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If nothing else can forecast the huge resurgence that thrash metal has made in recent times, the reformation and near full recovery of the Bay Area beast that is Testament can easily point the way. After a fairly long succession of failures that basically went along a similar line to the groove metal infused semi-thrash that overtook Slayer, the re-entry of Alex Skolnick to the fold has brought about a new era for the band. Granted, this new era is a bit different than the classical Metallica-like thrashing that typified “The Legacy”, or the oddball progressive tendencies of “The New Order”, and seems to be a bit informed by Chris Petersen’s own stint in the extreme metal scene with Dragonlord, as well as a helping of thrash/melodeath influences from the likes of The Crown.
For the most part, “True American Hate” is an exercise in towing the traditional line of catchy, symmetrically structured songwriting that typified the more melodic strain of thrash metal common to the early Bay Area adherents. The riff work is pretty standard and shows a strong helping of “Master Of Puppets” influences, the lead guitar passages are very idiomatic and present easily digestible yet still impressive feats of technical mastery. Where it diverges from the orthodoxy of the 80s is the extremely modernized production, which is quite comparable to the recent output of Death Angel and Heathen. Furthermore, Chuck Billy’s vocal character has much more of a grunt quality to it, falling somewhere between a Chuck Schuldiner and a Tom Araya sound. There is also this brief blast beat line with wild tremolo riffing that comes and goes quite rapidly during the pre-chorus which shows a subtle remnant of what Chris Petersen was doing about 8 years prior when Testament was on the ropes.
One thing is certain, when something works, it’s best to stick to it, and that is what “True American Hate” does. There’s no end to the stupidity of American politics, and combined with the right approach to structuring together a song, there’s no limit to how many angst-driven thrash crazes it can inspire. Sorry to burst your bubble but, your vote doesn’t count, nothing that you argue will matter to those who hold power, so you might as well have an outlet for your righteous indignation, and Testament’s latest single and soon to be full length album may prove very therapeutic in that respect. Thrash in good health.