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Testament's follow up to their monumental legacy is the last album of theirs that should be worth a damn to most. It still manages to keep up the momentum of the early '80s variety of thrash before it began to slow down in the latter third of the 80s, something that future efforts were consumed by.
This album does bare a strong resemblance to The Legacy. Several tracks prove to be absolute barnstormers, including 'Eerie Inhabitants', the title track, and the live staple 'Into the Pit'. These tracks don't have quite as many riffs as their 1987 predecessors, as most of the band's riffs were used up on their debut. However, they make up for this by being too short to meander and become dull, or are lengthened through other means (but I'll get on to that...). Even somewhat slower songs like the Aerosmith cover possess an energy to them, even when the album begins to run together somewhat during the latter half.
The main flaw of this album is it's predecessor's release date. One reason for The Legacy being so overlooked at the time is that it is a 1985 album that was put out after the style displayed on that album had been displayed in such seminal releases like Exodus' Bonded By Blood and Metallica's Ride The Lightning. As in, it was put out 2 years too late. This lead the band to strive for a unique sounding album, which is achieved through hefty doses of guitar soloing. And not solos that are sections of songs, these are solos over clean passages that form their own tracks and introduce songs. It is a novel approach, but does completely break up the flow of the album. For instance, raging opener 'Eerie Inhabitants' is broken in two by a beautiful but completely unnecessary solos. In truth, there is only about 27 minutes of actual songs on this album, and only 24 minutes of original songs at that. In their pursuit for a unique sound, they produced an EP's worth of material that has become completely filler laden and doesn't flow properly.
However, the band is still very much on form, at least. They really were trying; it's not as if this feels like a half-hearted grasp at the pay check. As previously mentioned, Skolnick's incessant soloing does get rather irritating, but they are executed very well. He never repeats himself, but they are still memorable. This album also marks Billy's last admirable vocal performance. He doesn't go for that crap and weak singing seen on Practice What You Preach, rather going for that somewhat abrasive and vaguely tonal style seen on their debut. Peterson has used up about 30% of his riffs on this album, having used up a further 40% on their debut. He still manages some excellent riffs here though; see that intro riff to the title track for an example of this.
The production is largely cleared up and louder than that of the debut. I can't help but feel that the energy from these songs gets sapped due to this production job regardless, lacking the visceral bite and tone of the debut. However, the guitars still have a bite to them, and there is enough reverb to give the album some atmosphere to it, and one that suits it at that. The issue this album's follow-up would have is a upbeat rock production combined with serious political lyrics.
Overall, this is essential purchase for anyone interested in thrash metal, really. Though the novelty of atmospheric guitar soloing does wear thin after a few listens, it is not overly unpleasant to the ears, even if the transitions are jarring. The actual songs on here are top notch, not just for Testament, but for the Bay Area scene of thrash. But get The Legacy before getting this one.
The moderators of this website do not allow us to review unfinished versions of an album. Of course, this is a comprehensible decision. In general, I fully agree. There is just one uncertainty. I am totally unsure whether it is allowed to write a review for "The New Order". Since its release at the end of the eighties, I have the irrepressible feeling that something is missing. Testament had written seven new tracks, only seven tracks. The remaining two pieces were just dreamful guitar solos. Admittedly, one of them was temporarily accompanied by the other instruments. Nevertheless, it made a rather incomplete impression. I got the feeling that the only purpose of these instrumentals was to lengthen the playtime. The absurdity of these numbers became evident in view of the fact that both sides of the vinyl also started with comparable guitar tones. Additionally, the album offered further dreamful guitar interludes. Without doubt, this product was definitely published too soon, for whatever (commercial) reason. The metallic parts of this so-called full-length did not even reach a playtime of 30 minutes. To put it in the words of James Hetfield: sad but true.
The drama - if we want to speak of a drama with respect to a product of the entertainment industry - was that Testament had composed some really breathtaking tracks. It was therefore a shame that they had not been released on a better constructed album. From my point of view, five of the "real" songs were almost unbeatable. The riffs constituted their most outstanding feature. It was exactly the kind of riffs that make you kneel down and pray to the God of thrash, quite irrespective of the fact that he does not exist. The voluminous voice of Chuck Billy, rarely supported by strong back vocals, did not pale beside this sensational guitar work. His performance impressed with tremendous expressiveness and the right amount of belligerence. Drums and bass guitar also made a decisive contribution to the final result. Furthermore, it was obvious that all musicians benefitted from the sound of the album. The powerful, differentiated and sharp production made a large impact. Alex Perialas, a well-known producer in his time, had mastered his trade in a very good manner. Each and every track, aggressive pieces like "The Preacher" or the title track as well as more catchy numbers such as "Trial by Fire", blew you away. Not to mention the gigantic openers of both sides of the record. Due to their suspenseful and dramatic configurations, they seemed to be a compensation for the strange appearance of the album.
The lyrics dealt with apocalyptic prophecies and dark scenarios. I guess that George Orwell and Nostradamus would have appreciated them. But also from an objective point of view, they were fully aligned with the message of the simple yet impressive cover artwork. Last but not least, the thrashing sections of the music fitted perfectly with the atmosphere of the cover.
However, this was just one side of the coin. The other side was represented by the boring instrumentals and the fairly repetitive "Day of Reckoning". Due to this contrast, "The New Order" was like a fragile building. Its facade impressed with beautiful architecture, but its back showed immense construction defects. Testament enriched my youth with a handful of sensational tunes but they failed to create a sensational full-length. Nevertheless, the record is still good enough to listen to it again and again, especially since the invention of the skip button.
Among the rich Bay Area scene bands, Testament were originally one of the most promising and innovative as their competent debut The Legacy proved. Their music was plenty of energy and aggression – yet also revealing an explicit touch of melody and class, a kinda typical characteristic by the late-80’s. The first album came out in a year when the subgenre was evolving into something ambitious and sophisticated – most bands eventually came up with ideas of their own, pushing away topics and predictable clichés and Billy & co.’s record undoubtedly contributed to the refinement of this kind of music. The distinctive methodology and nature of the tunes were, from the very beginning, peculiar and distinct from the rest, who didn’t define their characteristic sound until the second or third album, in general. However, the motivation, fire and creativity displayed on the second work The New Order wasn’t as surprising and fresh, these guys rather got stuck in the same formulas.
You can find here some slightly minimalist thrash cuts, the opening “Eerie Inhabitants” and “Trial By Fire” offer solid riffs which doesn’t progress substantially during the songs actually, structures are kinda uninventive and repetitive – yet effective. The grace and melody of those lines is occasionally stunning, strong harmonies provide the music of charm and sophistication, combined with absolute brutality and velocity of course, determining a good balance and diversity not many bands by that time could achieve. Harmonies are particularly indispensable to define the essence of “The Preacher”, introducing total roughness and vigor without eluding certain complexity and tenderness on some sections. Sensitive side of Testament is denied on “Into The Pit” or the classic “Disciplines Of The Watch” which is preceded by another of the many exhausting acoustic intros of the album, songs that embrace a more simplistic pattern intended to give speed and power control, reducing the complication of arrangements and instrumental passages. The title-track also presents some dull riffs and homogeneity on its composition, rhythm remains untouched and avoids tempo shifts, making the music instrumentally mediocre and poor – though not deprived of rage and fury. Melody soon reappears on that mellow chorus of “A Day Of Reckoning” and the Aerosmith cover verse, pushing away thrash elements to adopt a more accessible, rather cheesy perspective that doesn’t seem compatible with Chuck’s scruffy crude tone, even though he tries to sound as polite and neat as possible. Continuity of the record’s sonic violence and attitude is broken considerably with that sweet instrumental piece “Musical Death (A Dirge)” too, very much in the style of the future abysmal romantic ballads Testament would offer later – though putting all attention on elaborated pickin’ parts, which are at times lyrical but repeating the same scheme of “Hypnosis”.
