Careful What You Wish For). So yes, there's not too much true thrash here.
The band here is an all-star group, with some very famous names (in the world of metal) amoungst the standard duo of Eric Peterson and Chuck Billy. With a team of James Murphy, Steve Digeorgio, and Dave Lombardo siding with these two, the result is surprsingly groove driven. With only a few solos found within, and most of those being short 'outro' solos.
I haven't heard much James Murphy, but since his early days he really seems to be content with what he's achieved, and knows that he'll always be refered to as 'death metal god James Murphy', he really seems to be coasting with his riffs over the last few years. Resulting in his riffs being grooves, rather than crazy riffs that challenge the mind. Eric is as always over-shadowed by his axe partner, and also seems to be content with developing a good resume of people he's played with.
With that said, the riffs are good, not to mention catchy as hell, and, when needed, as aggressive and infuriated as any you'll ever hear. The guitar sound is amazingly heavy, in fact it makes most of Andy Sneaps other guitar mixes seem patheticly weak. It's that crushing.
I'm with the fans on the drumming, Dave Lombardo is at his incredible best. The drums move from quite amazing double bass beats, to his normal frenzied fills. There's really not that much to say, it's Lombardo, it's going to rule, it's general knowledge.
Chuck Billy proves to be probably the whole reason why this album works for its fans, and fails for is deprecators. He is downright godly on The Gathering, His voice and styling is original and nearly impossible to replicate, yet not obscure or random sounding. It just sounds perfect. Almost every groove on the album, no matter how many there are, and how often you'd just like to hear some mind-numbing thrash is carried through to highly enjoyable levels by Chuck. Of course, they are death tinged, which pisses off some people, and they do work well with grooves and promotes the sometimes excessive use of them, which also pisses off some people.
The Gathering is a very strong effort, there are a few too many plodding songs, and not enough all out fast songs, because the three (or four if you count Down for Life, despite it's incredible groove) really don't get old, even after many listens. I've already stated some clues as to whether not you'll like this. Hell, even if you don't think it sounds like a good album, pick it up anyway, the first two songs and the other two thrashers are totally worth the $15 I paid for it. Who knows, the rest might surprise you.
Is it cause Lombardo is on here? He sounds like any ol' drummer on most of this album. If I didnt know he was on this album, i wouldnt even notice. Now if this were Reign In Blood or Seasons-type material, I'd check to see who the hell is absolutely pounding that kit. But alas, nothing special. And as for everyone else, it's just average stuff. The guitars sound choppy, which might have to do with the bass drum, which doesnt sound tight at all. Chuck Billy's vocals are nice, but they get kinda bland after a while.
I have to say, the first time i heard this, i thought this was a crazy album. But as time went on, i realized this is just mediocre thrash, mixed with some death vocals here and there. There are some really fucking THRASH! moments but overall it's just average.
Lets take the first 2 songs, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and Down For Life. They both have a few alright riffs and good beat. No solos, kinda boring, repetitive bridges, and kinda follow the same format. Good aggression, but that's it.
Now we have Eyes of Wrath. This one turned me off the first time i heard it. It's kinda boring. The more i listened, I got some of the intensity from it. But it still seemed to miss something. Solo at the end, but it kinda sucks.
The first real good song. True Believer. It's not all out thrash, but that middle-section is absolutely HEAVY! Very nice work. Good heavy riffs. The first song with a decent solo as well.
Three Days in Darkness has an ok riff, but the vocals seem to kill it. Not very memorable. Too much fill ins with the riffs.
LEGIONS OF THE DEAD!!!!! The absolute best song on this album. One problem - it's only 2 and a half minutes long. This is what more of the album should have been. Lombardo fucking smashing his drums, fast and insane riffs, and Billy's menacing vocals. Good mix of thrash and death here. Nice semi-melodic solo at the end. This is the halfway point in the album, and that's not good, for the rest of the album goes from nothing special, to boring as hell!
Careful What You Wish For sounds good at first, but it gets boring real fast. And the verse is is too jumpy. This should have been on Demonic. Testament has put too much death metal in their music. I like death metal, but only when it's done properly.
Riding the Snake SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS!!!!!!!!
Allegiance is not much better. Fucking horrible verse. You can hear Alice in Chains somewhere in there. An ok riff at the one minute mark, but it's drowned in the crappiness that is the rest of the song...
Sewn Shut Eyes could have been better if Mr. Dave Lombardo slaughtered his little drum set. The vocals dont help the song one bit. This is really boring.
