Sound — 9
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.
Lyrics — 7
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.
Overall Impression — 9
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!