Thursday, September 27, 2012
Initial Impressions: Testament: Dark Roots of Earth
Testament has always been a little bit more politically and socially minded than a lot of other bands. That is not to say that none of their music has dealt with death and destruction or other stereotypical metal topics, but a large amount has been devoted to various current issues. The band has even touched on Chuck Billy's heritage in past songs, in particular "Trail of Tears" on their Low album. On this album, Billy's Native American heritage is a common theme, complete with a rather powerful video for first single "Native Blood".
Musically, this is bottom-end heavy, grooving thrash metal, the kind that Testament has perfected over the years. Once the band stopped trying to be a clone of other thrash metal bands and found their own sound, they have never really looked back, other than a couple of albums where they experimented with death metal. This is the sound present here and, if anything, Testament has further tightened their sound. The last album had a few missteps on it, but those have been mostly eliminated on this one.
The band does a decent job of keeping things interesting, as they always have. Ballads have been a strong point for Testament over the years with "The Ballad" and of course my favorite song of all time "Return to Serenity". Another ballad appears here with "Cold Embrace". It is another triumphant, powerful track.
The limited edition, which is the one that I have also features covers of songs from Queen, Scorpions, and Iron Maiden. Kind of an eclectic mix, but very interesting. The Maiden track in particular is done quite well despite the fact that Billy does not have anywhere close to the same type of voice as Bruce Dickinson.
This is yet another very strong album from Testament. As I mentioned before, I am a huge fan of the band. I think this is one of their best efforts in a very long time.