The last song is Fall of Sipledome. Now this is what should have followed Legions of the Dead. This is absolute FUCKING THRASH with death vocals. Awesome riff and everyone is at the top of their game. The verse has a little of old-school Testament type of singing, in terms of that 'trying to fit every word in one line' kind of singing. But with death vocals. Tempo change at 2:31 is annoying because it has that sound of the rest of the album that just keeps getting boring. But the slower section is kinda cool.
It's average thrash with a few awesome parts. The first half is decent overall, whereas the second hald sucks, minus the last song. If you like Testament, get this, but don't go crazy looking for it. Just get the older stuff and the re-recorded FSSD.
Testament had released an album called Low, that actually brought the band high critical acclaim (pun intended). The reason? They got rid of Alex Skolnick and hired James Murphy to do the lead guitar work. The style of these two great guitar players is so different, it resulted in such a change of sound, that made the band more brutally heavier than before, which in my opinion, is a good thing. Murphy did not play on Demonic, but he was invited back to record this album, the Gathering, along with a couple of other additions to the band. And these are all-star additions, my fellow headbanging friend, and they come in the form of Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Grip Inc.) on drums and Steve DiGiorgio (Iced Earth, ex-Death) on bass, joining the ranks of Chuck Billy (vocals) and Eric Peterson (guitar). So now you ask, with these key additions, what does it mean for this album? I will tell you now - nonstop headbanging and moshing. This is easily the heaviest Testament album I've heard, thanks to the new additions to the band.
"D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)" and "Down For Life" start the album off on an extremely heavy note, thanks in no small part to Dave Lombardo's blitzkrieg drumming attack. This is the exact same type of drumming that turned him into one of metal's premiere drummers while he was a member of Slayer. Chuck Billy once again experiments with the death metal "growl" here, but he does not do this for the whole album. "Eyes Of Wrath" is probably the best song here, because it features a very nice headbanging, thrashy rhythm in it, as James Murphy proves that he deserves the critical acclaim that is often placed upon him. This is probably also the heaviest song on this album.
"True Believer" is next, and the drumming is a little more rhythmic this time around, but once again, the guitar work is excellent. Chuck Billy also proves on this song why he is one of thrash metal's most underrated singers, and his growl during the chorus of this song is undeniable. "3 Days In Darkness" - man, the groove in this! Excellent head-moving rhythm here, as this song has probably the best chug riff on this album. "Legions Of The Dead" is a very thrashy song that will get the mosh pits churning, the hair flying, and the heads banging, thanks to Lombardo's over-the-top double bass drumming. "Careful What You Wish For" and "Riding The Snake" have another nice display of chug and strafe riffing, and is another great head-moving song..
Dave Lombardo's double bass drumming and James Murphy's guitar playing get things really rolling on "Allegiance" and "Sewn Shut Eyes", but these are two of the slower songs, but of course, that's all relative. Billy's vocals sound pretty cool here, especially during the verses. Lombardo's drumming in "Sewn Shut Eyes" provide a good foundation to work from, as do Murphy's and Peterson's riffing. Billy's growl also fits in nicely during the chorus of this song. And at album's end is the closer "Fall Of Sipledome", which is an all-out moshpit and stage-diving fest, as it closes the album in brutal fashion.
Fans of thrash metal will definitely find much on The Gathering to enjoy, as this album is one of the most underrated albums of the late 1990's. Unfortunately, this was originally released on a very small label called Burnt Offerings (not to be confused with the Iced Earth album of the same name), so not a lot of people got to hear it. Fortunately, it is now available through Spitfire Records, and you should not have a problem finding this album in most record stores. Thrash metal fans have no excuse not to own this album, as The Gathering delivers top-notch thrash to the core.
It's irretating to think that only at 1999, a year before the potential "End of the world" - a metal band, an American metal band, will release the ultimate metal icon. Testament - which I didn't noticed much till 1994's Low that evolved thrash metal into more power-core and jumpie-downbits and even groovie spirals - had reached the musical verdict and released the ultimate metal (and for me - the ultimate musical) album.
