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The First Strike Is Always The Deadliest. - 90%

Metal_Jaw, February 21st, 2012

Testament is oft regarded as one of the best of the Bay Area thrash offerings, and one of the most underrated. They have a lengthy, solid, though admittedly inconsistent career, but keep a strong following of metalheads today. Much like their fellow California brethren, their first strike is the one most revered. Exodus has "Bonded By Blood", Metallica has "Kill 'Em All", Vio-Lence has "Eternal Nightmare", and Testament stands supreme with the untouchable "The Legacy".

Testament's technical thrash hits hard with their lineup here. The indomitable Chuck Billy provides the vocals, and holy mother of FUCK can this guy rock it! He takes the usual thrash style and makes it his own, letting loose with an array of killer growls, mean-as-hell screams and even some honest-to-fuck singing. The rest of the gang helps out with classic thrash gang vocals.Speaking of whom, how 'bout that Alex Skolnick, huh? Only 20 years old at the time and he was ripping that lead like a master! Highly technical and classically-influenced, he makes the thrash solo into brutal art. Assisting him is Eric Peterson on rhythm, who may not be quite as gifted, but the man is still a great player in his own right, unleashing great riffs and some cool intros to start things off. The only downplayer of course here is bass, played by Greg Christian, who, like many others, gets lost in this album's somewhat overly-quiet mix, but he helps keep time and rhythm all the same. Rounding it off is the great Louie Clemente on the kit. He's a highly technical artist in his own right. He wildly mixes typical double bass thrash hammering with more creative moments including awesome fills and mini-solos to help keep things sounding good and heavy.

The song have the privilege of being highly varied, always a welcome experience on any metal album. There's, of course, great aggressive numbers like the ferocious "Raging Waters" or "COTLOD" with Billy's mean vocals, fast drumming and memorable riffage, particularly on "Raging". "The Haunting" is a slightly slower but still wicked number with a catchy main riff and its memorable chorus. The more mid-paced but still heavy "Do Or Die" hits hard with some great gang vox amd another killer main riff, though the solo is a tad boring save for some neat riffage in the middle. "Alone In The Dark" reigns as the most commercial track on here, but still it's probably one the best with its hammering vocals, a good solo, and its unforgettable main riff, which gets mixed with a wonderful filler riff.

Overall, if you want to start with Testament, start with "The Legacy". You'll be ripped to shreds by the awesome vocal work, the incredible guitars, and vicious drumming. But be warned...FIRST STRIKE IS DEADLY!!!