Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 50: Testament: Low

What a great album this was, despite the massive change in sound. Testament started off as a run-of-the-mill thrash metal band from the Bay Area, sounding a lot like other bands from the same scene: Metallica, Exodus, Heathen, and Dark Angel. In the late 1980's they started experimenting with some more melodic, progressive music. Most of the thrash metal elements were gone. Testament was never really much more than a second (or third) tier thrash metal band. Despite all of that though, they were one of my favorite bands.

Then this album came out and it blew everyone away. This is quite possibly Testament's best album. It features a return to thrash metal, with elements of Pantera-style groove metal and even some death metal elements. The music is incredible and the musicianship is top-notch. Alex Skolnick was no longer with the band at this time, replaced by extreme metal mercenary James Murphy, who also did time in Death. The drums were capably handled by John Tempesta who would also handle those duties with White Zombie a short time later. Despite this, the music is incredibly tight.

The songs are great, featuring barn-burners like "Low" and "Hail Mary". It also includes the death metal-tinged "Dog Faced Gods" and bass solo "Urotsukidoji". This was an early favorite album when I was still buying cassettes because of its extreme sound and heavy riffs. It is still probably my favorite Testament album. It also remains proof that the mid 1990's featured some great metal albums despite popular conception.

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