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Testament – Dark Roots of Earth review. (Deluxe edition)

Posted in: Forum Home >> General Music Discussion >> Testament – Dark Roots of Earth review. (Deluxe edition)

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Aug 3, 2012 4:17 PM ET #1 (permalink)

I’ve been looking forward to this disc for a long time now.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Formation of Damnation.
It was a brutal but ultimately unsatisfying and unmemorable affair.
Every song blended together and there was little in the way of dynamics.

The dynamics appeared to be back big time with Roots, then I saw the video for Native Blood and cancelled my preorder.
If the point of the video was to bring a discussion of racism to the table then it was an incredible success.
I thought the video was a little one sided/dimensional but I won’t go there.
I have little patience for racism, sexism or any of the other assorted “phobias” out there.
Well, I cancelled my preorder a tad too late and my disc came today.
So, did I out of my own self-confessed racial sensitivity smash the disc into a thousand pieces upon receipt?
Did I run it over with my car and put it on Youtube to express my dissatisfaction?
Nope…
I just sort of sat there with disc in hand like an idiot trying to decide if I should just return it or stop being a b**** and just give it a fair shake.
It should be obvious what I did…
I’ll get the obvious out of the way first.
Production…Crisp, clear, everything can be heard. Even the bass has a nice grumble even if it’s not in your face.
Its modern sounding but with enough grit to make it just right. I heard no clipping or compression but I was also listening on a cheap pair of ear buds.
The real test will be on my home system.
I’ll update later on that one.
This is a much better “comeback” album for Skolnick than Formation as this is much more like the Old Testament (deliberate pun, fvck you).
Traces of New Order, Practice, Souls, Ritual, Low all come to mind.
Billy in particular turns in the performance of his career.
Skolnick and Peterson shred old school and new.
Leads, leads, and more leads.
Greg holds down the low end like he always did, expertly.
Gene does what Gene does…destroy.

With the obvious out of the way let’s get a little more detailed shall we?
The disc opens with Rise Up and it’s a great way to start the disc.
Fast, brutal, catchy.
Native Blood is up next and is a great song with tons of dynamics even if the lyrics aren’t my cup of tea.
The title track is next and The Ritual immediately comes to mind.
Slow, plodding, a little groovy, classic Testament in every way.
True American Hate is another one we’ve gotten to hear for a while now and it’s another excellent song. I guess the band has taken some heat for incorporating blast beats but they’re neither out of place or unnecessary. In fact they add a much needed modern dimension to the Testament sound.
A Day in the Death is up next and it's catchy, mid paced thrash.
Cold Embrace…oh dear gaawd not another ballad?
Yup, it’s ballad time.
I’m actually kidding, Testament has done quite a few ballads over the years and my favorite has always been The Legacy from Souls of Black.
Does this one measure up?
Sure does, I’d put this one at number 2 right behind Legacy.
It still has the heavy chorus, and the fast middle but heck it’s been so long since we’ve heard any kind of classic thrash ballad that it sounds fresh.
Brilliant performance from Billy.
Man Kills Mankind comes next and it’s another mid paced thrasher. Another awesome vocal from Billy. Catchy, brutal, classic.
Throne of Thorns. An ominous beginning gives way to a thumping riff that had me bouncing around like a total moron.
Some spoken word that reminded me of Dimmu Borgir. A very progressive type song. I loved it.
The disc finishes off with Last Stand for Independence and it’s a scorcher. Well, it doesn’t really break the speed barriers but it shreds at a nice pace.

Bonus songs.
Dragon Attack is pretty vicious and it should be, this is Queen were talking about baby!
Animal Magnetism is slow, pounding brutal, and has some of the most drool inducing lead work I’ve heard in ages.
Powerslave…its friggin Maiden, nuff said.
Last Stand for Independence extended has some additional leads that were better off being left on the cutting room floor for the main disc.
Great song but the additional run time wasn’t necessary but it’s still nice to hear.

So there you have it.
The new disc from Testament reviewed by someone who’s been a fan since New Order. (I still have mine on LP)
Am I glad I was unsuccessful in cancelling my preorder?
Yes….old pale face can stop being a politically correct wuss for five seconds and actually enjoy the music for what it is.
Even though I had stated on another thread that I’d heard the songs on Youtube and nothing blew me away. At that point I was rather ticked to start with and more than determined to hate the album.
Does Dark Roots blow me away like their first five albums?
Simply…yes.
This album really is a dream come true for an old bitter thrash fan.
I’m starting to think Gene Hoglan is the “secret sauce”.
First he helps rejuvenate Fear Factory then he’s on the best Testament album since Ritual.
Coincidence?
I’m starting to not think so…
I’d put Roots right up there with Practice and New Order easily but more modern sounding.
The old school is there but it doesn’t sound dated.
The magic of Skolnick/Peterson is just as potent as it ever was.
Will everyone love this disc?
Nope.
You can’t please everyone and for people looking for another Demonic, Gathering or Formation you might want to preview this one before you buy it.
Honestly I didn’t care for Formation or Gathering and Demonic only had a few good tracks on it.
Testament, while staying true to thrash while just about every other band bolted as fast as they could, may have kept the intensity intact but still somehow managed to lose me in a sea of aimless brutality.
On Roots there really isn’t anything that approaches the speed of light. There’s some fast stuff here but most of it is pretty mid paced and I loved it.
There are so many layers to explore on this album that super-fast wouldn’t do it justice.
I haven’t had time to watch the DVD, but I’ll update later.
The packaging is top shelf all the way. Very nice quality.

To summarize…
A brilliant and brutal return to old school form.
Testament takes everything that was great about all their different periods and mixes them together for an album that has managed to bring this jaded metal vet back into the fold.
Excellent production.
Exceptional song writing.
The vocal performance of a lifetime from Billy.
Even though the old school is in full effect there is a maturity present that was completely unexpected and yet it’s also interesting and satisfying.
Brilliant, this one will be on my Ipod for a long time to come.
Recommended.
Thanks for reading…

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