Release Date: Jul 31, 2012
Record label: Nuclear Blast
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Forget Metallica, forget Megadeth, Anthrax, and even Slayer! The most formidable on-stage thrash metal powerhouse of 2011 was arguably the (mostly) reconstituted classic lineup of Testament: singer Chuck Billy, guitarists Alex Skolnick, and Eric Peterson, plus returning bass badass Greg Christian and occasional drummer Gene Hoglan, who probably tops most predecessors on the stool, most would agree. This fearsome ensemble spent several months tearing up concert halls worldwide, consistently putting the "mosh" back in the "pit," before invading Oakland, California's Driftwood Studios to record their tenth album Dark Roots of Earth, which, though not quite as timeless as Testament's late-'80s triumphs, sure comes as close as anything they've done over the past 20 years. Savagely lucid thrashers like "Rise Up," "True American Hatred," and "Last Stand for Independence" highlight everything that made Testament special from day one and their failure to achieve stardom so perplexing: the homegrown Bay Area violence rivaled only by Exodus and a versatile musicality on par with Metallica.
On their 10th album, Bay Area titans Testament maintain their hard-won reputation as the only one of the major ’80s thrash bands who still haven’t released a crappy record. Even the mighty Slayer disappointed with 1998’s nu-metal-tinged Diabolus in Musica, but Testament have been rock fucking solid since their 1987 debut. With laser-tight drums provided by Dethklok’s Gene Hoglan and Lamb of God’s Chris Adler (both filling in for the injured Paul Bostaph), Dark Roots offers shred-heavy political statements (“True American Hate”), hook-laden power-jags (“Native Blood”), and straight-up rippers (“Man Kills Mankind”), slipping only on slower material like the title track and quasi-ballad “Cold Embrace.” J.
For the love of all that is metal, will Testament ever put out a bad album? Here, former drummer Gene Hoglan (Death, Strapping Young Lad, etc.) returns to the fold to provide the backbone for the always-impressive thrash band. Like their 2008 comeback disc, The Formation of Damnation, this is Testament at their finest: opener "Rise Up" perfectly encapsulates the heavy thrash sound the band have absolutely perfected. "Native Blood," despite some misplaced blast beats, shows the group's ability to write melodic choruses that are catchy, but never cutesy (and when that song picks up at the end, that's pure Testament glory).
Thrash metal legends’ 10th album doesn’t quite match their previous highs. Raziq Rauf 2012 Often placed by their fans as the fifth member of the thrash metal "Big Four" – said bands being Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth – Testament created something of an albatross for their admittedly very sturdy necks with 2008’s outstanding The Formation of Damnation album. The Californians’ ninth studio set was, and remains, their career high.