So you won’t find here anything particularly alternative from what you heard already on The Legacy, this is an uninspired sequel, embracing the same formulas, including musically weaker songs on other hand. Dynamism and intensity are occasionally overwhelming, nearly spectacular but some tunes don’t have anything much to offer apart from a couple of decent riffs and some exquisite harmonies. Direction is lacking too often and repetition of structures affects the consistency and sense of the music. Riff variations are predictable and inconsequential – even though the combo Skolnick-Peterson intends to provide instrumental basis of so much complication and rigorous arrangements, there’s an important absence of originality and creativity, generally. Although Testament always had great potential as performers, technically professional and competent on the execution of instrumental sequences – solos are unique and richer than most empty unfocused pickin’ from other thrashers. The addition of melody and harmonies is another of the vital elements that made Billy & co.’s material different from the rest. They manage to incorporate class and mellowness among all that pure aggression and energy, providing musically varied songs that transcend parameters and restrictions other Bay Area acts were stuck on. These guys mixed the bestiality of early Death Angel with the progression of Forbidden successfully, as I mentioned setting a reasonable balance between their sentimental side and their raw attitude. Actually, they were one of the few exceptions to introduce explicit hard rock influences like Van Halen and Aerosmith themselves, combining the American attitude with reminiscence of Europeans like Scorpions or Satan in their titles without denying the essence of thrash too much, being tolerant with other eclectic influences as well.
The New Order ain’t as challenging and brilliant as its predecessor. Testament offer more of the same, getting stagnant and uninventive while their peers were evolving considerably, so even though The Legacy was ahead of its time, it didn’t keep these guys from getting stuck anyway in the same schemes later, unable to make an album that would provide something bigger and more special in a time when there were so many serious rivals around reinventing the concept of the subgenre. The incorporation of so much acoustic intros was another mistake that interrupted the continuity of the record. Chuck’s voice doesn’t fit the melody and perspective of some tracks, neither did Zetro in that old Legacy demo but at least this stuff is immaculately played and produced. These guys could elude the clumsiness and technical limitations of other thrashers so in conclusion, this more average thrash with enjoyable moments and certain magic – yet not completely solid.
This album is a good sophomore release. It has a great track in Trial By Fire and some other very good ones. The problem is in the consistency, it's shot through with all the pointless noodling. This is somewhat saved by the very nice production, but then you get into Testament's usual weak points.
Trial By Fire is a great song. I would say that this is the second best that they've ever done. It has a great chorus, and the whole song has a rather cool vibe. It reminds me of the scene from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome where some barker explains their system of justice about fighting in a cage. It's rather ominous and is probably the only song where whatever atmosphere they were going for is actually beneficial. The rest of the songs are mostly pretty good. Disciples of the Watch is legitimately aggressive, and almost all of this is pretty catchy.
The instrumentation is pretty good, as usual. For as nice as the production is, I still have trouble hearing the bass. It actually reminds me somewhat of Master of Puppets in that regard. He is seldom there, but he does show-up from time to time. Skolnick's soloing is as sterling as ever, and the production isn't holding him back this time. Chuck's vocals are improved if anything on this. It seems as though he's given more room to flex on this one. The riffing and drumming are as normal, seldom impressive. They are pretty tight with each other, so they have a heavy attack on the listener. I would liken the attack to what was heard the year before on Among the Living: very heavy and concentrated.
The problem sets in here with the random and pointless intros and instrumentals. I see no real purpose for why the opening track takes a minute and a half to shuffle through its mediocre acoustics. I also have two instrumentals to suffer through. Neither of these really advance anything. My first thought was that they ran out of ideas and decided to pad. A previous reviewer noted that it may have been an attempt at atmosphere, and I find myself in agreement with them. They took a shot at it, and they failed. A fifth or so of the album ends up being wasted in the process. It's a pity because the full songs are mostly good to great.
This is much easier to grade than the Legacy. This has some quality material, but there's also some bad ideas. Perhaps they thought this made sense in the lean on your star sense. In any case it didn't work out like they'd hope. I will say that this is still a good album, and a thrash fan would enjoy most of this. In general though, I would just recommend ripping the non-noodled songs.
I don't understand what the deal with all the hate on this album is on this site. Maybe I'm just naive, but this is the album that got me into thrash metal. It was the first album I had heard outside of the big 4 and it was at that moment that I knew I was missing out. I do agree with a lot of the complaints people seem to have about this album (too many clean intros, pointless songs, etc), but that doesn't make the rest of the album bad! In fact, I believe this is Testament's finest work and their last stand before divulging into mediocrity with their next album.
The biggest highlight of this album for me is Alex Skolnick's lead work. It is absolutely phenomenal and makes most everything he played on The Legacy look childish in comparison. The other guys are no slouches here either. I also have to say the production on this album is a vast improvement from the debut. You can actually hear everything pretty decently and the guitars sound real beefy and compliment the aggression of the music very well.
And how aggressive is the music here? According to some people its not at all and its a pussified version of thrash metal. I strongly disagree. If you don't lose your shit the first time you hear Into the Pit then there's something seriously wrong with you. The first half of the album is immense. Four killer tunes right out of the gate and a useless interlude. (Eerie Inhabitants, the title track, Trial by Fire, Into the Pit, and Hypnosis). Unfortunately the second half does fall off a bit, but not at first as it begins with Disciples of the Watch, a Testament classic and the best song on this album. The Preacher is a killer too. So far it seems like we have a pretty perfect album, but let's get to why this album got a 90 instead of a 100.
The last 3 songs are a mixed bag. First we have the Aerosmith cover Nobody's Fault which is actually very well done, but it doesn't really fit in with the album and breaks the flow a bit. Then there's A Day of Reckoning, which has some quality riffs, but doesn't quite get its point across and is pretty weak overall. Last we have the awesome instrumental Musical Death which is a definite highlight and a great way to close the album. As high of a note as it ends on, the 2 previous songs do take away from the overall quality of the album. Another problem is the overabundance of clean interludes and intros. Like I said before, Hypnosis is totally useless. I feel like the only reason it made it on here was to fill space. The fact that it leads directly into the clean intro of Disciples of the Watch (also fairly pointless) certainly doesn't help its case either.
Overall this is an excellent example of thrash metal done right and a great first choice away from the big 4. It has amazing guitar work and lots of catchy bits that will stick with you for days. So what if there's too many clean parts?
If this were a just world, or perhaps a 'juster' world, The New Order would have vaulted Testament into the ranks of thrash royalty, as it easily edged out a few of the formative 1988 works by higher profile acts like Anthrax (State of Euphoria) and Megadeth (So Far, So Good... So What!), who ending up making wider ripples in the pool. Of course, that's not the universe we actually live in; bands and albums even BETTER than this one sat in complete obscurity the same year, but the point remains that this was a damn fine sophomore which capitalized fully on the momentum mustered upon The Legacy, continuing to expand and define the band's sound to an eager audience with enough allowance left over after buying the latest Ozzy and Metallica tapes and tees.
