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Testament were never really all that good. Sure, Skolnick could pull out some great soloing and they have a few songs that completely own the living fuck out of you, but for the most part they were a 2nd rate thrash band that eventually changed their sound to Groove Metal with a new guitarist. Their debut album 'The Legacy' is their best effort, having the best riffs of their career and some truly awesome soloing.
Yet it still doesn't feel like a great album. It feels as if it is trying to break through to greatness at times but it never really does, feeling content to stay on second gear and only occasionally going up to 11. The main culprit of this problem is that a lot of the riffs are similar to each other and hence a lot of the songs seem to blur together with only a few highlights along the way. I can distinguish songs such as 'Over the Wall', 'Raging Waters' and 'Alone in the Dark', but play me any other songs and I can't pinpoint what exactly the name of the them are. This blurring problem is most evident during the first half of the album, in which there are a few songs in a row that sound remarkably similar to each other, only sounding a little different by some different melodies here and there. What amplifies this problem is the poor production. Usually I don't mind badly done or raw productions, but on here it affects the songs. The guitar tone doesn't have much weight to it and seems to be sort of 'fluffy', and when you consider the fact that the riffs sound the same on a lot of occasions this is even worse.
When you strip away these complaints however, this is still essentially an above average speed/thrash album, albeit a repetitive one. The guitar solos are the greatest thing seen on here, with Skolnick being able to pull off some great melodic leads. And while a lot of the riffs do sound similar to each other, this album still gets the head banging throughout, only pausing every now and then for a melodic intro. The pace is kept very fast throughout, and whilst occasionally sounding a bit too overfast adds to the good points of the album, as well as the brutality factor which despite not being too present is still there in a number of songs. The riffing is competent for the time it was released, and there are a number of really good riffs here and there. Chuck Billy's vocals are great, and sound aggressive yet melodic and every now and then he'll unleash a great scream.
As for highlights, the first that comes to mind would be the opener 'Over the Wall' with it's great main riff and the excellent solo that comes after it. 'Raging Waters' has some catchy vocal lines as well as a nicely done melodic riff while 'Alone in the Dark' starts off with an amazing intro solo after which it speeds up into a great midpaced riff combined with a great vocal performance.
While having a few major things wrong with it that drag it down, 'The Legacy' is still a pretty good album and Testament's best before they slowly deteriorated in quality. Anyone who likes good speed/thrash should definitely check this out.