Testament is back after a few years rest with Dark Roots of Earth. The first thing you notice almost immediately not much has changed since 1987 and The Legacy days with these guys beside members here and there. Testament are the example of â€œif it is not broke, why fix itâ€. In 2008, when Testament returned after almost a 9 year break with Formation of Damnation, I really was excited again about Testament. But, after a 4 year rest I am not so excited about this cd. The first thing right off the bat, the cover songs on this cd are bad. They did Rapid Fire by Judas Priest a million years ago, and killed it. Nobodyâ€™s Fault by Aerosmith and killed it. Their version of Iron Maidenâ€™s Powerslave is horrible as is the Queen and Scorpions covers; they sound so uninspired and just fell flat to me. This is coming from a diehard Testament fan who has stuck with them thru thick and thin. I can easily say, these three songs can go down as the worst stuff they have ever done musically. That is painful, I was so excited to hear them and when I did I was so letdown.
Now onto the album itself which as a whole is such a mixed bag. Gone is Bostaph, in is Glen Hoglan on drums. The first thing you notice in songs like True American Hate and a few others is that they are again using blast beats. Which to me like The Gathering which they also incorporated them, really add a lot to songs like True American Hate and make them stand out. Rise up is the start off track and like every other start off track in Testamentâ€™s history it is that loud and energy driven song, to make you head bang and get into what is coming and excited about the cd. Which it does a good job of getting you stoked about what is next. Next track is Native Blood, which is the Skolnick/Billy standard, of amazing vocals over amazing riffs, then Hoglan with the blast beats, this song is really what Testament fans expect from them and happy to see delivered. The next track is the title track, which is a slower to mid heavy song for them, or as we have come to know it as the commercial song for them. The whole Testament library, it is always heavy song, technical song, and commercial song. So far, I like what I am hearing. Then, it changes, True American Hate is the song that I can honestly say is in my top ten of anything they have ever done. I first heard this song in May, when they were streaming it on the site, and I knew that this song alone would make me want to own this cd. This is Practice what you Preach era with The Gathering tempo. This is the song Testament needed to make. Just the chorus that leads to Hoglan and Skolnick little riffs and drums exchange is just flat out incredible. A day in the death is the next song, and while it was ok for what it was, but after a 4 year absence I would have wanted more passion and energy then the song offered. The last songs to me, were borderline weak and uninspired.
I feel like Testament went into the studio hungry and wanted to prove that it was back, and after about 4 songs they just decided to coast on their legacy. I will not say this is a bad cd, because Testament fans will get into it. I will say for me, you have one of the best drummers in metal, you have a recharged band and Skolnick quite possibly the most underrated metal guitarist of all time, and this is what you give us? I know live is when the true passion of Testament shows and I am dying to see how some of the songs I was not a fan of play live. As a whole, this has shades of great, shades of typical and shades of uninspired. The cover songs do not waste the extra money to own the deluxe. They are god awful. Now that they are almost 25 years old, I hate that after this cd we may not get new music until 2017. I do not want this cd to be their swan song or the holder on till something new comes out down the road.
6 out of 10