Albeit mild, there is in fact some progression to The New Order. For one, the songs seem a little 'friendlier' than the debut. I'm not saying they were flat-out accessible and likely to gain the band much airplay, but the slightly cleaner mix to the rhythm guitars was evident, and the choruses were simply catchier in terms of their melodic content. Testament had embraced, rather than backed away from the fact that it had a new guitar hero in its ranks, and thus Skolnick's leads are more pronounced and fluid than on The Legacy, with a more consistent use of arpeggios and other melodies that showcased their confidence in his ability. Otherwise, I'm not sure they would have gotten the green light for not one, but two fully instrumental pieces, the spectral and atmospheric "Hypnosis" interlude and the gentler, neoclassical exercises of the 4 minute finale "Musical Death (A Dirge)". The inclusion of the Aerosmith cover ("Nobody's Fault") also made it seem as if the band were throwing a bone to the less aggressive-minded audience; it's a hard and fun take on the original with a nice bite to the guitars, but you could envision that it might make the MTV request shows more than, say, "Eerie Inhabitants". And they did, in fact, shoot a rather lame video for it with the band fucking around in between shots of them performing.
But the gist of the album is pure, unbridled excellence, with a number of songs just as memorable as anything off The Legacy. "Into the Pit" and "Disciples of the Watch" have long been set staples for good reason, as they're both blood stirring pieces, the former succeeded by its title alone to whip any mosh pit into a frenzy, and the latter possessive of one of their better singalong chorus progressions. A lot of the songs ("Eerie Inhabitants", "Disciples of the Watch", "Trial by Fire", etc) build great atmospheres through clean intros and supernatural leads before exploding into their surges of Metallica-fueled rage. The compositions continue to exude that same sense of foreboding as one found on the debut, even if the rhythm guitars are not quite so crushing. Like the cover warns, The New Order leaves me with the impression that I'm living in a fucked world with little hope for salvation, choked out by corruption, pollution, zealotry, globalization, and dogmatic obsession, and these subjects and more are tackled directly through the lyrics.
While it doesn't hit the same polished stride as its own successor, Practice What You Preach, The New Order certainly seems tidier than the first album. The rhythm guitars possess a similar, processed punch while chugging, but they're less muddled. The leads gleam far more, and the clean guitars are also better integrated, which is necessary, since there are more of them. In addition to Skolnick stepping up his game, you also get a larger amount of bass alongside the rhythm tracks, so Greg Christian stands out more. The same goes for Clemente, whose kick drum seems more distinct thanks to the more melodic nature of the writing. Chuck Billy does admittedly sound less raucous and frenzied than on the debut, but he compensates with a stronger range and a lot of tight and memorable lines. Rather than just Xerox riffs from the debut, they also seem to attempt a wider range of variation as they use to set up "The Preacher" or the exotic, far Eastern foundation to the melodies of opener "Eerie Inhabitants".
Though I still listen to The New Order frequently enough, there are a few minor flaws in that the production sounds dated so many years later (like The Legacy); the digitized, effect heavy sound they originally aimed for felt futuristic for its day, but not any more. Not one of Alex Perialas' best, though it was cool to see Raven's Rob 'Wacko' had a hand in this. Also, with the exception of the churning intro riff, I'm not a huge fan of the track "A Day of Reckoning", as the verse riffing seems redundant with ideas they had in other tunes. However, these are about the only limitations to my enjoyment of what is otherwise one of the band's best works. With the exception of the Aerosmith cover, the vision here is incredibly unified, in both vocal and instrumental tunes, and The New Order helped substantiate these Oakland raiders into a potential usurper for the frontrunners in the field. That might not have completely panned out for them in the end, but the fact is that Testament remains after all these years, with a deep well of inspiring material for fans to draw upon, and this sophomore was a willing, quality contributor to that legacy.
Being part of the second wave of thrash, Testament amazed everyone with “The Legacy”. They followed it up with “The New Order”. This album is kind of like the first album just with more mid paced parts thrown in there.
This album has some very good things going for it and also a lot of negative things. I’ll start with the positives. The thrash is still very much in here. “Into the Pit” is a pure thrasher from start to finish. The title track is very fast along with “The Preacher” and “Disciples of the Watch”. Another positive is the guitar work. The riffs are heavy and the guitar solos are amazing. And last but not least, Chuck Billy’s awesome highs are still in full force here. “The Preacher” has some epic highs as well as the title track.
Ok, so those are all the positives, now here come the negatives. The bass playing is average; it doesn’t ever do anything to wow me. The bass isn’t silent either, so that is kind of a positive and negative. The production is very flat. The guitars sound pretty good, but everything else just sounds jumbled and kind of hard to follow at some times. The drums are beyond flat and the bass; yea I’ve already talked about that. Now for the most annoying part about this album, the goddamn intros….my god! How many pointless long ass intros do you have to put into one fucking album?! “Eerie Inhabitants” , “Trial by Fire”, “Hypnosis”, and “Disciples of the Watch” all have some pointless intro that takes forever to end and just holds up the song and adds useless time to the album. “Musical Death” gets away with it because I feel like the intro actually contributes something to the song.
So if you like thrash, Testament, or long pointless intros, you will love this album! Especially for the damn intros. Long intros aside, this is a solid Testament album and their third best I would say. Close third behind “Souls of Black”. The negative part may seem longer, but the stuff that is good on this album is really good.
Best tracks – “Into the Pit”, “The Preacher” and “Trial by Fire”
There’s this cliché phrase used to describe the underappreciated innovators of a given craft, going something along the lines of “He was/They were before their time”. Testament, however, is probably the mirror opposite of this eventuality. While they were around during the early days of the thrash scene in the San Francisco Bay Area going back to 1983 under the moniker “Legacy”, they weren’t really of any consequence in the broader world of metal until the 1987 release of “The Legacy”, and by that time most of the tricks they had at their disposal had been explored by Metallica, Exodus and Slayer to the point of being stylized. It was an album that was more suited to 1985, and could be considered a release of that year given that some of the material existed in demo form that far back.
When accounting for all of this, the logical step for any band finding themselves sounding like a composite of several other existing bands, is to find a different niche for their sophomore venture. “The New Order” is probably among the more extreme versions of a niche/gimmick oriented album, trying very hard to make itself distinct from all the other competing acts, yet also making sure not to lose track of where this style comes from. The overall drive of the album is still very much in the Metallica meets Exodus strain, particularly with regard to Chuck Billy’s raspy growl, but it is steeped in so much atmospheric intro and ballad-based material that it comes off as a little confused. It’s definitely catchy and easy to grab onto when it gets going, but almost half of the album is spent trying to play up the creepy factor, to a point that even King Diamond might be taken aback.
The central figure in this rather odd exercise in riff happy thrash meets ballads from the haunted graveyard is Alex Skolnick. While most of the other figures in this fold have their time in the beams of the moon during the heavier sections, the spectral presence of the lead guitar’s voice endures throughout most of the twists and turns of this bizarre rollercoaster ride. It’s infectiously melodic, in direct contradiction to the madness of Kerry King, yet also avoids the formulaic repetition of Kirk Hammett and Dan Spitz. While the zenith of the technical aspects of this album occur on a brief, creepy atmospheric instrumental in “Hypnosis”, every lead break and shred section grabs the ears like a mechanized gauntlet out of “Army Of Darkness” and forces the obedient worship of a committed cultist.