It is very hard for me yo put my thrills in words, but this album shocked my world as an earthquake, opened my casket (world)wide with a Armageddon-like D.N.R. The songs kick-off with a short acoustic intro - a trademark of most of the melodic black metal bands, and the tribal drumming as an appetiser - and then with no warning it's smashing yer face with the blasting riff ever made ! Eric Peterson, Testament's riff-master is squizing everything he got from his screaming Gibson till all lay dead ! Dave Lombardo, the fallen angel from the Slayer legend is back with attack after a minor delay (called Grip Inc.) and he pound the drums as if they were his worst enemies and hw won't stop till he leaves nothing but atoms ! Chuck Billy's voice is the ultimate-voice-imaginable for a metal band. He shouts at you - not as a normal Araya-style shouting (Cuz he still got his melodic verses... if ya can call it "melodic") but even his breathing sounds infernal ! You must understand - even if the singing reminds alot of Death metal growls - It is done with the speed-metal technique - and as a vocalist (especialy death metal vocalist) I listenned to this album thousands of times - It is not growls - he snarls with it's true voice - he probably buy his beer or go to the supermarket, browling the casheers with the nastiest throat ever given to a mortal being with words like "Give me 6-pack or God save you Noooooow !!!"
the song is probably the best song ever written and played that reached my ears. I never heard a metal song that I loved more than D.N.R and I've being searching for more than 5 years.
But the album is not D.N.R alone ! Hell no - right after the bombastic ending - we go deeper into the maelstorm with "Down For Life" - which is probably would be the result if Metallica never written Master of Puppets and left Testament write it from the top at 1999. Unlike Metallica's epic - Testament Down for life uses almost the same main riff - only varied into a groovie striker. in the middle of the song there is classic head-banging virtue with the C-part. amazing mother-fucker.
Eyes of Wrath is probably the most Pantera-ish Testament song to date. Even though Low was over the top new-styled thrash metal - the sound of Eric's guitar in this song is violent as Dimbag's works on "Becoming".
a clean verse only serve the song better - cuz it is a little longer than the first two - and slower. Chuck's singing is at his regular unimaginable acts - and Steve Digiorgo - a bass-guitar magician gives a thick and nasty filling to the whole rythm. Here we can hear the first James Murphy's solo in the last 5 years - with an achful chimming in lurking sounds. I've always said that Murphy's is more of a soundman than a guitar player - and he is an amazing guitar player - so you probably need to rethink he's unbelivieble sound-work, mostly in Low - but also in The Gathering.
True believer is the most chilling song on this album. When Pantera decided that there is no need for ballads in metal albums - only crazed semi-ballads with clean and brooding verses and with a tear-it-all-apart chorus - they write down "This love". Testament's True beliviever is as good as Pantera's jem - and with a grinding breakdown it's drive us to the next song.
3 days in darkness is a groovie hit, probably a mosh-erruptor in shows, it's carries a berserker's like guitar-work and a bile preaching of a gloom future from the priest of all that is evil, father Chuck Billy. the "Oh-oo-oh" of the gang-like singing reminds me an old Testament fashion from "The legacy". cool shit, but the song gets better when it's slows down to a destrictive riffage till the verse repeats for the final time.
So all we have here is absolute fomulas for speed metal, a bit of new-school modern thrash with a glaze of death metal,
But in "The legions of the dead" all the rules are broken ! This songs is as fast as D.N.R but as heavy as fucking DEICIDE ! Testament's closest effort to real Death metal with real blast-beats and squicking slayer-like solo. this is also the shortest song here, but surely the most brutal one, in the most holy way imaginable. For all the whimps who think thrash metal is Metallica's Fade to black or Megadeth "A tout la mound" - let them hit a roll on "The legions of the dead". Thrash metal will never be the same.
When I said that this is the best metal album ever made- I ment it. The next song is more of a Rock-N-Roller thrash, like Black Sabbath meats the new Testament. It's rolls arround with the name "Careful what you wish for" and from time to time it's reminds us that we are still listenning to "The gathering" and not some hard-rock reunion show.
"Riding the snake" is another blaster - here mister Digiorgo give us all he got as a bass-guitar-god and slick his fingers on his double-neck-5-strings-fretless-bass with such virtuasity that we can confuse him for a metallic version of Zappa. The song in general rules - from it's short intro to the chorus and all around. A fine song.
The next is the "Alligance" - the wickest track here, and one of the shorter song in this album - Imagine 1994's ballad "Trail of tears" second part. Billy's indian origings screaming for vengance through a groovie-son of a bitch-song. It's cool - but far from the album's finest moments.
Sewn shot eyes is next and it's smash with it's riff everything that stand in it's way. I'm sure it was written as a filler - but it's still run it's personal havoc to the end of the song,
And the final moments comes with "The fall of Sipledom" - a fast riff that only goes even faster ! Listen to the bass-drum ! It rolls as a train toward a fallen bridge ! Lombardo justifies his picking as a session drummer for this album here, and it keeps blows in your mind even when the song and the album are reaching their ends.
