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Testament > The Legacy > Reviews > MetalManiaCometh
Testament - The Legacy

Testament: The Legacy - 95%

MetalManiaCometh, January 12th, 2022

Testament as a band never really…did much for me compared to some of the other classic thrash acts from the eighties that arose around the same time as them. Not saying they were or are bad but to be completely honest I had a hard time getting into their music. I started off with “Practice What You Preach” and “Souls Of Black” and found them to be particularly boring; an opinion that has changed somewhat since then. Of course I’d venture back to listen to their sophomore effort, “The New Order” and was pleasantly pleased with how much I enjoyed that one and jumped right into their debut, “The Legacy”, and that’s when the band really clicked for me. “The Legacy”, and in a similar fashion Exodus’s “Bonded By Blood” as well, started the band off at the top of their game but never reaching the same heights, in my eyes. “The New Order” gets close but I’m still of the opinion that “The Legacy” is still Testament’s Magnum Opus out of all of their career.

Arguably “The Legacy” is probably the catchiest release from the bands whole catalogue, offering a fair share of memorable riffing, hooks, and Chuck Billy’s excellent vocal delivery. “Over The Wall” starts the album off on a high note, opening the record to a speedy thrash assault with a irresistible head banging rhythm section. Most of the record follows in this vein, overloading with speedy riffing, snappy and melodious hooks, and unforgettable jazz and classical influenced solo wizardry. There’s not much outside of tempo variety, besides adding some slower moments in already fairly speedy songs, such as slowing down the rhythm section towards the middle of “Over The Wall” when the solo begins, the eerie yet beautiful opening of “Burnt Offerings”, or transitioning to a more grooving riff in the middle of “The First Strike Is Deadly”. The whole album just grips the listener with high octane thrashing and never lets up. The only song that I could say tries to do something different tempo wise is “Alone In The Dark” as it goes for a mid-tempo stroll for most of its duration.

Even when most of the music opts for fast paced tempo work, the songs never really feel similar to one another as that’s the bigger drive of variety found on “The Legacy”, rhythmic variety. Every song surprisingly sounds distinct from each other and there are elements that weren’t really used on your typical thrash / tech thrash debut in the eighties. I mentioned “Alone In The Dark” and “Burnt Offerings” above and, to me, those songs have an overall Arabic musical influence in the rhythm sections that helps set them apart from most of the songs on this record and among Testaments peers while also being distinct enough from each other. Testament also adds little interludes to some of their songs, such as the dark and atmospheric opening in “The Haunting” and “Apocalyptic City”, and the little guitar melody in “Burnt Offerings” which helps set up the tone and overall feeling that lasts throughout these songs. One could say that none of those things are new, as the thrash genre started messing around with that type of writing since eighty four and I’d agree with that. Yes it isn’t entirely new but it’s done very well as it establishes a tone and atmosphere and, for a side note, seems that the band has taken notes down to make sure their songs fit in the next stage of the genres evolution so they could stand up to those newer records from thrash bands that has already put out two or three albums already. And for the most part, “The Legacy” can stand toe to toe with them.

Another element “The Legacy” has that the genre was developing and headed towards was more technical finesse and Testaments debut surely has that as well thanks to Alex and Eric’s dual guitar attack, being one of the best combos in business. With Alex’s clear influence of jazz and classical music and Eric’s excellent palm muting rhythm skills, Testament was able to hammer such fairly interesting and technical riffs and solos while never sounding sloppy or getting over their own heads. Some of their best trade offs come out of songs like “Raging Waters”, “Curse Of The Legions Of Death”, and the already mentioned “Over The Wall”. They know their own skills and are able to work off one another to make a tight, cohesive performance. Both Louie Clemente on the drums and Greg Christian on bass put on a hell of a performance but the writing itself isn’t nearly as interesting as the guitar work. They’re solid, no doubt, but the writing for both those instruments are used to help prop the guitars up and not really given a time to shine. Luckily both Greg and Louie really get to shine on later albums.

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but Chuck Billy’s vocal performance on “The Legacy” is downright my absolute favorite out of the band's whole discography. Chuck is absolutely wild on this record and his most aggressive without his death growls that he’d utilize more in the nineties. Not to mention, Chuck has much more of a higher pitch on here than anywhere else in their timeline. There’s plenty of snarl or high sqeeching screams that would rival Blitz if Blitz didn’t already class the whole school of thrash screams in his first two records. But besides all of the aggressive barks and screams, Chuck is actually very melodic, with the bridge in “Alone In The Dark” being a prime example and an excellent showcasing of his skills as well. Compared to future releases, where it’s clear Chuck chose to go more into that melodic route with a clear James Hetfield influence, I think Chuck really tried to embody Zetro here, seeing how Zetro was the original singer and Chuck came in towards the end. After listening to the original Legacy demos, I think that’s very much the case. Personally I think it’s not only admirable but also memorable as Chuck hits it right out of the park on “The Legacy”.

“The Legacy” is a classic for sure, a top tier thrash debut with a ton of great ideas with excellent execution. After spending my time going through Testament's early catalog to set a right mind for myself to formulate a series of reviews, “The Legacy” always seemed to pop up in my brain, even as I was listening through “The New Order” all the way up to “The Ritual”. I wholeheartedly believe “The Legacy” is their most cohesive record they’ve put out. There’s something special about this album and, if it came out earlier, I could have seen it making a bigger splash within the evolving genre. Yet it did not. Regardless of when it came out, “The Legacy” is an excellently written album with fully interesting twists and turns between tracks and an absolute classic in the thrash genre. If there was only one Testament record that I could choose as a centerpiece of their legacy, I’d clearly choose “The Legacy”.