Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth
Nuclear Blast
Thrash Metal
13 songs (74:00)
Release year: 2012
Testament, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Aleksie
Album of the month
Testament has long been hailed for the consistency of their great quality albums all the way from The Legacy to this day. Admittedly, I’d say that every other big American thrash band that started in the 1980s haydays have had at least one stinker in their discography, while Testament has retained their ground. I may not return to listen to Low that often, but by no means is it a bad work.

But even beyond this factor, what I think makes Testament admirable in the thrash scene is that they might actually have been at their best since the turn of the millennium. Sure, I love The New Order or Practice What You Preach, but would I sooner grab The Gathering or the immaculate The Formation Of Damnation from the shelf on any given day? Yes I would. So a new album from them isn’t just a nice treat from a well-established name, and the expectations that I attach to them are largely based on older glories. The bar has been set real damn high just with their previous two albums, so the act is hard to follow.

The first thing that becomes evident on Dark Roots Of Earth is that the guys have certainly not went in to carbon-copy any of their past works. This album is versatile as all hell. Sure, it’s still rooted in good old headbanging, Chuck Billy roaring the neighbourhood’s windows into shards, the Peterson/Skolnick-duo amping up your brains with more searing guitar solos than I think even the most ardent fan of widdling would expect…but there are many a curveball to be found.

Tunes like the opener Rise Up and the title track retain a very traditional base. Riffs aplenty to keep the fists pumping. Native Blood and the scorching True American Hate make things a bit more extreme with guesting drummer Mean Gene Hoglan owning the blast beats. I’ve read interviews from Eric Peterson where he’s said that since Gene came in to help the band out again when Paul Bostaph’s arm injury kept him off the recordings, they’ve tried to figure out if Hoglan could remain in the fold for good. He seems to be a fairly busy guy but if that would be possible, this album suggests that it would be a brilliant match.

Nearly all Testament-albums have the mandatory ballad, right? Indeed they do and Cold Embrace takes care of that on this one. Traditionally half-clean, half-distorted fair, it becomes notable as it shows probably the hardest that Chuck Billy has ever delved into the realm of clean, melodic singing with not a gruff in sight until the instruments kick it up a notch. Not really among my favourites among here but an interesting experiment that shows Billy’s potential with this kind of singing as well. Instrumentally, we find a more elongated direction on Throne Of Thorns, which brings definite prog-vibes to me, like Testament doing late-70s Rush somehow (at “only” slightly over 7 minutes, though). A Day In The Death also works as one of the most convincing mid-tempo tunes I’ve heard in a while. The album's digipack edition features an extended version of Throne Of Thornes (more guitar soloing, doesn't add that much) and three nifty cover versions from Queen, Scorpions and Iron Maiden. They're mostly just really basic "metalized up" versions but the take on Queen's Dragon Attack is notable in the sense that the original song's funky groove translates very intriguingly into the heavy world of this California troupe.

With a slick and strong production job, we have a very commendable record on our hands. While I felt The Formation of Damnation was simply a relentless slab of whoop-ass, this doozy is much more melodic and versatile. I could actually see the most fanatic moshpit-fiends be taken aback for a while by this direction but there should be enough mayhem and riffage to soothe all of them as well. Prooving that Testament’s longevity and ability to transform should still carry on for years to come, Dark Roots Of Earth delivers the goods.
Killing Songs :
Rise Up, Native Blood, True American Hate, A Day in the Death, Man Kills Mankind & Throne of Thorns
Aleksie quoted 90 / 100
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 - The Ritual reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
Testament - The New Order reviewed by Tyler and quoted CLASSIC
Testament - The Legacy reviewed by Phil and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 10 reviews click here
5 readers voted
Your quote was: 86.
Change your vote

There are 59 replies to this review. Last one on Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:43 pm
View and Post comments