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Now Testament are far from a all time great thrash band, thats for sure. They had good songwriting ability, but lacked enough good thrash riffs to save their lives. They had a mega-talented guitarist in Alex Skolnick, and a weak supporting cast besides maybe the drummer and bassist. Now they had some of the tools to make a great thrash band, but at best are a above average thrash band. They really didn't introduce any ideas that hadn't been tried before with this release, and its got alot of Master of Puppets structure worship with lots of repeated riffs.
Now onto the songs as usual."Over The Wall" has a nice main riff, and is interesting enough to have me sold. What the band fails to do here is follow it up with other great riffs, but the original concept is more than good enough to call this a highlight. "The Haunting" has alot of good riffage and even a solid tempo shift, and has brilliant catchy song writing. "Burnt Offerings" contains simply some of the best ever riffs in thrash history, so its ok that this song doesn't deliver in bulk. This song is the best song Testament has done besides "Reign of Terror". "Raging Waters" bores me half to death admittedly. Nothing new tried here at all. "C.O.T.L.D." is their hardest attack on the senses, but that only really works if your new to thrash.
"First Strike Is Deadly" has an absolutely brilliant solo, but besides that used the same generic Testariff's that we see in later albums amplified. "Do Or Die" is a catchy midpaced number, the pace is the only thing that makes it stand out from the rest. "Alone In The Dark" is good, well written, but lacks meaty riffs. Once again Skolnick delivers an amazing solo, but its obvious that the solo has been made longer to make up for the song writing. "Apocalyptic City" has nice lyrics, but lacks the playing to back it off like so many songs on the album.
Overall the album's production leaves a lot to be desired, with way too much emphasis put on the rhythm guitar and a semi-muddy guitar sound. The albums lack of riffs is made up for by truly innovative riffs, and creative songwriting. However, its painfully obvious that the band was running out of good ideas as soon as the second half of the album began.
All in all its good, especially for a Testament album. Some highlights include "Over The Wall", "The Haunting", "Burnt Offerings" and the solo in "First Strike Is Deadly". Despite this most of the material is painfully average, especially compared to other albums released in '87. Despite this, the album suceeds in enough ways for me to call it above average or even good.
Overall: Buy this album if your a Testament fan, or if you want mid-quality (occasionally high) thrash metal. Otherwise, just download the highlight songs and be done with it.
Outlook: Above Average-Good