But while this album is lopsided pretty heavily towards guitar solos and atmosphere, it is still mostly a thrash album with a consistent collective effort and some solid songwriting. The riff set is pretty tried and true, wandering through a series of crunchy bottom end chugs meshed with the occasional melodic interlude. Nothing on here is all that far removed from what was heard on “Master Of Puppets” or “Breaking The Silence”, but the attention to brevity is a welcome change of pace. “Eerie Inhabitants”, “Trial By Fire” and “Disciples Of The Water” really bring home the poundage once getting past the extended intro material. Even the shorter live staple “Into The Pit” and Chuck’s venture at emulating Rob Halford “The Preacher” lay down the heavy law in stellar fashion. The songs do run together a bit somewhat, but the overall energy at play is not really diminished by anything other than the constant slowdown of the atmospheric ballad interludes.
This is generally regarded as an obligatory purchase for anyone who is looking to explore thrash beyond the so-called Big 4, but this is among the weaker of Testament’s 80s offerings (counting “Souls Of Black”). It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between “The New Order” and any other thrash album ever put together, but it comes across as overly soft and frivolously obsessed with depth, if that makes any sense. It is excellent for an occasional spin, but the back and forth gimmickry between the ballad sections and the intense thrashing wears think pretty quickly and begs for a break after about the 4th or 5th time through.
Testament's first effort was almost a classic, with only the bad production getting in their way. They've managed to get past those problems on this record. A crisp, clean production with a better sound overall and better presentation. Looking back at the history of this band, 'The New Order' is the album which got them some mainstream attention and good reviews for the first time. They certainly were a force by this point, with many seeing them as the successors/competitors to Metallica.
Alex Skolnick is an integral part of the unit, the rest of the band realize this and give him freedom to shred. His classically inspired soloing are most original and help them distinguish from other bands like Exodus and Metallica. The riffs are aggressive tinted and catchy and generally great, but the only problem seems to be that too many riffs are similar. The album starts to dull down by the end, with the last few tracks being uninspiring 'rehashes' of previous songs. The pacing doesn't help much either. Every one of these tracks are similarly paced, with all tracks being 3-5 minutes in length. Not much in terms of variety.
Everything else is generally good. The drumming is competent but is nothing to write home about, they seem to sound a bit too overpowered in the mix, at times, dominating the riffs and vocals in the background. Chuck Billy does his best James Hetfield imitation at times but has a much higher range and more skilled overall. His vocals on "Nobody's fault" is a testament to this. A great, fun cover of an Aerosmith song. "Hypnosis" is a little interlude to one of the better songs on this album. 2 minutes of shredding and wanking on guitar by Skolnick as he shows off the virtuoso in him. He isn't a thrash guitarist at heart, but more of a classical type. He's pretty good at it, and I wouldn't have been surprised if he got bored of thrash metal and ended up as a solo shredder like Marty Friedman.
Chuck's rapid fire vocals on "Alone in the dark" are back again on "The Preacher", The lyrics are catchy but not too well written here. In general, the lyrics were better on the first album than on this one. It's inconsistent and flawed at times. The riffs sound 'massive' and easy to follow, which helps make this record user friendly. There are lot of stuff here which are undeniably influenced by Metallica's 'Ride The Lightning' and 'Master of Puppets'. The same 'direct' approach taken on those records, but unlike either of them, there are meaningless repetitions of the same riffs on some of the songs here. But when they do it right, they sound really as good as their more popular cousins. "Eerie Inhabitants", "Into the pit" and "Trial by fire" have some really vicious, venomous, crunchy riffs that are sure to make any thrash metal fan happy. Somewhere in the middle of this album, we're treated to "Disciples of the Watch", A ripping 5 minute piece of uncompromising 'Bay Area Thrash'.
I feel that the record's shortcoming is in it's own strengths, just too much focus on writing aggressive, catchy mid paced riffs when they could've incorporated more variety and slower/faster sections into their songs. The drumming feels dull at times, an impressive drum fill here and there would've gone a long way into making this a direct competitor to 'Ride The Lightning' but falls well short of that masterpiece. And to end it all, they decide to impress the classical crowd with an instrumental at the end with more shredding from the guitarist, but it feels like it's been put in there just for the heck of it. It's really lame compared to monstrosities like "The call of ktulu", which had both convincing intensity and melody in equal measure. Not too shabby by any means, recommended to fans of American thrash metal.
Testament is among the five gods of thrash, and in truth is the only band I agree should be in there. This is their second full length that is a good listen, but can be ignored if you are not a die hard fan of thrash. Thrash has more to offer, and Testament does not amount to the accomplishments of other bands, but has its good times and yet low times. This album however deserves much credit for its time.
The first four tracks are the best on the album, but this is one of those albums that kind of starts to suck after it has made its opening statements. After Into the Pit, which might I add is actually a very good song, the album stops and gets boring and generic, but closes with a godly awesome instrumental. Every riff on the album seems to be the same, plus it can not really be heard over the bad recording. The drums don’t do much except for play fast beats, and there are no fills, just symbol crashes when it changes beats, In fact the drums really don’t react with the music. The lyrics are incredibly cheesy but they sound pretty good with a nice echo. Chuck Billy made his last stand with this album but after it he just got annoying. Once again an album has been produced that has no bass at all, so we can’t really mention that.
For the most part these songs are headbang/mosh worthy, and I can see that the songs would sound better live; they really have that chaotic fast drive to it. However when listening to the recorded music it doesn’t do much for you. You can tap your foot to it at some parts though, but that’s just your body reacting to the generic beats being played.
Into the Pit really makes up for the album, as it is one of the best thrash songs I’ve ever heard, and makes up for the other crap in it. It is fast, upbeat, and uplifting. However the song for the most part is misinterpreted, as everyone seems to think it is about moshing. But the song is about genocide, weird enough. But the riffs are really cool and it is a fun song to listen to.
The solos on this album really make it good. Alex Skolnick, despite his crappy band history, has amazing talent. His solos sound like nobody else’s, and you know it’s him playing when you hear it. He is really good at building up a statement or mood then just finishing with a bang at light speed. His ideas are beautiful and make incredible statements with his guitar.
You can find some good moments in this album, but personally I just think you should download specific songs that are good and the rest can be ignored. I recommend you at least check out Into the Pit, Eerie Inhabitants, Trial by Fire, and Musical Death.
“The Legacy” was archived as one of the best debuts ever in thrash metal and 1988 was the year for Testament to release another excellent album. The band was having a magic period and they were strong as few others in this genre, but on the other hand, it was so difficult to present us another good album. The big Chuck and company, this time, decided to point more on the Skolnick’s guitars virtuosos on this album and the result was brilliant.
“The New Order” shows us a band that, even not losing the classic thrash metal impact, fills the songs with plenty of melodies and solos. The violence here is generally, anyway, less impulsive and more structure without losing in potential. The band is compact and strong, as the skills of every single member. Their style of doing thrash is unmistakable and this is surely their last excellent album before going down at the beginning of the 90s.
“Eerie Inhabitants” already shows us the lead guitars virtuosos, followed by few arpeggios and the sudden heavy start. The production is extremely metallic and clean, also compared to the debut. The drums are truly blasting and pounding, especially on the snare drum. The riffs are truly violent and technical at the same time, but always catchy thanks to good ideas and some melodic breaks to introduce the always excellent solos.
