Dark Roots Of Earth review by Testament

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  • Released: Jul 27, 2012
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (84 votes)
Testament: Dark Roots Of Earth
2

Sound — 8
Testament formed in 1983 with the release of their first album in 1986. They were one of the first thrash metal bands to sign to a major label, and one of the most popular thrash metal bands in the late 1980's. They have continued since that time to create great thrash metal albums. This will be the tenth full length studio release from Testament. Gene Hoglan returned on drums, having previously played on Testament's release, "Demonic", in 1997. The other 4 members are the original line-up from the first album. There are 9 tracks on the standard album version and 13 tracks on the bonus version which is available as CD/DVD or on vinyl. The standard album has a runtime of approximately 51 minutes and with the 4 bonus tracks that pushes the runtime up to 75 minutes or so. Three of the four bonus tracks are covers, with the fourth bonus track being an extended version of "Throne Of Thorns". The covers are "Dragon Attack" by Queen, "Animal Magnetism" by the Scorpions, and "Powerslave" by Iron Maiden.

The album really does start and end strong this is classic thrash metal in modern times. You get palm-muted chugging, lightning fast triplets, creepy melodies, insane solos, a driving kick drum, pounding drum fills, and the vocals roaring through the mix. Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson trade out rhythm and lead duties throughout the album which really provides an interesting contrast. They each have their own strengths which have been evidenced in their past releases Eric Peterson has always been a genius of metal rhythm, and Alex Skolnick has always been a very intelligent player, choosing modes and scales to convey precisely what he wants conveyed by his playing. With the change up you get some intricate solos and some visceral solos, and the rhythm playing starts to take on more character than in some previous releases. Overall, the album has a very aggressive sound, reminiscent in a lot of ways to early Metallica more than Testament's previous work. Also, the album cover is the most bada-s album cover this year so far.

Lyrics — 8
Chuck Billy was made for performing metal vocals not the growling vocals of the modern metal genres but the contrasting operatic to melodic roaring of early thrash metal. His voice has just enough grit and individual character to make it stand out and fit into the palette created by the instrumental members of the band. Chuck Billy has been providing vocals for Testament for over 25 years at this point, and still managing to provide a strong delivery without sounding tired or weak after all this time. Chuck Billy really sounds like a metal vocalist just going into the prime of his career, and this is what really pushes this album from good to great.

The lyrics are what you would expect on a thrash metal album, focusing on war, Armageddon, hate, death, social injustice, etc. From the song "True American Hate", here are some of the lyrics: "Fear nothing, say nothing/ pledge allegiance to what's right/ the future in question/ revolution overnight/ for all the disservice/ into peril we fell/ my instinct ticking like a time bomb/ the human race implodes/ some choose to celebrate/ some choose to hate/ some choose to live their lives through someone else's pain/ all those who follow/ all those with faith/ show us your colors/ American hate/ True American hate, hate/ true American hate, hate/ true American hate, hate/ stand up and be counted/ stand up for what's right/ fall to resurgence/ intuition overnight/ the final plot in question/ evil mind overturned/ so many flags of hate/ so many nations scorned". I trusted a site online for those lyrics, so if they are not absolutely correct I do apologize. The lyrics throughout the album are very metal, very aggressive and fit very well with the music.

Overall Impression — 8
My favorite songs on the album are the title track, "Dark Roots Of Earth", "A Day In The Death" and "Throne Of Thorns". I was also really fond of their cover of "Powerslave". I really didn't dislike any song on the album. I thought this was a much better album than their last release, "The Formation Of Damnation" and I hope this is a sample of more to come from them in the future. Eric Peterson has always been a genius of metal rhythm and the primary writer for the band, but with Alex Skolnick back, hopefully they will continue in the future to re-capture the vitality of their earlier releases as they did with this album. I would absolutely recommend this album to any metal fan, especially fans of 80's thrash metal as this album has done an excellent job of bridging the gap between 80's thrash and modern metal. Also, this is one of the coolest album covers I have seen in a while. I would recommend buying this in the store in the CD/DVD format over downloading, and get to experience listening to the album laid back looking at the album cover and liner notes. It is definitely worthwhile.

