Release Date: Apr 29, 2008
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genres: Metal, Thrash
Number Of Tracks: 11
Metallica might have turn their backs on the sound that originally brought them notoriety years ago but fellow Bay Area bashers, Testament have returned with a new set of blazing thrash metal!
The Formation Of Damnation
UG Team, on april 29, 2008 6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: You would be hard pressed to find a veteran musician as dedicated to heavy metal as Eric Peterson. The Testament guitarist has been waving the thrash metal flag for the better part of three decades through commercial highs and lows. Throughout the mid-90's, when most of his peers either threw in the towel or altered their sound to try and fit whatever the current trends were, Peterson went the other way, taking his band's sound into even heavier territories. The Formation of Damnation is the Bay Area legends' first new studio album in years and it's a beast of a collection! From the epic march of instrumental opener, For The Glory Of... to the anthemic refrains of More Than Meets the Eye, it is clear that the band is intent on reclaiming their glory and proving their relevance. What truly made Testament a force to reckon was their seamless blend of grit and harmony and the band quickly plays on their strengths here. The thick power chords that frame More Than Meets the Eye give way to a hooky chorus and the kind of chant that was tailor-made for optimal crowd participation.
After a decade plus break from the band, lead guitarist Alex Skolnick returns to the fold and his presence is immediately felt. On paper, his jazz-leaning solos finding their way onto the band's ferocious assault would seem like an oil and water kind of disaster. Funnily enough, it actually turns out to be the ingredient that was missing on the band's last two albums. His fluidity and colorful playing tempers Peterson's monolithic riffing lending the proceedings some interesting contrast. His sweeping solos on songs like Henchmen Ride and Afterlife are lessons in restraint, melodic interplay, and taste. His years away playing with his jazz trio seems to have actually invigorated the guitarist's passion for rock guitar. // 8
Lyrics: Testament has tackled everything from environmental issues to child abuse and even occult themes on their earliest output. The Formation of Damnation is a very lyrically current record. The Evil Has Landed deals with the threat of terrorism and climate in the Middle East. The song even goes onto name-check 9/11 in the opening lines. Killing Season is a rally call for the American troops stationed overseas. With the Catholic Church under terrible scrutiny in the last few years, vocalist Chuck Billy goes at it head on with the damning lyrics of Dangers of the Faithless. His unfussy and direct lyrical style suits the nature of these subjects. Check out the venomous wordplay of a song like The Persecuted Won't Forget for proof of Billy's power. An avid biker, he makes a case for the freedom of the open road on the thrilling, Henchmen Ride. This is the kind of mid-tempo crusher that the band does so well. Another strong suite of the group in the past has been the slow-burning, ballad-type of track. I kept on waiting for a moment like that to show it's face but it never did. I might be in the minority on this but I would have loved to hear a song like Return to Serenity on this new album. But with material this heavy, it's absence isn't a deal breaker. // 8
Overall Impression: It's not that Testament have ever made a weak album-The Ritual wasn't that bad-but TFOD sounds like the wrecking machine legions of thrash fans came to love. Peterson dishes out some of the most potent riffs of his career while Greg Christian (bass) and former Forbidden and Slayer drummer, Paul Bostaph lock in grooves with expert results. On Leave Me Forever, the ace rhythm section lay down an ominous yet infectious groove that recalls Souls of Black from earlier in their storied career. A few years back, Billy was diagnosed with cancer and ultimately beat it with the help of an unorthodox combo of modern and Native American medicine. From the stand-out performance the vocalist gives here, you would never know it. Not only does his signature roar remain intact, years of singing have revealed a new, almost soulful croon beneath the wailing. Throughout the years, Billy has been often compared to James Hetfield but he proves here that he is in a class all his own. The men in Testament might be in their early '40s and late '30s but they play with the virility of a band half their age. With TFOD they have crafted an album that could have easily have come out twenty years ago but somehow still sounds as fresh and urgent as anything out in the current metal scene. That in itself is a feat not to be ignored. // 8
The Formation Of Damnation