What I like a lot here are the Chuck’s vocals: they are violent and powerful in the right way, without being growlish like nowadays. Here, he is able to change different kinds of tonalities from the cleanest to the heaviest ones. The title track is simply great with that apocalyptic touch united to melodies. The violent “Trial By Fire” is introduced by a long, catchy solo while the heavy start features more groove tempos and clean bass breaks. The rest is stronger and heavier while it’s going on; preparing us for the mosh tempos of “Into The Pit”.
The guitars riffs are locked up, fast, brutal and always extremely technical. Here the drums are something hammering and devastating like in few thrash metal albums we can find and I don’t care if Louie Clemente points on the sheer impact instead of the technique, he’s always great. “Hypnosis” is just a guitar solo break before the sad melodies and the following thrash assault of “Disciple Of the Watch”. This is another highlight here and it’s simply great thrash.
Testament, being one of those Bay Area thrash bands that pointed on the melody, here we can find always great, catchy riffs and refrain that remain stuck in your head even during a violent song as “The Preacher”, that, anyway, never dislikes melodic solos and more mature tempos. The guitars sometimes have that groove that would have exploded in the following “Practice What You Preach” but here are far more violent and not boring at all.
“Musical Death (A Dirge)” is the last example of the new Testament’s direction with this album: melody with violence. An album that stays exactly in the middle between the violence of the debut and the mid paced oriented following album. The last great album to remember by Testament ‘till “The Gathering” in my humble opinion.
TESTAMENT - THE NEW ORDER
Fresh off their solid debut with "The Legacy", which acheived great underground success and put them on the cusp of a kind of commercial success, Testament followed it up with "The New Order" which contained a more accessible slowed/watered down sound. Despite this the music is still very thrashy, its just not very ground breaking in any of the speed or originality departments. The riffs have become recycled, dryer, and fewer then before. Alot of what worked for testament in the vocals and song writing department is gone with "Hard Rock sing along" choruses even in a song or two. Its a shame alot of these songs are full of such boring noodling parts, because some of the songs here are better in alot of ways then "The Legacy", although not nearly often enough to save this album.
Well onto the songs again. "Eerie Inhabitants" is boring as fuck thanks to the bands need to put a one minute acoustic part at the beginning. I hoped for something fast paced after that, but got a real midpaced song gone wrong. Seemingly Testament had taken to the idea of hiding behind acoustic intros. "The New Order" isn't half bad, and even has a good riff. Unfortunately the band didn't turn this song into much more then a minor highlight. "Trial By Fire" is probably the dumbest song here, complete with riffless ideas and hard rock singalong choruses. The solo is cool, but it just leads to the more serious question of "why is Alex Skolnick here?" Its a shame he couldn't find a decent riff writing rhythm player to tag onto, he would have been amazing. Its mediocre songs like this that killed Testament in the end.
"Into the Pit" is a thrash monster in every sense of the word. Lacks great riffs, but has a good enough riff set to work. Easily one of Testaments better songs on the album, and a very catchy chorus. Fans of metalcore/groove band Lamb of God will recognize the main riff from their song "Laid to Rest" which LOG stole. Hell I can't even count on two hands how many times LOG has ripped off Testament in one way or another. "Hypnosis" is some random guitar jerking off for about 2 minutes, as the band couldn't be bothered to use some of Skolnick's good concepts here. "Disciples of the Watch" is one of the faster/heavier songs on the album. A good idea the band didn't ruin with mid paced wankery. "The Preacher" is an ok song, but really isn't distinctive. Lots of basic riffing, nothing stunning, the basic Testament riff is used in abundance. Pretty mediocre in every sense of the word. "Nobodys Fault" is the Aerosmith Cover here, and is actually not a bad cover. One must wonder why its here, and note that it shows how accessible they were aiming for. However it has enough good ideas go be called solid. "A Day of Reckoning" is a medicore mid-slow paced thrasher built on two riffs or so. Boring, repetitive, and mediocre are the key words for this song. "Musical Death(A Dirge) is more guitar wanking, not much point at all to this one.
The album fails in that only 2-3 Songs aren't mediocre-barely average. Most of the riffs are unmemorable, with maybe 4-8 truly good memorable riffs contained on the entire album. Most songs are supported by 1-2 riffs the band had and pasted together on these shaky foundations Sometimes this works, but only in small doses. Theirs alot of generic beyond belief Testament riffage here (that basic kind of chugging) which was already overused on "The Legacy" and turns this album into a snore fest. All the interludes and guitar fucking around songs are showing how desperate the band was to fill and album with riffed songs.
The main problem Testament suffers from on this album is that they're a band that becomes boring as fuck if they try too many midpaced numbers at once. Overall some of the bands last good ideas are contained on this album and its not the worst choice, just not particularly interesting, moving and WAY too plodding/boring at its worst. The band was running out of decent riff ideas, and was getting more commercial by the minute. While this isn't a terrible album, its pretty mediocre, even for a bay area album.
Overall: Get this album if your a Testament fan, or are just needing an introduction via accessible thrash. Otherwise avoid this like the flu unless you have a thing for midpaced plodding, but make sure to download Into the Pit.
Final Grade: 55/100
Testament's second album is the point when 'Testament' begin to shape a form, a powerful form. Their debut was pretty dull in my opinion, they executed mostly average, tends to bad riffing (though they had some awesome moments here and there) and they didn't had any catchiness or anything creative, they still didn't knew how to thrash. Now, this album really surprised me as it doesn't reminds the amateurish feeling of the first album even a bit, it's actually a quality thrash here, much more polished riffing and unique leading guitar and the vocals flowing flawlessly, plus I digged this album A LOT so it's must be a worthy one.
'Eerie Inhabitants' opens this album with silents storms and then a clean guitar comes in with a pretty interesting section leading to a nice shreeding lead guitar. Then the dynamics change instantaneously with very kickass riffing and a nice fill of the leading guitar. The vocals comes soon and makes this song a real killer! Very wild and sweeping vocals work here, suddenly there is a tempo break. 'Alex Skolnick' putting here very emotional soloing and steps up this song a level up with it's outstanding vibe. Very intense opener, great riffing and vocals and quite decent drumming which makes the riffage flow even better.
Then we got the title track which is heavy as hell. Exploding lead guitar and well composed riffing builds this song until the first verse when 'Chuck Billy' takes control and increases the heaviness of this song quite much. The chorus is very catchy and the tough vocals fits perfectly to the mood. Quite catchy and heavy song at the same time, this is very headbangable also so prepare your neck!
I must mention the production which is utterly powerful. The guitars have a polish distrotion here, it's very clear and heavy at the same time and of course makes the riffing sounds ten times heavier then how it could be if they sticked with their former sound. Another good point for this album.
'Trial By Fire' is my personal favorite of this album. After the moderate intro with the decent shredding guitar and clean rhythm guitars the songs becomes a killing machine! The first verse is quite creative, each instrument throwing some notes in the background, the bass riffing intensely, the guitar diving in the air and all together it sounds quite badass. The chorus is extremely catchy and the last line is sang with very spooky heat..damn this is such a kickass song! Powerful main riff and very intense vocals here, you just can't stop to bang like a maniac! This song has a great mood of insanity and it will stick into your head for a long time.