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    metallimaiden90
    All right , so Testament is one of my favourite bands of all time and I've heard this album through a couple of times and I liked it. However, there's one issue I've noticed in all thrash metal recordings in the 2000s and that's the fact that they don't have the raw sound or energy anymore doesn't.It's funny since now these bands are far more rich , the technology has improved leaps and bounds and they can afford to make the best sounding record possible. But the true essence of thrash metal is lost in my opinion. Take for example Master Of Puppets compared with Death Magnetic (terrible production aside). Or Rust In Peace compared with Endgame, which sounds more like video game music.Anthrax's Worship Music is a damn good album but I don't listen to it much simply because of how "polished" it sounds.The thrash bands of the 80s sound to "modern" these days because of the clean production.The riffs in TDROE sound too Lamb of God -ish for my taste although if this album was made in the 80s, I can imagine it standing right beside the classic 3 albums - Legacy , New Order and Practice. The bands that do get the sound right these days are Municipal Waste , Evile and Skeletonwitch.
    EpiExplorer
    Decent album, I like the slightly more progressive writing they've got going on, like in the title track. Gene is as precise as an atomic clock, as always.
    My Last Words
    metallimaiden90 wrote: All right , so Testament is one of my favourite bands of all time and I've heard this album through a couple of times and I liked it. However, there's one issue I've noticed in all thrash metal recordings in the 2000s and that's the fact that they don't have the raw sound or energy anymore doesn't.It's funny since now these bands are far more rich , the technology has improved leaps and bounds and they can afford to make the best sounding record possible. But the true essence of thrash metal is lost in my opinion. Take for example Master Of Puppets compared with Death Magnetic (terrible production aside). Or Rust In Peace compared with Endgame, which sounds more like video game music.Anthrax's Worship Music is a damn good album but I don't listen to it much simply because of how "polished" it sounds.The thrash bands of the 80s sound to "modern" these days because of the clean production.The riffs in TDROE sound too Lamb of God -ish for my taste although if this album was made in the 80s, I can imagine it standing right beside the classic 3 albums - Legacy , New Order and Practice. The bands that do get the sound right these days are Municipal Waste , Evile and Skeletonwitch.
    True mate. I'll always prefer the raw & uncut 80's thrash sound over today's.
    saint_berzerker
    metallimaiden90 wrote: All right , so Testament is one of my favourite bands of all time and I've heard this album through a couple of times and I liked it. However, there's one issue I've noticed in all thrash metal recordings in the 2000s and that's the fact that they don't have the raw sound or energy anymore doesn't.It's funny since now these bands are far more rich , the technology has improved leaps and bounds and they can afford to make the best sounding record possible. But the true essence of thrash metal is lost in my opinion. Take for example Master Of Puppets compared with Death Magnetic (terrible production aside). Or Rust In Peace compared with Endgame, which sounds more like video game music.Anthrax's Worship Music is a damn good album but I don't listen to it much simply because of how "polished" it sounds.The thrash bands of the 80s sound to "modern" these days because of the clean production.The riffs in TDROE sound too Lamb of God -ish for my taste although if this album was made in the 80s, I can imagine it standing right beside the classic 3 albums - Legacy , New Order and Practice. The bands that do get the sound right these days are Municipal Waste , Evile and Skeletonwitch.
    I think a lot of the thrash albums produced in the 80's (besides Metallica's) are bad. They have that "scooped" tone, no mid's. That might just be their guitar tone which was pop at the time...but there's a lot of reverb, and just ugh. Death Magnetic sounded more "raw" than anything, if that's what you're looking for. Though it was noisy. Rust in Peace was perfect imo, and agree that Megadeth's newer stuff is just silly sounding. I think Slayer has usually gotten a good, gritty recording.
    Leather Sleeves
