Album Reviews, Culture, Metal / Hard Rock — August 9, 2012 at 10:35 am

Dark Roots of Earth – Testament


Artist Name: Testament
Title Name: Dark Roots of Earth
Label: Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by: Fabio Marraccini

One of the undisputable leaders of the 80s “bay area” thrash metal* and a very underrated band, Testament are a band that oozes prime musicianship. While their golden ears – and probably most classic releases – are from more than twenty years ago, and while they’ve undeniably lost direction during the nineties when massive trends such as grunge and nu-metal took the world (but primarily their native land America) by assault, the resilient quintet lead by founding member and guitar master Erik Peterson managed to stay alive, re-shaped their line-up, and attacked the new century with full force.

After breaking a nine-year recording hiatus in 2008 with the competent The Formation of Damnation, they return now with an even more daunting masterpiece candidate. Erik is this time surrounded not only by long time singer Chuck Billy and founding member bass player Greg Christian (who re-joined the band in 2004 after an 8-year hiatus) but also by guitar genius Alex Skolnick (who re-joined in 2005) and simply one of the best drummers of all time in any kind of music, Mr. “Atomic Clock” Gene Hoglan – who played with colossal bands such as Dark Angel, Death, Fear Factory and even Testament themselves back in the 90s, amongst others.

The no-frills massacre starts with full speed ahead in “Rise Up”, with catchy riffs and tempo changes going from groovy to neck-breaking and vocal lines that would easily fit Practice What You Preach. “Native Blood” follows the trend, while the title track has more of a heavy ballad feel that gets heavier and heavier as it goes. “True American Hate”, with aggressive lyrics that go without saying, is pure brutality. Hallucinating tempos, thick vocals, mind-blowing riffs… bang that head that doesn’t bang, someone once said. “A Day in the Death” follows with marvellous guitar solos and melodies that only these two axe masters could create, while “Cold Embrace” is a beautifully constructed full-on ballad. The brutality returns with “Man Kills Mankind”, heavy as hell, riffs in your face, drum rolls and turns twisting your neck, chorus tattooed in your brain. “Throne of Thorns” follows with an even more groovy bass driven rhythm and progressive feel, while “Last Stand for Independence” closes this chapter with brutal horse-stampede-like riffs and amazing drum lines.

The final chapter will depend on the market of the release, but the version reviewed here had three cover songs: Dragon Attack (Queen), Animal Magnetism (Scorpions) and Powerslave (Iron Maiden) – all very honest renditions, closed by another version of “A Day in the Death”, this time with Chris Adler (Lamb of God) on Drums. This song, and “True American Hate” were both penned not only by Testament themselves, but also by Steve “Zetro” Souza, that was their singer back in the day when they were still called Legacy, and later rose to fame with bay area peers Exodus.

Dark Roots of Earth is a metal mayhem that will not only please aficionados, but also turn newcomers into fans. Amazing production, out-of-this-Earth musicianship, sheer brutality and catchy melodies prove that bands can age well and deliver gems apt to rub shoulders with their past masterpieces. 

*Note: term that refers to bands originated in cities around the bay between San Francisco and Oakland, in California, United States of America





TESTAMENT – Eric Peterson / Making of: DARK ROOTS OF EARTH


Testament – Dark Roots of Earth on iTunes Australia