thisHATEinside, on april 29, 2008 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Anyone who is a fan of legendary Bay Area thrash metal band Testament knows that one of their key trademarks is that they do not follow any other trends of other thrash bands. In the early 1990s when Metallica decided to become more "commercially accessible," Testament went in the exact opposite direction, becoming almost a death metal band in their brutality. However, as amazing as these albums were, fans still searched for that missing piece. Today, they have found it again. Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Skolnick is back. Arguably the greatest and most technical thrash guitarist of all time, Skolnick's prowess of shredding makes it's welcome return to the band after a long 16 years. However, what makes the album's sound truly amazing is Testament's combination of their classic Skolnick-era speed and technicality with all the heaviness of the 90s, including Eric Peterson's brutal crushing rhythm guitars. Former Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph rounds out the band with his excellent double-bass talents, along with some surprisingly interesting drum parts. // 10
Lyrics: I personally over the years have generally loved the lyrics of Testament's albums, but unfortunately I must admit that by far the weakest part of the album are the lyrics/song titles. For example, "The Evil Has Landed" is about 9/11... 7 years after it happened. Also, while Testament's social commentary is pretty good and original, on this album some of it feels a little stereotypical and overused, like the "Society is choking me" in "The Persecuted Won't Regret." However, what saves the album's lyrics is Chuck Billy's voice, who is living proof that cancer cannot only be beaten, it can be beaten to a pulp; not only has Chuck's voice withstood vocal cancer, but it almost sounds the better for it. I have heard his voice compared to sounding like he just gargled broken glass, and that is about right. It's that cutting, rough and earth-moving scream that keeps your adrenaline pumping and your head banging. // 7
Overall Impression: In an age where pure thrash is almost gone, Testament has the nerve to say, "this is thrash." Not only have they been able to make a truly brutal album, but they have also returned to their thrash roots and proven that true metal never gets old. If I were to pick three of the best songs on the album, I would say that they would be "Afterlife," heard on tour last year, "The Formation Of Damnation," and "More Than Meets The Eye." However, true metal may not get old, but at the same time the album only really stands out because of Chuck Billy and Alex Skolnick, without whom it would probably not be as incredible. In any case, at this rate I can honestly see Testament releasing more and more thrash albums. Skolnick's guitars make this album an early contender for "Metal Album of the Year", and certainly is a must have for all lovers of thrash, or even all metalheads. // 9
The Formation Of Damnation
Jamo888, on april 30, 2008 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: When Testament first formed, they quickly became known as the "little brothers" of the Big Four of Thrash (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax). Now it seems the tables have turned. While Metallica tried too many things at once, Megadeth followed suit, Slayer downtuned their guitars to create faux-heavy albums, and Anthrax basically vanished from popular culture altogether. Meanwhile, people have forgotten what an incredibly consistent band Testament is. Well, the "little brothers" have released an album that will remind their peers of who they are and where they came from, as well as boldly blazing the trail for the future. If that sounds like an overexaggeration, listen to the album yourself. The riffs are creative and engaging and the songwriting is untouchable. The solos blaze yet also leave room for melodic flair. Although Paul Bostaph has played much more complicated stuff on other releases, his drums are crisp, direct, and don't get in the way of the songs. And the songs, ladies and gentlemen, is where the album shines. They are catchy and melodic, yet not overwhelmingly so, and not in the cheesy emo-inflected ways of many new bands. The production is clean but not slick. Sure, the songs sound similar, but doesn't every song by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, or AC/DC sound exactly alike? Then there's the energy, my god, the energy. Testament plays with more enthusiasm than bands half their age. If this album doesn't pump you up, you don't have a pulse. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics seem to go unnoticed at first, but upon closer inspection they reveal real depth. It's poetic but not poetry, and even as it name-checks 9/11, it remains in good taste. The vivid descriptions of "flames on the river" (an image which sticks in my mind even as I'm writing this review) will leave scars on your back of your retinas. Compared to the slew of recent releases which never seem to even try to have memorable lyrics ("The Crusade" is a classic example), this album shows off the hard work, dedication and experience of these veterans. As for Chuck Billy's voice, he is capable of pulling off melody while still maintaining the grit that makes his a compelling voice in the first place. // 8