The rest of this album is awesome as well. 'Into The Pit' is a short and straightforward load of aggresion, 'Disciples Of The Watch' has a bit eerie vibe in the beginning and it doesn't stops to kick asses, especially not with such a catchy chorus! Overall, I really liked this album, I think it's a bit underrated somehow. For me it's another classic from 1988, which was one of the best years in the thrash scene. I can't think off why the hell half of this album could be thrown away, this is a quality album all the way without any weak spots. Make youself a favor and don't miss this album, easily one of the most powerful and creative thrash albums from the 80's, and an album for the very long range. So prepare your ears and tell the world the new order's here!!
I will worship The Legacy till the end of my metal days and I knew it would almost be impossible for Testament to come up with a follow up that was equally good. Yet still, despite even expecting lesser quality, The New Order wasn’t satisfying enough.
The production had become a lot better. A bit too good and clear at times actually. This did do some damage to the intensity of their most ferocious songs (‘The Preacher’, ‘Into The Pit’). Fortunately those songs are simply great. Also Testament had written some material which combined mid pace pounding with their familiar up tempo thrashing that did well (‘Eerie Inhabitants’, ‘The New Order’). The song ‘Trial By Fire’ is catchy but still heavy and remains one of my favourite Testament songs to this day.
Personally I’ve never been enthusiastic about ‘Disciples Of The watch’. Yes it is fast at times but just doesn’t equal the earlier mentioned 5 great songs and didn’t even come close to the aggressiveness of The Legacy material. The Aerosmith cover ‘Nobody’s Fault’ is hideous. It does not suit the Testament sound nor does it fit this album. ‘A Day Of Reckoning’ is simply dull with bad vocal lines (the ‘Leave me alone! Don't take it away’ part can even be considered cheesy and reveals the style they would later use to fill up a large section of the ‘Souls Of Black’ album)
Biggest setback on the album – apart from a few dull and bad songs - was the cheesy lead show. With this I mean the clean instrumental parts with leads over them and not the regular leads in songs. There’s too much of them here. It totally ruins the pace, continuity and intensity of the album. It’s nice to have a few of those moments (the intro to ‘Trial By Fire’ for instance) but also including two fully instrumental songs like this is too much. A good example is the instrumental song ‘Hypnosis’ which is followed by the intro of ‘Disciples of the Watch’. The annoyance is unbearable.
But hey, The New Order contains five songs I can’t imagine not having in my collection. So therefore it remains a must have album for me. As a whole it just isn’t a good album.
Seems more people dislike Testament than I thought. Just as with The Legacy, I've found myself surprised at how this album is subsequently bashed, described as mediocre, ball-less, and a shameless attempt at imitating Metallica, among other things. Well dismiss its detractors, this album is rock fucking solid. No, it doesn't exactly break new ground, but it's a great sampling of Testament's old-school thrash material, before they got caught up in trends like everybody else. Yeah, there's too many interludes, but that will be addressed in due time.
Say what you will about the back half of this, the album starts off as perfectly as could be expected. Four face-melters open this album, "Eerie Inhabitants," "The New Order," "Trial by Fire," and "Into the Pit." This is Testament at their finest: powerful thrash with an ear for melodicism. And the band is in rare form. Alex Skolnick is even better than on the first album and not a single solo disappoints or fails to be technically impressive. Louie Clemente is even more frantic and energetic, Eric Peterson crafts some killer riffs, and Greg Christian provides the backbone, playing a much more significant role than on The Legacy. And Chuck Billy, of course, is Chuck Billy. He doesn't shriek quite as much as on their debut, but he hasn't yet adopted that very Hetfield-esque manner of shitty melodic singing. Here he still sounds badass. The first four songs showcase these aspects in everyone and are pretty damned catchy too. No problems thus far.
But then we get to track five and the complaints begin to manifest. This album has too many interlude/intro clean riffs with solos over them. It's almost as if the album was catered to Skolnick's love of playing melodic solos over clean passages: two tracks are complete instrumentals in that vein ("Hypnosis," "Musical Death") while three others have extended intros. Now it was all right for the first track, that arpeggio sequence before "Eerie Inhabitants" casts a killer mood, but after awhile, it becomes contrived. Soloing over clean riffs just isn't cool anymore when you do it for half the tracks on your album. The worst example is before "Disciples of the Watch." It's easily one of the best songs on here, as it's fast, catchy, heavy as fuck, and supported by the utmost in riffage, but it starts with a clean intro fade in immediately after the fade out of the clean instrumental, "Hypnosis." Whose idea was that? That kills the album flow and hampers the song a bit. I completely disagree with the tracklist here, but others have been less forgiving.
As for the rest of the songs? Nothing spectacular, but still quite listenable. "Nobody's Fault" is probably the best of the rest. I'm not familiar with the original song (it's Aerosmith), but this version is pretty sweet.
Altogether it's far from terrible. Average for the jaded, perhaps, but killer for the uninitiated. Half the tracks are absolute classics and Skolnick's soloing is amazing beyond words, and quite frankly, that's good enough for me. And it certainly beats some of what would follow it....
A year after their good but not great debut 'The Legacy' Testament released their second album. 'The New Order' isn't as good as what came before it and is probably worse in every way than it, but it still remains an alright thrash album that is good to listen to every now and then.
The biggest downfall of 'The New Order' is that it has the same problem as 'The Legacy', that being not enough riffs to fill up all the songs. Whilst on 'The Legacy' they milked all they could out of the riffs on offer and integrated longish solos to make up for the lack of them, here they fill the gaps with acoustic interludes and intros. There is an intro to half the songs on here, and most have an interlude halfway through. Had they put all of this into a single instrumental of about three or so minutes it wouldn't be so bad, but when the listener finds his/herself fast forwarding through large quantities of various songs it is not a good thing. The interludes sound out of place and are generally pointless, and disrupt the flow of the songs which is a critical element of any respectable thrash song, while the intros are unnecessary and too long for their own good. Skolnick was, and still is an awesome guitar player, but that doesn't justify the fact that a considerable percentage of the album is acoustic.
When there are some actual riffs on display, it's nothing special anyway. As on the first record, there are some good ones scattered here and there but for the most part this is really generic stuff for the year it was released. And the fact that a lot of them are dragged out too long for their own good and, like the debut, sound similar to each other, you don't really get a good thrash record. There are rarely more than two or three riffs per song, and as Thrash Metal requires a lot of quality riffs to succeed, this also brings it down. The production is basically the same as the debut except a little louder and cleaner. The guitar tone remains weak and lifeless, and still has that annoying 'fluffy' sound which makes the riffing sound boring.
Not all is lost however. Chuck Billy's vocals remain quite good, and while not having the same amount of aggression that he held on 'The Legacy' he still is an above average vocalist. The solos are still awesome and brilliantly melodic, even coming close to some of Priest's stuff in terms of quality. There are a few standout songs as well. 'Eerie Inhabitants', despite having the one minute plus intro and interlude halfway through has some pretty decent riffing in it. 'Disciples of the Watch' also has a pointless long intro but when the riffs kick in it gets the head banging, while 'Into the Pit' is a catchy, fast song with a great gang chorus.
'The New Order' is pretty much generic, average thrash. There really isn't much that makes it stand out from the competition apart from some great soloing and above average vocals, and while it isn't bad by any stretch the feeling that you've heard all this before and better stays with you throughout. If you do not already have this record and are thinking of purchasing it, I recommend getting it cheap and when playing it keeping your finger on the fast forward button, as with so many pointless interludes and intros you'll need it.
