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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Testament - Dark Roots of Earth review

Year : 2012
Genre : Thrash Metal with Alternative/Rock nods
Label : Nuclear Blast
Origin : United States
Rating :  8.0 / 10

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With Dark Roots of Earth, America's Testament brings the picture perfect variation of traditional thrash metal that has no trouble tolerating some well positioned nods towards alternative metal and even classic rock flavors, which though suits these structures pretty efficiently.

Orthodoxy, as sole agenda, and decent-, related song structures are important key factors on the spin. Don't expect the re-invention of the wheel, expect instead another exciting ride in a familiar car on a familiar course. Luckily, there is no need to stick to this metaphor all that much, as the overall flow does a decent job of evading road motor sport thrash metal affectations, and brings that old school-, yet timeless thrash sound that the genre looks the most efficient with to this day.  Read on to know more about the character of the latest to date Testament LP.

Thrash metal can be wild, - thr(e)(a)shold requirement - straightforward AND efficient, but the genre probably is most radiant when it submits to intriguing ornamentics and well thought out sonic landscapes. Though the Dark Roots of Earth record exhibits the delicious tendency to offer superb high frequency detail in the form of top of the food chain lead guitar work pretty frequently, what makes the songs fluent, is the mid-frequency riffcraft that brings elegance and complexity all in the spirit of full capacity Megadeth or the latest to date Kreator.

Amidst the thrash essentials which the album brings with fluent-, dare one say : pseudo-predictable - nevertheless charming - high octane rampancy, the record showcases a variety of surprises and interesting deviations. Titular track, "Dark Roots of Earth" is an example of the alternative metal leanings the disc cultivates : it borders on prime form Alice in Chains, especially during the verses. The chorus, unfortunately, offers a tad more of the cartoon thrash metal feeling than I personally would prefer, yet it also is true that the album has a couple of - not more - especially good thrash hooks in store for the listener. The elongated chorus of track number 5 "A Day in the Death" is a good example. This song represents a tasty intersection of top form Megadeth and, hell, top form Foo Fighters.

The track "Cold Embrace" borders on the verge of an interesting thrash/sludge (!) hybrid with different tempers being incorporated into it, ranging from quite mellow arpeggiated soul-sedation to ballsy mid-tempo intensity. The song reeks the spiritual calibration of Victor Griffin - Pentagram, Place of Skulls - from top to bottom, and sounds to be a pretty colorful and brave addition to this LP : it deviates from the thrash orthodoxies in a way that could be regarded by the thrash aficionado as a sonic sight seeking worth taking between two intense sections - and this is exactly what is happening, indeed.

"Animal Magnetism" is almost epic doom metal in nature. This is the music I'd expect to hear on Candlemass'  in my opinion extremely overrated last LP, and believe me when I say that I find zero enjoyment in the fact that I have to mention the Sweden ensemble in the particular subjective context that I just did.

 I know that there is this song "Powerslave" from Iron Maiden, and Testament offers you a track with the same title, and I'm pretty sure it is not a cover, but I might be wrong about that, and if it indeed is so, than that should be one supremely stellar fail and I invite you to set me on the related trajectory. This "Powerslave" brings all the necessary benchmark-ingredients and affectations of a hard rock epic, - "emence" guitar solo included - and then some more.

By the time of the seventh track, the album already has showcased the set of thrash attractions it aims to bring and administer at face value, making it especially easy to appreciate what is being put in front of you in an orthodox, traditional thrash context, as the content does a particularly decent job of containing the actual song structures in kick-ass instrumental breaks. Like, in the seventh track, "Man Kills Mankind" : while I admit that the song is an acceptable thrash build, I find myself more interested in the ways it deviates from its own central anatomy, as said anatomy itself is "nothing, but" a variation on cartoon thrash metal, designed to make a head bang safely.

The disc is a safe and easy recommendation both for the thrash metal maniac, and for the audiences that crave unusual, but soberly suiting tastes into their metal. The disc also is recommended if you are a James Hetfield fan. I don't know what is up with recent band fronters, but this particular Testament lead vocalist exhibits a huge Hetfield fetish, too. Not a problem. The album is a success and a steady at that when inspected with scientific rigor. It does not exactly steamroll you like Megadeth's stupendous 2009 LP Endgame, but it features quite a mature and exigent take on thrash metal with minimal alibi-antics, while it also reigns free of the nonsense road-motor-sport pinball-metal rhetorics of recent Overkill. On top of that, the package flatters the flow of thrashing with brave and intricate sonic imagination, spoken by the language of infuriated classic rock. Recommended.

Rating : 8.0 / 10

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  1. Of course 'Powerslave' is an Iron Maiden cover version!
    Its a very faithful to the original version, which is just belted out as Eric Peterson is a massive fan of Arry and the boys!

    1. Auuua. Thanks for the info. I fail successfully. I suppose it is a good idea to revisit the original.


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