Testament - The New Order
Megaforce Records
Thrash Metal
10 songs (39:12)
Release year: 1988
Testament, Megaforce Records
Reviewed by Tyler

Regardless of your opinions regarding the state of the current metal scene, I think its hard not to get a little excited about the monumental thrash revival that is spreading itself from the very bottom of the underground to the tippy top of the Metal Mount Olympus. Up and comers such as Warbringer, Gama Bomb, and Evile have brought a renewed sense of youthful enthusiasm via an unrelenting love for 80’s thrash metal, one of Metal’s most revered movements. Perhaps this has trickled upwards, because just about every band that was around in the 80’s at the dawn of thrash has been on a hot streak of late; within the last five years alone, thrash pioneers Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus, Machine Head, Annihilator, Overkill, Kreator, and Death Angel (to name a few, really) have all released albums to critical acclaim. With nu metal dead and gone (finally), oversaturated metalcore dying slowly (too slowly), groove metal’s beloved heroes Sepultura and Pantera split up (well, the former isn’t really its old self), and most death/black metal still comfortably confined to the underground, it seems that thrash metal is once again at the top of the metal heap. If that wasn’t enough, the almighty Big Four of thrash, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer, put aside a hodge-podge of differences and long-past feuds to do a string of seven shows in Europe, together, on the same stages, and on the same nights. The legendary occasion was met with ravenous excitement by the metal community, and the show in Sofia, Bulgaria was broadcast in movie theaters the world over. The concert is set to be released as a DVD, and as we speak, America is collectively holding its breath as hint after hint spills about an impending tour of the States.

And so we come to Testament, the proverbial outsider looking in, the fifth member of the Big Four (as I like to think of them). I must say that after listening to the band’s 1988 album The New Order, I cannot possibly understand how this band has never received the same kind of mainstream success as those four pioneers soaking up most of the attention. The band has been just as hot (if not hotter) than any of their Bay Area peers, releasing the excellent The Formation of Damnation in 2008, and touring as direct support for the likes of Judas Priest, Motorhead, Heaven and Hell, Slayer, and Megadeth in recent years. For those who have cared to listen to the band, they know that during the late 80’s and early 90’s, Testament released a group of albums that are just as essential as anything released during that time, and The New Order is considered by many to be the best of the bunch. The thing I find so wonderful about the band is that, for me, they take pieces of the other big thrash bands to make what I consider the quintessential thrash sound; the vocal power of Anthrax’s frontmen, the aggression of Slayer, the musical savvy of Megadeth, and the hugeness of Metallica, all synthesized into something uniquely Testament and completely thrash metal at its best.

From front to back, The New Order is a forceful lesson of all that the thrash metal scene was in the 80’s, both musically and lyrically, which makes the lyric “tell the world the new order’s here” all the more appropriate; Testament doesn’t just make a case for thrash’s legitimacy here, they take the last bits of doubt and tear them to pieces. From the very first moments of Eerie Inhabitants, the band flaunts their biggest strength musically: the guitar duo of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick. These two complement each other in an unbelievable way, with Peterson constantly playing the role of “second fiddle” to perfection while Skolnick makes his jazz-influenced virtuosity known. Whether it is an eerie acoustic guitar riff setting the mood for a jazzy scale run or a chugging thrash riff under frenetic shredding, the way the two play off of each other gives the feeling that the two recorded the entire album sitting right next to each other, riffing it out and playing on each other’s vibes. The band expertly incorporates variety into the music, with Egyptian-style harmonies in the title track and Into the Pit, a pair of slow instruments with Hypnosis and Musical Death (A Dirge) (the latter featuring a classical guitar solo compliments of Peterson), and a cover of Aerosmith’s song Nobody’s Fault. It is through that cover and songs such as Trial By Fire that shows the band willingness to incorporate big hooks and gang vocals into its music, something that was present in the best of the 80’s thrash groups. Regardless of the song, however, frontman Chuck Billy absolutely shines throughout. He manages to strike a balance between the growls of James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine, the rasp of Rob Halford, and the high registers of Joey Belladonna. On The New Order, Billy makes a strong case for the most versatile frontman in thrash, and his voice is the perfect compliment for the masterful thrash of his band.

What impresses me most about this album is the energy and continuity that radiates from every moment of every song. If you can resist headbanging to songs like Disciples of the Watch and Into the Pit, you either aren’t that into metal, or you may be clinically dead. There is just so much vigor and conviction in every inch of music here, its hard not to be wowed by a band in such a form. I can’t really find a flaw here; the riffs are hit-never-miss, Alex Skolnick's solos are carefully arranged yet lively and impressive, the bass and drums are at completely reasonable levels of audibility, and Chuck Billy nails every note like a man possessed by the very music erupting from the instruments of the band members surrounding him. The lyrics aren’t particularly revelatory, but they accompany the mood of the music efficiently, and range in subject matter from the apocalypse to the “Children of the Corn” movies in Disciples of the Watch. This is thrash metal perfection from one of the genre’s greatest bands, and an absolute classic of metal in genre. As I mentioned before, Chuck Billy assured that the world knew that thrash had arrived in the title track. Now, thrash is back in a big way, vindicating the determination of the genre’s pioneers, Testament doubtlessly included, who did it first and did it best. As such, now is a better time than ever to pick up The New Order and start educating yourself about thrash, because it is here to stay once again.

Killing Songs :
All of them
Tyler quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Testament that we have reviewed:
Testament - Souls of Black reviewed by Bar and quoted 80 / 100
Testament - Demonic reviewed by Bar and quoted 68 / 100
Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
Testament - The Ritual reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
Testament - The Legacy reviewed by Phil and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 10 reviews click here
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