Overall Impression: In a nutshell, this album is more than the sum of it's parts. This is the album Testament has been building towards, and will be the crown jewel in their respective careers until, well until they write another album. The Formation of Damnation probably won't appeal to people outside of a core heavy metal audience, but Testament has never written albums for mainstream acceptance. They only know no compromise, and as a result they have written an album that will reaffirm your faith in humanity and make you feel alive. That alone deserves your attention. // 10
The Formation Of Damnation
guitarfreak222, on january 08, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Man, At the time, I've only heard one Testament song which was "Souls of black" and I loved it. I was on holiday and at Taiwan trying to find heavy metal albums. I picked up this CD and "The system has failed" by Megadeth. The songs on this album were very different from Souls of black. This is a very modern sounding thrash metal album to my ears and I instantly fell in love with it. It's extremely heavy, sound quality is very good. The heavy distortion on the guitars is very nice and thick sounding. The drums are very intense and I love them soooooo much. // 9
Lyrics: His singing is so good, they were way more intense than Souls of black. The vocals are utterly utterly utterly perfect!!! However the lyrics seem a bit cliche here or there, sometimes very cheesy however, they're good lyrics. I love chuck billy's vocals, they are my favourite heavy metal vocals of all time, especially in the track "The formation of damnation". // 10
Overall Impression: This is a very very very very good album. It is one of my favourites. It shows that thrash is still alive and well. I think testament is a very underrated band. They should be up there with metallica, megadeth and slayer. My favourite songs are... actually, to be honest, I love every single song equally. This album is flawless. There's nothing I hate about it. Very nice album. My favourite album released in 2008 to be precise. Well done testament! // 10
The Formation Of Damnation
Silas S Thompso, on january 21, 2009 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Testament was for a while one of the most popular thrash metal bands on the face of the earth. Known for their technical prowess they achieved much acclaim from metalheads everywhere. In the mid 90's when some of their comtemporaries (Anthrax, Metallica) were changing their sound for a more mainstream audience, Testament decided to experiment with death and groove metal stylings. The release of Low started showing their groove metal style. It wasn't until Dave Lombardo (Ex Slayer) joined them to play drums, that they became a death metal act. The Gathering was their heaviest album at that point. In 2001, chuck Billy (vocals) was diagnosed with a testicular type of cancer that was found near his heart. He went through Chemotherapy and has since recovered completely to make this masterpiece.
This album is a good demostration of their ability to play more 80's style thrash and play their death metal influenced sound. I just listened to this for the first time and I loved it. So I'm going to break down all the tracks on the album and explain what songs are good, and which are bad.
01.For the Glory of...: this isn't really a full song. It's just an introduction to the album with some good drums by Paul Bostaph (Ex Slayer, Forbidden, Exodus). Some real creepy guitar
02.More than Meets the Eye: this song was chosen to be their music video. It starts out with some choir like whoa's. Then it goes into a galloping rythm where Chuck shows the aggression in his voice. This song doesn't show the death metal side of his vocals. There is also a cool lead riff that plays as a breakdown throughout the song. One of the verses goes like this
"Next chapter of my life is filled with violent scenes
I stay awake at night hiding from my dreams
The voices haunting me, driving me insane
Can't seem to get away, they're calling out my name".
03.The evil has Landed: Starts out with a harmony riff, then goes into a classic thrash riff. This song seems to me to be about 9/11 where he says
"The sky began to fall ripping opening a path up to heaven.
Time slowed to a crawl early morning September eleventh
Steel crumbling frames the scales of justice are decimated
Hate ignites the flames New York city incinerated"
This is one of the average songs on the album.
04.Formation of Damnation: this is the song I always skip, because I'm not a big fan of the death grunts which go nonstop in this song. This seems like a very political song. I got that from this first verse: "False leaders crowned, a world of mass destruction. Can't wash the lies away death messiah to whom people pray" Probably the best part of this song are the drums. Superb playing by Bostaph.
