The Formation Of Damnation review by Testament

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  • Released: Apr 29, 2008
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.8 (108 votes)
Testament: The Formation Of Damnation

Sound — 9
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.

Lyrics — 8
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.

Overall Impression — 10
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.

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I got this album yesterday, and the only thing that disappointed me a little was the vocals. The vocals weren't as powerful as the last albums unfortunately, but that's just my opinion. The riffs are awesome, so are the solos. The drums are just sick!
    BlisteringDDj wrote: I can't wait to get my hands on this one!!!
    that's what she said....funny, no? but anyways, this album will go down as one of testament's best. i have not stopped listening to it since i bought it. it's wonderful. The Formation Of Damnation is one of the only CDs i can push play and listen to every song and enjoy.
    I've been looking for this album but I couldn't find it anywhere! From what I'm hearing (and the samples that I heard on myspace) it far surpasses The Gathering, which I thought kicked major ass. I MUST HAVE IT!! GARR!!!
    Oh my god! This album is truly a "MaStErPiEcE"... I think I got to explore this band. I'm imagining their early records. 10/10.
    The Legacy and Low are infinitely better than this record, but this album is truely amazing. I'd much rather listen to The Legacy though.
    I go this album today, I have listened to it a few times through. It's the first album I've gotten from Testament and I am extremely impressed. I've been a Metallica and Megadeth fan for a long time, since they came up, and this blows them away. I highly recommend this album to Testament fans, and metal fans alike. My favorite tracks at the mooment are: Henchman Ride, More Than Meets The Eye, and Killing season. Stay Metal!
    is anyone gonna tab this damn album? shit is awesome and i can't quiet play it by ear yet.
    is anyone gonna tab this album? this shit is awesome and i can't quite play it by ear yet.