The production's here is over-the-top from the mastro Andy Sneap - the wet dream of all metal-head is to work with this genious. He makes even Skinlab sounds metallic ! So the work on this perfection is a true art.
If you like metal in any forms - get this album. Probably all those who can't appriciate this masterpiece are a bit afriad of the true Testament power.
The Ultimate I tell ya ! ULTIMATE !
Testament has always been a great band, but their latest release (of new origonal material that is) has raised the bar for true thrash metal. The Gathering is a top notch thrash metal album by one of the top notch names in thrash: Testament. The Gathering displays one of the bands finest lineups: Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, James Murphy, Steve Digorgio and the almighty Dave Lombardo.
This album strays away from the bands classic works and gets down and dirty. This album has a more dynamic approach to the typical thrash album. Unlike Slayer's God Hates Us All, the Gathering gives the listener a new and better sound. DNR is the albums opener which is a good selection. It stays heavy but does not pull out all the stops to impress the listener right off the bat. The album slowly becomes faster and heavier where Legions of the Dead comes and rips the listener a new butt. The album continues to shock and amaze. IMO a huge element to this albums greatness was Dave Lombardo. Any fan of Slayer would not expect Dave to play this good. IMO the Gathering is Lombardo's finest hour. He stays away from the classic 80s thrash beats and brings in a catalogue of diverse drums beats. Petersons guitar work also takes a huge step up. No longer do we constantly hear "junt junt". Peterson and Murphy's dual guitar work diversifies every song. The production of the guitars as well is phenominal, this is best expressed on songs like Eyes of Wrath and Riding the Snake. The guitars are not playing the same part every time, the guitar greats deffinetally worked well in this album. The album also brings in other influences. The album does not constantly go at a mind blistering speed. The album's speed is a tad bit slower which albums the band to show off their skills in other regions of the metal underworld.
I give this album two big and heavy horns. This is definetally a huge step for the band and sets the bar pretty high for their new album.
In 1999, right in the thick of the nu metal age, when some of the worst music ever made was being forced down the throats and ears of listeners, the thrash band that never gave up was hard at work creating what is easily one of the most essential metal albums ever. No that is not an exaggeration, Testament’s The Gathering is not only their personal best work but easily a true heavy metal classic.
Right from the start, it had the makings of a masterpiece. Despite the absence of Alex Skolnick, guitarists Eric Peterson and James Murphy of Death are an arsenal of riffs and chops and fellow Death member, Steve DiGiorgio provides technical but pounding low end. As if that weren’t enough, Dave Lombardo (who needs no introductions!) is so graciously providing the double-bass-laden beats.
Ever since their metamorphosis on 1994’s Low, the band has been honing their new sound and have finally perfected it. Testament is maybe the only Bay Area thrash band that neither pussied out or stayed stuck in their 80s ways. Human tank, Chuck Billy seamlessly segues from his semi-melodic screams to terrifying growls that put most death metal vocalists to shame while merciless chugging guitars are propelled by the thick grooves of the rhythm section.
The songwriting on The Gathering is nearly flawless. The opening song, “D.N.R.” bludgeons listeners with its thrashing blastbeat giving way to “Down for Life”, reminiscent of Overkill’s “Elimination” and easily one of the catchiest metal songs ever. “Sewn Shut Eyes” and “Fall of Sipledome” are lessons in bludgeoning death metal and “Allegiance” is almost reminiscent of White Zombie on steroids. The highlight of the record, though, is “Legions of the Dead” which is without a doubt, the successor to “Dog Faced Gods” with its frenetic pace and epic scale.
This is one of the few heavy metal albums that has absolutely no faults. Testament have forged the perfect combination of heaviness, hooks, speed, and musicality. While bands like Metallica aimlessly grab at straws releasing awful material and still others can’t seem to get out of the 1980s, the best Bay Area metal band remains true to their commitment to metal, maybe even more so than Slayer. If you don’t go out and buy The Gathering, I’ll have Chuck Billy suplex your sorry ass onto concrete.
You know, I still don't get how people can be saying how all the the 80s thrash bands started to suck shortly after the 80s ended. One listen to this should prove how wrong they are, at least in the case of Testament. This is the most brutal thing the boys have ever done, and one of the most brutal albums out there - 40-something minutes of ripping, pounding, violent, bleed-from-the-ears-and-break-your-neck heavy metal. It's more or less thrash, with some somewhat death metal-ish influences (even beyond the vocals).