05.Dangers of the Faithless: one of the best songs, featuring an amazing chorus that makes you feel so full of adrenaline. It just flows with these lyrics
"Through the years, through the eyes and the lies
What he sees has become no surprise
Through the years and the tears and the lies
Condemned to hell, condemned to fate, condemned to time"
I'm still not too sure what Chuck is singing about. Seems like destruction.
06.The Persecuted Won't Forget: starts of with a riff that's fast as hell. Then the double bass joins in. This is one of the faster tracks on the record. Then it slows down for Chuck to start with his awesome verse:
"The noose around my neck cinched in tight unmercifully
The tighter that it gets enables only my eyes to see
Truth through all the dust, twisted lies, which you decree
System unjust, you will never bend my knees"
This is another one of the better songs on the record. Some parts seem a little forced where he gets to bridge where he screams Lies, Lies. The lyrics seems to go a little too fast and without a good melody.
07.Henchmen Ride: starts off with a fast riff. The part that stands out to me is the drumming. Then chuck comes in with a real bouncing verse melody that is echoed by the guitars. This song is about 9/11
"Forward, shifting gears
In the wind the henchmen ride
Engines roar with the energy
More miles and the wind and speed
Going fast is a way of life
Living life when the henchmen ride"
This one is unrelentlessly fast. It's whiplash waiting to happen. There's also a good solo in here. One of the better ones off the album.
08.Killing Season: one of the slow hook-filled ones. awesome harmony solo after the first verse. With some wah wah in there. Fits perfectly into the song. I think this one's about Iraq:
"Killing season, has begun with blood in my eyes the truth blames the lies
Machine gun, no place to run killing season"
Short but sweet chorus. Other than kick ass lyrics, this song is Jam packed with kick ass solos.
09.Afterlife: this is one of the almost letdowns of the album. It's about I guy who raises and teaches his son about life. Now the son is thinking about it after his father's dead. Even though it's not perfect it's still heavy and very thrashy. Good lyrics, just not for Testament
"When my old man was alive he always would teach
When my old man was alive he always believed in me
He helps shape his son, the man that I've become"
Sounds like the lyrics are a real experience.
10.F.E.A.R: in my opinion the best song on the album. Starts out with a drum solo. Very catchy chorus.
"Fear will come alive fear will go, through the darkness and the woes
There will be a light deep below, the sub-conscience only knows
Fear, fear, shattering the atmosphere fear, fear, travesty is here
Here, here, covering the path that's clear
Fear is only what you feel... false evidence appearing real"
awesome song is all that needs to be said. Perfection.
11.Leave Me Forever: the slowest song on the album. It's about a failed relationship. It talks about a guy who resents a girl after all that she's done to him. Good way to end the album.
"Promises you never meant to keep what I thought we had was love
Used to say I was the only one how could I be so wrong
When you chose me to be the one our life together has not begun
Manipulation, presume control the lights are broken inside my soul"
Doesn't really fit their style but it is still great. // 9
Lyrics: The first thing to talk about here is the negatives. Chuck has lost his vocal range. So now he sings deeper and more aggressive. He can't scream like in song like the Preacher and Nobody's fault. The good things are that his deep vocals fit with the new dark tones that the guitars use. It seems like he still has some great energy still, and still loves to sing. That always helps a record sound good. // 7
Overall Impression: While this album is no The New Order, it's not a St. Anger. Here I'm going to compare it to other thrashers new releases.
anthrax - We've Come for you all < Formation of Damnation
Exodus - Atrocity Exhibition... Exhibit A < Formation of Damnation
Metallica - Death Magnetic < Formation of Damnation
Megadeth - United Abomination > Formation of Damnation
Slayer - Christ Illusion < Formation of Damnation
Sodom - M16 < Formation of Damnation.
If it were stolen, I'd take my hand and rip their still beating heart out of them and shove it down their throat. And to think I bought this because there were no more copies of death magnetic at the store. Thank God! // 9