Friday, 3 August 2012
It has been four long years since the release of "The Formation Of Damnation", a monumental comeback album which saw Testament's return after trials and tribulations that could have and would have broken most mere mortals; including the thankfully successful fight Chuck Billy had with cancer. Rightfully given rave reviews, "Formation..." was hailed, worthily, as a outright modern metal classic. Finally, the much anticipated follow up, "Dark Roots Of Earth" is here, but can it live up to the undoubted great weight of expectation?
Much like before, Testament take from both the old and the new within their repertoire. A lot of the guitar work for example has the old-school thrash feel to it but through a modern lense, whilst the presence of Gene Hoglan on drums sees blastbeats popping up, and the modern and precise production certainly moves them from being a nostalgia act.
Opening with "Rise Up" it's pretty clear that they aren't going to take any prisoners. Very much a 'call to arms' number with the instantly memorable and effective mantra "When I say rise up...You say war" which should see this become a live favourite without a doubt. For the most part, "Dark Roots.." maintains a very fast pace; leaving behind some of the more mid-paced tracks "Formation.." had. The guitar work from both Skolnick and Peterson is absolutely sublime on both the thrashier riffs and melodic parts; whilst Chuck Billy's gravelly aggressive vocals are as forceful and powerful as ever.
The elephant in the room thus far however is the inclusion of the near 8 minute long ballad "Cold Embrace" which has torn people thus far. Sadly it isn't the band's best ballad thus far and it is a real momentum killer considering it follows from the opening salvo of such consistently strong and fast songs. Definitely the only low point on the album though.
An album which had a towering task to live up to its predecessor; "Dark Roots..." has thankfully lived up to the task and, whilst maybe not topping "Formation...", it certainly proves a match. The ever reliable and spectacular Testament roll on.