"DNR" lets you know what you're in for immediately, like a three-minute ride on a bullet train that smashes through a brick wall on the way. Chuck Billy snarls and roars like a miniature wolverine has taken up residence in his throat...this song is an otherwordly experience live. Wear body armor. However, it goes downhill real quickly for a few minutes, not because the next track "Down For Life" is bad, but because the main riff is a NOTE-FOR-NOTE ripoff of Overkill's "Elimination." Even the song structure is similar...for shame, guys, you can do better than this.
Oh right, they do. The album picks up steam once again with "Eyes of Wrath" and the ultra-catchy anthem to evil "True Believer", droops a bit around the mediocre "Careful What You Wish For," and then roars right back in with the album's best track, "Riding the Snake."
Everything comes together here, with Chuck's melodic growls, Eric Peterson's riffmastery, James Murphy shredding till his fingers bleed (not as good as Skolnic, but better fit for this album), Steve DiGorgio doing what he always does, which is kick ass, and Dave Lombardo...
Oh yeah, did I mention this album has DAVE FUCKING LOMBARDO on drums? And he turns in a performance that puts his already-badass Slayer catalog to shame. "Riding the Snake" is the best, but "True Believer" and the album's most brutal track, "Legions of the Dead," also feature amazing drumwork.
The only flaws with this album are that some of the songs are a bit structurally similar, and Chuck, though he does a good job mixing the death growl and the more old-school sound, doesn't have anywhere NEAR the pipes of the Practice What You Preach days. Testament could always do some of the best ballads in thrash, and though a ballad would be WAAAAY out of place here, a melodic interlude wouldn't hurt. Ah well, there's not much to throw on here anyway because it already kicks much ass.
So if you want to hear Testament shit all over Order and very nearly match Low (in terms of overall quality, that is; this is far more brutal), then get this album. But be careful with that volume button, because this is the kind of thing that, if played too loud, causes neighbors to form into torch- and pitchfork-wielding mobs and descend on your home in fits of rage.
Then again, you can just turn it up still more and knock them all over. So go ahead and blast this. Celebrate the enduring power of thrash metal. Become a True Believer.
Testament are one of the bands who established the Bay Area thrash scene in the 80s, along with the likes of Exodus and Metallica. They're also one of the few bands who have continued to play true Thrash till this day.
"The Gathering" starts off with one of my favorite songs ever - DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). The song sets the trend for the album, with a fast-paced rhythm. However, Chuck Billy's screaming vocals from earlier albums seems to have all but gone. The only problem with this opening song is that it is too short, being only 3:33 long.
The second track, Down For Life, continues the trend set by the first track, with fast heavy guitar work. Drums are also excellent, but again, the vocals are very flimsy in areas. I found myself sub-consciously headbanging to this track
The intro to the thrid track, Eyes Of Wrath, slowly builds to an outburst of nice thrashing at about 1 minute in. Vocals on this song are a lot stronger. However, much of this song is just filler, and not very interesting at all. The last minute is probably the best part of the song.
The vocals continue to get better, with a nice intro to the fourth track, True Believer. This song is pure heavy metal at it's finest; drums and guitar work are both excellent. However, as with the third track, there are gaps in the song that are just filler. An excellent riff surfaces about half way through the song, leading to a decent guitar solo.
The intro to the fifth track, Three Days In Darkness, is superb, leading to one of the best songs on the album. The main riff is thrash-tastic, and vocals are again strong on this track.
The next track, Legions Of The Dead, sounds more Death metal than thrash. The vocals are growled in the style of death metal, and the drumming is unrelenting. The only problem is the song clocks in at only 2:37 - an extra minute would have been nice!
Track seven, Careful What You Wish For, sounds a lot more "old school" than the other songs. It has very simple guitar work, with the vocals being both growled and sung.
The eighth track, Riding The Snake, is another thrash/death crossover, with some weird riffs. Though, this time, the vocals are sung. Drums are overpowering once again, and the bassline is very good.
Track nine is back to thrash, with a fast start, with strong vocals from the start. Dave Lombardo is doing a great job on drums, as always. The drawback of this song is that it's another short one - 2:37.
The tenth track Sewn Eyes Shut is a classic thrash song - intertwining guitars and drums start the track. Vocals are half sung, half growled. The best vocal performance on the album so far. Nice drum solo about 2:45 minutes into the song.