    metallimaiden90 wrote: All right , so Testament is one of my favourite bands of all time and I've heard this album through a couple of times and I liked it. However, there's one issue I've noticed in all thrash metal recordings in the 2000s and that's the fact that they don't have the raw sound or energy anymore doesn't.It's funny since now these bands are far more rich , the technology has improved leaps and bounds and they can afford to make the best sounding record possible. But the true essence of thrash metal is lost in my opinion. Take for example Master Of Puppets compared with Death Magnetic (terrible production aside). Or Rust In Peace compared with Endgame, which sounds more like video game music.Anthrax's Worship Music is a damn good album but I don't listen to it much simply because of how "polished" it sounds.The thrash bands of the 80s sound to "modern" these days because of the clean production.The riffs in TDROE sound too Lamb of God -ish for my taste although if this album was made in the 80s, I can imagine it standing right beside the classic 3 albums - Legacy , New Order and Practice. The bands that do get the sound right these days are Municipal Waste , Evile and Skeletonwitch.
    Dark Roots of Compression!!!
    Abacus11
    I was listening to this album for the first time on the way to work this morning. I love Testament and this album sounds great so far!
    Molomono
    All these complaints about thrash not being the same anymore. But you know, i couldn't imagine making the same ****ing music for 25 years running. If a thrash band from the 1980's era still sounded like a thrash band from the 1980's now, i would have lost interest. Not only that but I would deem them to lack musical versatility. How else would you be able to make songs that sound the same for 25 years. Personally i love this album, Testament has always been changing it's style and each new album sounds like a whole new Testament. What they have always had which many thrash bands lacked is a feeling of togetherness. The riffs, drums, bass and vocals sounds like 1 unity, at least to me, it's what made them my favorite thrash band and they still are. And Throne of Thorns is a ****ing masterpiece.
    iommi600
    metallimaiden90 wrote: All right , so Testament is one of my favourite bands of all time and I've heard this album through a couple of times and I liked it. However, there's one issue I've noticed in all thrash metal recordings in the 2000s and that's the fact that they don't have the raw sound or energy anymore doesn't.It's funny since now these bands are far more rich , the technology has improved leaps and bounds and they can afford to make the best sounding record possible. But the true essence of thrash metal is lost in my opinion. Take for example Master Of Puppets compared with Death Magnetic (terrible production aside). Or Rust In Peace compared with Endgame, which sounds more like video game music.Anthrax's Worship Music is a damn good album but I don't listen to it much simply because of how "polished" it sounds.The thrash bands of the 80s sound to "modern" these days because of the clean production.The riffs in TDROE sound too Lamb of God -ish for my taste although if this album was made in the 80s, I can imagine it standing right beside the classic 3 albums - Legacy , New Order and Practice. The bands that do get the sound right these days are Municipal Waste , Evile and Skeletonwitch.
    My thoughts exactly. All this overproduction going on in thrash metal nowadays sickens me. I'd put Toxic Holocaust among the bands you mentioned, too.
    CoolMcAwesome
    Testament never disappoints, ever. Have to say I really am enjoying this album. Throne of Thorns is just amazing.
    MetalSlayerLADC
    Amazing album! baught it and loved it and to be honest a band should continue doing what they dol best if it means they come up with continuous excelency. Look at trivium. through experimentation on albums they created loads of absolute crap untill in waves. Metal needs to be consistent in my opinion
    kratos379
    I've listened to it twice and I think it's an amazing album. The guitar playing is excellent as usual and I'm enjoying the covers they did. I'm not sure if I have a favorite song yet, but Dark Roots of the Earth, Native Blood, Throne of Thorns, and their cover of Powerslave seem to be my favorites for now. Cold Embrace also has a great intro and is a nice change of pace in the album.
    IronboundV
    Fantastic album, "Rise Up," "Throne of Thorns," and "Last Stand For Independence" are my favourite tracks.