[new review, first one written on April 4th, 2004]
I believe I went a little too nuts over this album when I first got it...so here's a new review of it. Maybe I should've just deleted the old one since there are already 11 others for it, but nah, let's be a bit more productive here. No, I haven't fully converted into UltraBorism yet, I still think there are qualities to it that should warrant this as a safe purchase for the general thrash metal fan, but it's not without its flaws. Some really notable, glaring flaws.
Like the previous 'The Legacy', this is stylistically speaking a pretty good representative of the late 80's bay area sound - but just like that album, it does very little in the way of genre progression and/or innovation. Even less than 'The Legacy', I have to add. Riffs are heavily derived from 'Lightning'/'Puppets'-era Metallica and Exodus and worse yet, there aren't that overwhelmingly many of them either. At least when I am seeking out thrash, I expect riffs, many fucking riffs, to senselessly pummel me, one after one and continue doing so even when I'm down and out - but alas, Death Angel or Vio-lence this is just not. Most songs on here are built around maybe two or (at most) three discernable, memorable riffs and the rest is just kinda random...be it fast chugging or simple melodic fills to give way to vocals or lead guitar instead. This is arguably the album's true weakness, and what makes it inferior to the debut.
The other problem is the seemingly endless amount of light acoustic parts - they are piss-poor as hell and very much corrupt the flow of the album. Sometimes I think this album is trying to be 'Master of Puppets', but at this point in their career, Testament don't have enough skill to either write GOOD acoustic parts or skillfully intermix them within the album to give it "epic" strengths to go with all the monotone thrashing. For example, "Eerie Inhabitants" has not only the intro, but at 2.50 where you'd normally expect to have a slower, bludgeoning section, you instead get ANOTHER little calm part - it's not evil/eerie, it's not mystical, it doesn't make sense being there in the first place - it's just fucking disappointing; irritating. At least you have Alex Skolnick's pompously glorious lead work on top of it (and on most other non-thrashing sections on this album too), but even he does not in my opinion deliver here quite the way he did on the previous album. At times his leads tend to get a bit on the boring side, in the Yngwie "neo-classical" sense (but there is always the "Disciples" solo...HOLY FUCK!!). "Trial by Fire" has another boring nearly one minute long intro; "Hypnosis" is an agonizing TWO minutes of pure acoustic boredom, directly followed by YET another calm section that is the intro of "Disciples of the Watch". This is unbearable; very, very poor construction here. As if that wasn't bad enough, the album ends with a whimper in a beyond boring four, FOUR fucking minute-long outro track. Like any other intro section/interlude on here, but made even more unnecessarily long. Argh. "Musical Death", indeed.
Whoa, but I am still giving this 82%? How the hell am I going to justify that now?! Then I'd have to go back and see what exactly it was that I saw in this album back in the day...that would be 2½ years ago now. Well, as is the answer with so many other thrash albums - it's the riffage. When this album actually DOES deliver the riffs, it delivers them hard, precisely, correctly, smoothly, passionately and with maximum effective-ness - simply put, magic happens. The sound is totally indistinct and the guitar tone is really your typical dime-in-a-dozen late 80's thrash one - but the band knows how to work with limited material (Eric Peterson's rock-solid rhythm guitar deserves mention) and in the end turn out something really damn enjoyable and, most of all, HEADBANGABLE. The execution is rather simple (drumming in particular), but that allows for increased accessibility - perfect for a complete thrash newbie like me said 2½ years ago, knowing nothing of thrash outside the big four. The title track, "Trial By Fire" and "Disciples of the Watch" - catchy, fast, effective thrash metal bangers that will have anyone bob their head in no time, since the riffs are delivered on a silver plate as opposed to the Death Angel school of cramming them down your throat (thanks Boris;)), risking to go by unnoticed for some, like the inexperienced. But with repeated listens, the thrashier and more aggressive numbers "Eerie Inhabitants", "Into the Pit" and "The Preacher" will appeal to anyone as well if one can enjoy the catchier songs on here in the first place.
Again; accessibility is the key here. If you're already into just about any other popular thrash metal band on the planet outside of the big four, then there is very little for you here. But if you're struggling with albums such as 'Darkness Descends', 'Bonded By Blood' and 'Pleasure to Kill' and find nothing but pure noise in them - take heed of this album. Just don't expect it to own you as much once you've moved onto greater things. Also, the song "A Day of Reckoning" is just unforgivably boring, beyond redemption.
Testament's second full length release "The New Order" brought to the table more mature tracks, still injected with a lethal dose of Thrash ofcourse, and filled with crazier guitar solos. Alex simply puts to shame virtually every other guitarist on the planet, with riffs that rip your skull off, and tasty fucking solos that cannot be decribed in mere words. The drumming by Louie Clemente, isn't very ear-grabbing to say the least but atleast it fits with the music nicely. Greg Christians bass playing is very fucking dynamic, and I protest that he is one of the most underated bassists in metal. Listen to Disciples of The Watch and you wouldn't dare tell me that you can't thrash your fucking neck off to that. Chuck Billy does a pretty good job on vocals this time around, and actually sings quite great as a thrash singer. The First Strike Still Deadly (2001) album which Testament redoes shows 5 tracks off this one. First Strike sounds thicker with some amazing production although the solos aren't quite as what were on here, and Billy sings in his lower pitched voice more. This is easily one of metals finest gems in the 80's thrash movement, along with Anthrax's "Among the Living", and Racer X's Second Heat for a shredding good time! The only real shabby things about this album are the production, there are a couple of suegeway tracks that seem like they shouldn't be there, and Louis uninspired drumming. Other than that this album can do no wrong, jesus christ I mean "Into the Pit" and "The Preacher", two of Testaments best songs, are on here. Although the production is a tad disappointing for this day in age, think about what it would have sounded like back then! In 88!!!. This album quite obviously inspired many guitarists, although most guitarists could never come close to touching Skolnick's greatness.
Standout Tracks: Eerie Inhabitants, Eerie Inhabitants, Trial By Fire, Into The Pit, Disciples of The Watch, The Preacher
Testament was often considered one of the second tier of thrash bands, behind the big four of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. In the shadow of the big four, the likes of Testament, Exodus, Forbidden, and Overkill struggled to gain the recognition of their more famous peers. But it never came. For the likes of Exodus, it was a travesty. For Testament, it was never going to happen– they simply weren't good enough.
Before all the old school thrash fans out there call for my head on a spike so crows can pick my dead staring eyes from their sockets, let me explain. Testament was and is a good band, but never reached beyond that level in the 1980s. The New Order is a good example of why. On first listen, it has all the ingredients of a good thrash album, but a few hours later, you're struggling to remember any of it. Put simply, Testament as a whole were poor songwriters back in the 1980s. The riffing is solid, but unimpressive. Alex Skolnick's leads are adequate, but not dazzling. Chuck Billy's vocals are flat, and poorly executed in places. The song lyrics are standard, middle–of–the–road thrash fare. All seems "good", but nothing is "great", so promotion to the major leagues never came.
Testament were often unfairly labelled Metallica clones. Unfortunately, many media at the time had no idea about thrash metal beyond Metallica or Slayer, so bands were generally compared to one or the other of them. Testament had their own sound. Listen to "Disciples Of The Watch", the best song on the album. The bass was audible. The rhythm and lead guitars were quite different to Metallica's sound. And Louis Clemente ran rings around Lars Ulrich when it came to drum technique and skill. Unfortunately, it just did not seem to gel on the rest of the album. It is like tomato sauce, ice cream and beer– all fine on their own, but mixed together? Not appetising at all.