The last track on the album, Fall Of Sipledome is a great last song. Heavy and fast, but the vocals seem to be toned down a lot, and don't have a great impact on the song.
Any thrash metal fan should have this album in their collection!
Some people see this as Testament's triumphant return, but I see it differently, the album is not as good as most people say. There are some moments that harken back to the solid thrash the band used to make, but for the most part the album has a heavily modern sound, that doesnt mesh well.
There is a small amount of lead work, and Chuck continues to use the psuedo-death growls to death. Luckily he actually screams a little on the album.
The album opens with D.N.R., this is my favorite song on the album. Has a great pace to it, and some nice riffs. Solid song.
Down for Life is also a good song, good pace to it, good vocals, but they sound like crap when Chuck goes into his little Phil Anselmo fits. bleh...
Eyes of Wrath is next, slow intro, pretty boring song. Mix of growels and screams, doesnt come across well.
True Believer follows, uneventful song, mostly a slow plodding song. With a pickup at the end that does little.
3 Days of Darkness is next, another mid paced song, but this one is actually a decent song, and actually has a good change in riffs.
Legions of the Dead is next, very fast, and a great song. Along with DNR, this song is a highlight.
Careful What You Wish for is a boring song.
Riding the Snake is the same, that middle interlude has some mallcore influence. :(
Allegiance is next, great song, but very short.
Sewn Shut Eyes is next, and is another good song. Great pace to it, the vocals are a bit distracting, Chuck should stick with his original style, if he still can, the death growls blow. The riffs are somewhat repetitive as with most of the album.
Fall of Simpledome ends the album. And is a great song, fast with good riffs. The lead towards the end reminds me alot of some Iced Earth. Again the vocals are distracting, but fit the song more than the others on the album.
So the album has a few good songs, but is far too repetitive to be seen as a great thrash album. Last time I checked thrash isnt the same 2 or 3 riffs repeated over and over. I dislike Chuck Billy's vocals on this album, and I have since he chose to growl. There is little lead work on the album. This album shows that the band is heavier than ever, but that it has lost nearly all of the thrash.
If you like fast, heavy, repetitive music, then this is the album for you.
I've heard this album being slagged before for not having any riffs. And quite frankly, I don't get it -- at all! If you can't hear the riffs on The Gathering, pull yer head outta yer ass and listen! There are riffs galore! Of course, not as much technical godliness as early Testament, but it still kicks ass. This album basically singlehandedly reaffirmed my love of thrash. The first time I threw this album on I was absolutely enthralled, couldn't turn it off. From start to finish this album smokes, with blistering numbers like "Legions of the Dead" and "Down for Life" to the slower "Three Days of Darkness". And, of course, there's the ultra-heavy "Eyes of Wrath" and "D.N.R.".
The addition of Dave Lombardo on drums definitely helped this albums cause, as they are perfect in a simple way in classic Dave fashion -- easily his best work since mid-80's Slayer. Chuck Billy's vocals are the best they've ever been, thank god he threw away the total-death metal style of 1997's Demonic. The only problem I can see anyone having with this album is the lack of guitar solos, especially when someone as talented as James Murphy is on board for lead guitars. But what this album lacks in solos, it makes up for in riffs and songwriting... Eric Peterson is a fucking genius! I can hardly wait for the next one!!!
This album blew me away. I've had this album for quite some time and everytime I hear it I am impressed with the album. It's thrash Metal for those who don't know...hell, Testament is a very well known Metal band and with this in mind I will not go into much, if any, detail on their previous work.
The Gathering is a great album. It has pretty much everything any fan of Metal would enjoy and for those who don't know what that is: 1)intense drumming 2)thrashy riffs 3)powerful vocals...the only complaint I have with this album is the lack of solos. The Legacy for one is my favorite Testament for solos, that entire album rules and with killer solos which are the best parts of the songs (on the most part) but this isn't The Legacy, it's The Gathering.
If The Gathering had as many solos as any of ther Testament album it would slay but it wouldn't be the same album and because of this I like it the way it is...To describe the sound a little more would be fairly easy I suppose. Imagine thrashy riffs that could only be done by Eric Pederson accompanied with great drumming by none other than skin pounder Dave Lombardo and ofcourse, the gutteral vocals of Chuck Billy. The vocals don't vary much on this album but it doesn't take away from this album at all.
I know this review gives little to the imagination but if you are to take any advice at all, find samples of Fall of Sipledome and Legions of The Dead...and if those samples aren't enough, then you're probably dead. Ofcourse, this is strictly opinion.