There are certain bands in this world that get my metal blood pumping in ways that other bands can't. Since I first started really getting into metal in the late 80's (yes I am that old) one of those bands has always been Testament.
Bay Area thrash legends, Testament, have unleashed their newest full length and their 10th overall, Dark Roots of Earth. I think I should be up front in telling you that Testament holds a special place in my blackened heart. In 1987, as I was first really discovering the power of metal, the band released their debut full length, The Legacy. Upon the recommendation of a schoolmate's older brother it was one of the first albums (yes, album, as in vinyl) that I can remember buying on my own hard-earned, lawn-mowing dime. I fell in love with it immediately. The band has admittedly had some ups and downs over the years (albeit more ups than downs) but since the release of The Formation of Damnation album in 2008 they are clearly back atop the thrash metal throne as far as I'm concerned. While Metallica decided to become an "alt rock" band and Megadeth and Anthrax just ain't what they used to be, Testament meanwhile has reinvigorated themselves and are once again writing absolutely top-notch albums.
Dark Roots of Earth is a slightly more melodic effort overall than Formation... but that's not to say it doesn't rip you a new one from time to time. Legendary drummer Gene Hoglan is behind the kit once again (he played on the band's Demonic album in 1997) and sets the tone with the occasional blast beat, double bass domination and his usual stellar play. The twin guitar attack of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick has always been one of the most underrated duos in metal history. They continue to write riffs and solos that are second to none. Add to this the fact that Chuck Billy still sounds as fantastic and menacing as ever and what you have is a band that is still at the top of their game 25+ years after their formation. Songs like "Native Blood" and "Man Kills Mankind" are as good as anything this band has ever written.
One of my favorite parts about Testament is how much they kill it in the live setting. A true testimony to the material on this album is that I can already tell that these tracks will fit right at home alongside the band's classic material. I look forward to it and I hope it comes sooner than later! Anyone who calls themselves a fan of thrash metal needs to own this record or risk the dreaded "poseur" tag.