Written By Jason Voorhees
Welcome to another edition of top album lists! Today we will take a look at another one of thrash's finest.
The bay area bashers Testament have been kicking ass for years while taking countless names at will. While the band is not quite Big 4 level, they truly are the fifth member of thrash metal's elite. In fact, many consider Testament one of the most underrated bands in the entire metal community. They have remained a true model of consistency in a genre that has sometimes become widely inconsistent.
Like many of their peers, Testament has endured its share of ups and downs as well as numerous lineup changes. Consequently, the lone constant member is the band's architect guitarist Eric Peterson. Nonetheless, the group has been able to carve out quite a discography during it's 37 years of existence. In fact, the band just released their 12th studio album this year.
Testament has always brought true intensity in their music no matter what style changes have come about with each successive album release. While they have never produced a truly bad album, this list will be a reflection of their least good to best records of the catalog. So without further ado...we will try to practice what we preach as we travel the dark roots of earth in search of the titans of creation!
12. 'Demonic' (1997)
Recorded during a period of confusion in the thrash metal era, Testament tried to recreate the success of it's predecessor 'Low' on this release. Unfortunately; the record stumbled as it ultimately missed it's mark. As the lineup changes continued, so did the lack of creativity which can almost be expected from a band suffering cohesive constraints. While it's not a terrible record by any stretch of the imagination, it's certainly the band's least memorable effort. The lead track "Demonic Refusal" is a death metal ensemble. While other tracks like "John Doe" and "Distorted Lies" toe the groove and nu-metal lines respectively. Testament can only go up from here.
11. 'Low' (1994)
Testament's answer to grunge was definitely not their low point. However; the album saw a drastic change in sound and style for the band, one that many die hard fans would despise. The departures of long time guitar hero Alex Skolnick and drummer Louie Clemente also ruffled some feathers. Once again, this is definitely a far cry from a bad record; it's just not the kind of album that one would brag to their friends about. Nonetheless, this record does move the needle on sound with it's ultra aggressive pissed off energy. A few standout tracks include the punchy "Hail Mary", the catchy "Low" and the semi ballad "Trail of Tears."
10. 'Brotherhood of the Snake' (2016)
Another lineup change went down here as Steve DiGiorgio joined the fray on bass guitar. A hallmark album of sorts, the band tried to build off the huge success of it's predecessor. The results were widely positive as this record checks off every box on the thrash metal spectrum. All of the signature elements of Testament's greatness find their home here. Tracks like "Brotherhood of the Snake", "Stronghold" and "Pale King" bring the heat. While hidden gems "Black Jack" and Canna-Business" pace the record. The lone pitfall for this album is it's top heavy formula, a little too much filler to be considered great. However; it's great to see Testament embracing their roots once again as they push reset.
9. 'Souls of Black' (1990)
This record suffers many of the same inconsistencies as 'Brotherhood of the Snake.' The top half of the album kicks ass while the second half leaves you scratching your head. This is the cost a band pays when they try to rush through the recording process. Although the record is missing the main ingredient of consistency, it still shows flashes of brilliance. Those moments of clarity certainly help the albums position on this list. "Face In The Sky", "Souls of Black" and "Falling Fast" provide a healthy triumvirate of wrath. While "The Legacy" brings you back to the band's debut dominance! A step up but still not top level.
8. 'Dark Roots of Earth' (2012)
'Dark Roots of Earth' was an emphatic confirmation that the bands successful comeback was no fluke. As the band harkened back to the classic 80's style sound, they undoubtedly channeled their innermost fountain of youth. A brilliant record that captures a band firing on all cylinders. From the gut punching opener "Rise Up", the band establishes that seminal thrash element as they don't look back. "Dark Roots of Earth", "Native Blood", and "True American Hate" scream old school. But it's the epic "Throne of Thorns" that truly defines the albums greatness. Two great covers "Animal Magnetism" and "Powerslave" are also present. Solid record up and down.
