Tag Archives: Testament

Testament – Dark Roots Of Earth

TestamentDark Roots Of Earth (Nuclear Blast)

To be honest, I would rather see Testament included in the “Big 4” line-up than Anthrax. The lineage is there and, most importantly, the band has parlayed its third decade into an example that even headliners Metallica should have considered well before the submission that was Death Magnetic.

But as much as I liked Testament’s The Formation Of Damnation, there’s very little on the band’s newest album in four years–Dark Roots Of Earth— that would indicate that the time in between was spent on forging ahead on lyrical matters to match the top-notch thrash delivery.

The theme of war is packed within Dark Roots Of Earth, but good luck finding anything beyond clichés like “sea of rage,” “crimson rain,” and “raining seas of crimson rage.” Ok, I made the last one up, but just watch Billy use it for a line in Testament’s next release.

“True American Hate” sounds nothing more than a ready-made soundtrack for aggro meatsticks who view war as nothing more than video games with little consequence. The inspiration, claims vocalist Chuck Billy, came after seeing video of Middle Easterners burning the American Flag.

It would take Billy just a few seconds of research to discover the similarities between our endless occupation and that of his own well-documented Native American heritage. It’s not a matter of being on the right side of politics either, but to sum up a gut-check reaction to a video specifically choreographed to rile up Americans is just plain lazy.

Almost as embarrassing is the ballad “Cold Embrace,” which was evidently included as some kind of way to break up the record’s non-stop brutal delivery. It certainly wasn’t included to feature Billy’s thin vocal style and he sings some bullshit about a mythical sleeping beauty.

If there’s anything, or anyone, that can save Darks Roots Of Earth from the weight of its hokey hawkish celebration of war, it’s guitarist Alex Skolnick’s incredible soloing. It manages to save the record during points where you become absolutely numb to the countless mentions of “hate,” dim-witted references to “liberty” and “freedom,” and confusing allusions to the American war-machine, which seem to support and criticize it simultaneously.

Dark Roots Of Earth is a lowest common denominator metal record that places fans in the unfortunate position of having to defend Testament’s narrow-minded jingoism instead of celebrating their unquestionable abilities as one of thrash’s elder statesmen.

On second thought, let’s put Overkill on the Big 4 line-up instead.

Video: Testament – “Native Blood”

Video: Testament – “True American Hate”

The Metal Masters Tour Live In Chicago

Metal MasterThe Metal Masters: Testament, Motorhead, Heaven & Hell, Judas Priest

Chicago, August 19, 2008

There is a debate going on in my head that I think was solved in Chicago on Tuesday night. After growing up around metal, disowning it in college and then coming back around to it in my late 30s, my concern was that the recent resurgence was a manifestation of some mid-life crisis. If you haven’t yet faced the truth of middle age, let me fill you in: it’s a drag. It’s especially brutal when you focus on the ramifications of age and you look for opportunities to avoid the reality of your years.

Heavy metal may be the best type of music for this. It’s the epitome of fantasy after all, whether it addresses sexual prowess, dungeons and dragons fantasy, or overt machismo. Since it’s the perfect soundtrack for make believe, could it be possible that I’m drawn to it again to help ignore the obvious? When one is facing the reality that life’s rollercoaster is now descending towards the inevitable end of the ride, what better genre to reach for than heavy metal?

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Testament – The Formation Of Damnation

Testament - The Formation Of DamnationTestamentThe Formation Of Damnation (Nuclear Blast)

The reasons why San Francisco’s Testament have never been able to achieve the same notoriety as fellow Bay-area stalwarts like Metallica or Slayer could easily be spun into an intriguing story for VH1’s Behind The Music. It’s filled with medical drama, line-up changes, a revolving door of record companies, and more than a few creative missteps. You might even draw conclusions that the band’s lack of real commercial success is a culmination of these events. But their latest release, The Formation Of Damnation, proves that these events have provided the band with a creative spark, motivating them to turn in their strongest effort since their initial offerings some two decades ago.

The Formation Of Damnation sounds nothing like a band navigating through a mid-life crisis. Instead, it sounds like a band believing that they can outgun any metal outfit on the block, regardless of age. Believing that you can shred heavier than everyone else is one thing; being able to deliver that bravado is another, and Testament rips with enviable ease throughout Damnation‘s eleven tracks.

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