Testament released one of the best albums of their career in 2008 with The Formation of Damnation, and the ensuing tour was the stuff of legend. I saw them on four different occasions (8/08, 10/08, 8/10, 11/11), three of which were tight 45 minute openers, and finally a co-headlining gig with Anthrax at the Paramount in Huntington, NY, which is also where brand new live CD/DVD Dark Roots of Thrash was recorded. Now I was VERY happy to get to see one of the world’s greatest thrash bands FOUR times in a span of three years, but I began to wonder if such a long time on the road would take its toll creatively. Well, my fears were somewhat justified, because the next studio record, Dark Roots of Earth while very good, just didn’t measure up to the power and fury of Formation. With that said, I was still excited for a 2-CD live set from the Bay Area boys because, let’s face it, you really can’t go wrong with Testament live. So let’s get into it:
After the intro, the band comes out swingin’ with “Rise Up”, and “More Than Meets the Eye”, before reaching back for some “Burnt Offerings” off the debut album The Legacy from way back in ’87. Everyone sounds great, Chuck Billy’s voice is in top form, and Gene “Atomic Clock” Hoglan lives up to his billing behind the drums, knocking down walls with his double bass attack on songs like “Native Blood” and “True American Hate” two of the best from the latest studio record. Oldies but thrashies “Into the Pit” and “Practice What You Preach” still burn with the same fire as when they were first unleashed upon the thrash metal community, and are the perfect pair to close out Disc One.
Had enough yet? Didn’t think so. We open up Disc Two with “Riding the Snake” from 1999’s highly-acclaimed The Gathering. Before this tour I hadn’t heard this song in years, and was pleasantly surprised when they played it. The tune also sounds fucking KILLER with Hoglan on the drums, no disrespect to Dave Lombardo. A second Gathering song appears next, “Eyes of Wrath”, and is badass also. I was certainly inspired to throw that album on after this one to keep the thrash train rollin’. Perennial fan favorite “Trial By Fire” is next followed by “The Haunting”. Man, there is nothing like hearing these old songs still being played with such intensity in 2013, especially “The New Order” from my favorite album of the same name. If you haven’t seen Testament live yet, I don’t know what the hell you’re waiting for.
Of course, no Testament show would be complete without “D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)”. Hell, I think the place might break out into a full-blown riot if they didn’t play it most nights. One more from The Gathering in “Three Days In Darkness” before the band fires its final salvo, starting with “The Formation of Damnation”, and culminating in the punch-kick combo of “Over the Wall” and finally, “Disciples of the Watch”, my all-time favorite Testament song. Bassist Greg Christian even goes off on this one, complementing the amazing guitar work of Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson, and the show ends with a Sonic Wall of Death, crushing the skulls of everyone in attendance! As I write this I am gearing up for my SEVENTH Testament gig tonight, and I cannot wait. If you’re unable to catch this thrash-fest in person, this is the next best thing. Go get it!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Disciples of the Watch”, “More Than Meets the Eye”, “Rise Up”, “Riding the Snake”, “Into the Pit”