7. 'Titans of Creation' (2020)
Honestly this is like a reboot of "Dark Roots of Earth", only on steroids. The band virtually took the same formula they used on that very successful album and just raised the bar. Skolnick and Peterson are masterful as this album contains some of the best dual solos that combination has ever produced! "Children of the Next Level" and "Night of the Witch" could ultimately find their way into the top ten tracks of all-time for Testament; waiting for y'all to scream blasphemy...lol. But no really, this is an excellent album; the band's finest in years! Definitely a titan of the band's discography! Deep cuts galore on this one as well..."False Prophet", "Code of Hammurabi" and "Catacombs" just to name a few.
6. 'The Formation of Damnation' (2008)
The king of all comeback albums for the band. The classic lineup had been reunited and the results were a flat out masterpiece of a record. Not only was most of the original members back in the fold, but they also went back to the thrash style that crowned them pioneers of the thrash movement. After faltering in an ever changing abyss trying their hand in the death metal game; they realized it was thrash that truly earned them their stripes. "More Than Meets The Eye", the Transformers theme based single epitomizes their signature style and tone. However; the album is loaded with deep cut gems that enhance the overall staying power and ultimately cements its place among the bands best!
5. 'The Gathering' (1999)
After a failed reunion attempt, the band instead took the super group avenue instead. Joining vocalist Chuck Billy and guitarist Eric Peterson were James Murphy (Death) on lead guitar, Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus) on bass and Dave Lombardo (Slayer) on drums. With a lineup of some of the best musicians in toe, the band was able to focus once again on diligent songwriting. The album is paced by a clean, crisp, and uncompromising production and tone. Tracks like 'D.N.R', 'Eyes of Wrath', 'True Believer' and 'Legions of the Dark' embody the signature thrash elements while providing a modern day enhancement of flavor. This one really hits hard and remains one of my personal favorites.
4. 'Practice What You Preach' (1989)
Some critics consider this the seminal album of Testament's career and you really can't fault that assumption. The band had matured leaps and bounds from their debut offering and was now firing on every cylinder. However; there is something to be said about those bands that try to go back to the same watering hole one too many times. And that's where this album looses points for me. That repetitive flaw is ever present throughout this record which is almost a mirror image of 'The New Order' in many ways. The record still kicks major ass. Standout tracks include "Practice What You Preach", "Blessed in Contempt", and "The Greenhouse Effect." "The Ballad" provides a new wrinkle of creativity in the arsenal. We have now reached elite.
3. 'The Legacy' (1987)
A stone cold classic here folks. Testament broke onto the scene with this masterful debut which provided the archetypal sound and style for the band in years to come. The only reason that this album is not higher on the list is less than stellar production. However; that raw and unfiltered sound enables the band to bring down the house throughout. The record is littered with timeless classics like "Over The Wall", "Burnt Offerings", "Curse of the Legions of Death," and "Alone in the Dark." While the album features plenty of deep cut royalty as well! Any one of the top three is interchangeable here so this could easily be number one! Phenomenal debut and one of the masterpieces of the catalog.
2. 'The Ritual' (1992)
Many people hate on this record as they loudly yell sell out. However; if one truly listens to the record you soon realize how foolish that narrative really is. This is a solid record from beginning to end. It may be the high point for the band as far as songwriting and musicianship goes. Just because a band takes a mainstream approach does not mean that the results are less than favorable. In fact, that prophesy is usually discredited steadfastly. The mid tempo choruses and toned down riffs actually enhance the albums greatness. So many awesome tracks on this album..."Electric Crown" and "Let Go of My World" embody Testament's signature thrash elements while the amazing "Return to Serenity" marks an advanced songwriting maturity. One step closer to the cream of the crop! Tons of hidden gems here as well!!
1. 'The New Order' (1988)
Sophomore slumps are only for minor league bands. The band was able to build on the success of their debut as this release would carry them to new heights. This is the mount rushmore for Testament simply put...The creme de le creme. The top four tracks provide as fearsome of a foursome that you will find in the entire thrash metal universe. "Eerie Inhabitants", "The New Order", "Trial By Fire" and "Into the Pit" are widely considered the bands greatest tracks of all-time and they all appear on this record! Then add in "Disciples of the Watch" and its a stone cold lock! This is the true Testament of the band's greatness!! "A Day of Reckoning" reminds me of a cross between Metallica and Anthrax. This is plug and play at it's finest folks and the top of the mountain for Testament.
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