This album is probably of interest as a history piece today, but you would not use it to show someone how good thrash was back in the 80s. It is simply too mediocre for that.
Okay... maybe not the incredibly brutal sound of Low and The Gathering, but this album is still solid thrash metal. And The New Order is definitely not their best as far as I'm concerned. I prefer James Murphy's lead guitar over Alex Skolnick's, not because of ability, but rather style. Alex Skolnick doesn't have that low-E-based sound, but he makes good use of other skills on The New Order. But I'm just saying that the band's full potential wouldn't be realized until the Low album, as I just want to get that out of the way first.
Well... on to the music. The production, for the most part, is very good, and does not sound muddy at all. The guitars and drums sound pretty clear for the most part, as do the vocals. "Eerie Inhabitants" is the first track, which begins with some razor-sharp lead guitar playing, before speeding up after the intro and inducing some good headbanging. Chuck Billy on this song (and the rest of the album) sings in a voice that is deep, but is not even close to "the growl" he would experiment with later in his career. The title track is the next song, and begins with some solid lead playing that sounds a little like Marty Friedman's lead guitar work with Megadeth. Then it works into a rhythm that is fairly standard for full-crowd moshing, but to be honest with you, this song sounds like second-rate Anthrax or Years Of Decay-era Overkill. "Trial By Fire" is the next song, and it is the album's highlight. There is a good head-moving rhythm established through the length of the song, and a very nice riff at about the 1:14 mark that leads into a nice bass run and predatory Chuck Billy vocals. The chorus features some excellent riffing from Eric Peterson, and the song also benefitted from a cool-looking video. "Into The Pit" is a song about moshpits (pun intended), which starts with a nice strut created by the rhythm guitar, and then the rhythm of the rhythm section and the guitars make this song standard pit fare for the rest of the way through.
"Hypnosis" is an instrumental lead guitar intro into "Disciples Of The Watch". Once again, this song is only average in my opinion, and once again sounds a little too heavy on the Among The Living-era Anthrax influence. Not a bad song, but not a great one either. But it is one of the catchiest tunes here. "The Preacher" has a nice groove in the verses, plus we get some screams from Chuck Billy. Also, there is a nice guitar solo from Alex Skolnick from 1:53 to about the 2:49 mark. Gawd, I wish Kirk Hammett would still play solos like that. "Nobody's Fault" is a nicely done cover of the classic Aerosmith song, with a very nice strut in the verses and some nice high-hat drum work throughout. Another highlight on the album. "A Day Of Reckoning" has more head-moving grooves, and some nice leadwork as well. "Musical Death (A Dirge)" closes the album as an instrumental, but is not as good of an instrumental as "Hypnosis". It does close out the album on a fairly upbeat note, though.
If you don't have any Testament in your collection, this may be a good place to start, if you also like great lead guitar work. However, if you like your thrash no-nonsence, no-holds-barred-style, you're better off starting your collection with something like Low or The Gathering.
Regarded as a classic by a lot of people except Boris, and perhaps a few others (including me), The New Order is one of the better pre-Low Testament releases, but then again I’ve never been a huge fan of old Testament.
Despite the aforementioned popular opinion I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is classic, the first two tracks, despite having some decent moments, seem to plod along just a little too much and don’t really grab your attention; like I said, there are good moments in both songs, but not exactly what I would call classic material. Things eventually pick up for Testament, as the songs become more interesting further into the disc, my favorites being “Disciples Of The Watch” and “The Preacher”. Everything is relatively rudimentary on The New Order, the drumming, despite having decent fills, is pretty simple (where is the thundering double bass?) and the riffs could certainly be better in some cases. It’s weird, some riffs are really cool, and others just sound like bad rip-offs of Artillery. Of course, the two consistent features are Chuck Billy’s strong vocal performance and the lead work. The band has also done a good job in the lyric department, as the lyrical content tends to be more thought-provoking than most.
This isn’t a bad release by any stretch of the imagination; there are some good songs on here, however, I do think it is a bit over-rated as there just aren’t enough quality features to keep me coming back. I enjoyed it while I listened to it, but aside from certain songs, the whole CD probably won’t get much play in the near future; and this is somewhat helped by the poor production, it makes the band (and not rightfully so) sound like they’re playing without much feeling… something which is not good for Thrash. In the end though only the most finicky Thrash fan will probably not get some enjoyment out of this, and it is still better than Practice What You Preach and is a good starting point for newcomers to the band.
Song Highlights: Trail By Fire, Disciples Of The Watch, The Preacher, A Day Of Reckoning
The official length of this album is 39:19, but really about half of it is complete noodling around in the way of atmosphere. Which is too bad, since overall, some of the songs here are better than what appeared on "The Legacy". It's just the incessant fast-forward jockeying that totally relegates this album into mediocrity.
We start with "Eerie Inhabitants". Yes, it's got an intro... the thing is, you're going to have to grit your teeth and bear with this one, because it's part of the same track as the actual song. Wait two minutes, and then the riffs start up. This here is some pretty decent thrash, but it's all been done before. Very formulaic, and it kinda resembles that Talking Heads song that goes "We've got computers, we're tapping phonelines, we know that that's not allowed". (I forget the song title, something like "Life During War" or something.)
Then the title track, "The New Order" - not quite as strong, but really not all that bad. Just a bit generic - this is where the album starts to reek of "I've heard this before", whether it be Metallica or Exodus or even Artillery.
"A Trial By Fire" has the dumbest verses, they go through the motions without any energy - the chorus is also pretty cheesy, except the last line. That leads into a cool guitar solo at one point - again, what is Skol doing in this band?? He could play rings around anyone else, but the thing is, no one really knew how to write totally kickass riffs, and that was the real problem with Testament (still is, really). Then, "Into the Pit" - this is apparently their concert staple. Another kinda average thrash song. The riffs under the verses really aren't that distinguishable from, say, those of "The New Order".
Then we get into "Hypnosis" which is some fucking around on guitar for a few minutes. Sucky. Then, the next song, is more fucking around. But don't hit skip, because this will, at some point in time, lead into the best song on here, "Disciples of the Watch". This has some Slayer-esque riffs to be found, and in general is the fastest and heaviest song here. The intro of course makes no sense.
"The Preacher" is next. Other than being a complete ripoff of Exodus's "Faster than You'll Ever Live to Be", this is an okay song... there are lots of machine-gun vocals, and the melody is EXACTLY the same as the Zetrodus work mentioned above. Oh and the riffs aren't nearly as tight. P is no H team.
Next is "Nobody's Fault", which is an Aerosmith cover. This has some nice, different-sounding ideas thrown in, and it may be argued that this is the best song on the album, simply because it is refreshingly different. "Sorry, I'm so sorry..." somethingsomething "andnowitsjustalittletoolate!!!" This is a really nicely done chorus, it gets faster and faster until it explodes.
Then, "A Day of Reckoning" - another mediocre thrash song, supported barely by about two riffs. There really aren't all that many different, interesting, memorable riffs on this album. Maybe eight. Compare with Dark Angel's 246. Yeah, you're fucked. The last song is more guitar fucking around. I really don't see the point, all those interludes are really absurdly boring beyond all hope. What they really do is turn a marginal thrash album into something truly disastrous.