Review Summary: After a nine year wait, Testament return to form.
Testament arrived on the thrash scene way back in '87, arriving in the wake of Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer, who had already made their mark in the music world. Throughout the 1990's, the band suffered a number of linup changes, with only vocalist Chuck Billy and guitarist Eric Peterson remaining throughout the decade. Despite this, Testament soldiered on, delivering a number of excellent albums. 2008 saw Testament release their first album in nine years
, which was just one of the reasons for this being one of the most anticipated metal albums of the year. The other reason for its anticipation is that it contains the original lineup, except for drummer Paul Bostaph. So, here we have, The Formation Of Damnation
, an album that proves that Testament are back, and that they are in search of the soul that they had on previous albums.
That soul is back on this new record. It's a modern day thrash metal record, no more no less. But, despite the return of the original members, Testament's output is exactly the same as it was in the '90s. So, it's thrash metal riffs with a death metal tinge, as well as the trademark melodies that the band add. Among the members that have returned, we see Skolnick, the lead guitarist. His shredding is welcome and familiar, but it sometimes feels like he's playing material mostly written by Peterson. He gets songwriting credit for Dangers Of The Faithless
, and, unfortunately, adds the unnecessary technicality that bogged down 1992's The Ritual
, which was pratically, The Skolnick Show
, whilst Peterson is capable of running the show himself. The Persecuted Won't Forget
is some of Testament's most dynamic work in years and when Skolnick swoops in with a jaw-dropping solo, it's merely an added bonus.
Probably the best thing on the album, other than the nine year wait, is Chuck Billy, who is seemingly ageless. His vocals are just as harsh and ferocious as they were on 1994's Low
, when the band experimented with pure death metal. As always, the lyrics are slightly awkward, (Election day spitting bulls--t to the enslaved/Make them believe compromised insanity) This time though, the lyrics are directed, protesting the war in Iraq. Anyway, Billy's vocals have always been about their sound. Even though he has a limited 'comfort zone', he's quite expressive.
The Formation Of Damnation
explodes with energy, yet it's muzzled by adequate production, and mastering that makes it seem really loud. The album is one long peak, making it a tiring listen. Andy Sneap contributes his usual clear, heavy mix, but the mastering destroys all separation and smears everything together. However, the material is good, the song is average and it leaves the listener wanting more. If Testament are leading are leading the damnation, f--k it, sign me up. By all means check out The Formation of Damnation
. Come to it with no expectations and you'll go home plenty satisfied and refurbished from its energy. And you can't say that about a Red Bull...