DARK ROOTS OF EARTH
Without question, Testament is one of my favorite bands of all time. In my mind, they really are yet to do a bad album, even in the wake of health scares, hiatuses and a seemingly endless see of lineup changes. While they have missed the mark on occasion (ELECTRIC CROWN, DEMONIC), their bad albums are still a quality listen! As for their great ones, well they are as good or better than anything in the history of Thrash Metal. A few years ago, they stormed back onto the metal scene with the brilliant release THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION, and for that reason alone, expectations were sky high for this new disc. For the most part, they deliver once again...although without the immediate punch that past records have featured from the opening seconds of a listen.
DARK ROOTS OF EARTH is an album for Testament that finds them maybe trying a bit too hard to sound like their past at times, while at other times showing a bit of age and wear around the edges. That starts with vocalist Chuck Billy. While he does sound pretty damn good throughout, there are moments like on "Native Blood" where his roar is not quite as ferocious as on past releases. Again, this is not hideous at all, but it's certainly not the blistering punch in the mouth you normally get from Billy.
The same can be said of legendary guitarist Alex Skolnick and the longtime counterpart to him in Testament, Eric Peterson. It's again not that they sound bad at all, but they both bring a lot more of a rock influence to many of the tracks than a true thrasher vibe like in the old days. Maybe that's just a sign of maturity. Still, their guitars are thick and beefy on the slow "Dark Roots Of Earth". They are countered brilliantly throughout by bassist Greg Christian and and the ultimate of all drummers, Gene Hoglan.
PITRIFF RATING - 81/100 - Where THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION was brilliant, DARK ROOTS OF EARTH is pretty much a normal "good". If you liked them in the past, there's nothing here at all to deter you from buying it, and it's almost a guarantee that you will enjoy it. But if you were like me expecting it to really build on the brutality of DAMNATION, you may come away a little disappointed at first. I like it, but don't love it. 'Nuff said!