Review: Testament - Dark Roots of Earth
The genre title that is "speed metal" never really have that solid a focus and never really received any bands that stuck to any kind of principles surrounding the title, but Testament effortlessly manage to emphasise why such a title existed. The kinetic levels of energy that build up Native Blood and True American Hate suggest just as frenetic a performance from the band as it was on 1987's The Legacy. Every drum fill from band-hopper and fellow metal icon Gene Holgan really spikes up the intensity and further cements the tightness within the band's groove.
At this point, you realise that with a band like Testament, the tightness of their performance is the key issue and on this album, their efforts are honed to perfection as the fitting of all the parts really beefs up their performance that obviously supports Chuck Billy's eclectic performance that once more fully unleashes his gripping range of death growls. And their characteristic tightness can be found outwith the annihilating thrash assaults as well. The bleak balladry of Cold Embrace is entirely heart-wrenching and whilst the outbursts of bitterness and despair ooze out, the heaviness of the band behind Billy's fury is what elevates it. However, the best use of the power of the metallic groove comes out on Throne of Thorns, which truly sees Peterson put his Iommi head on to astonishing effect. Songs that naturally cause headbanging without expecting aren't always easy to come across, but that one's different.
My main thoughts on reflection obviously comes down to the level of tightness and the kind of bleak nihilism packed into their songs that makes it entirely gripping. Yet as dark as Dark Roots of Earth is, it's just as fun as it is despair-fueled. Anyone that considers themselves a skilled air-guitarist or air-drummer will find a lot of new source material, while the intensity throughout the album requires more depth than many fellow thrash contemporaries. This is an album that shows modern thrash at it's best musically and in a more emotional way. Testament really should be part of the Big 4. We don't need Metallica. They have Orion Music festival. They could make their own Big 4 group with the Arctic Monkeys, Fucked Up and The Black Dahlia Murder. Or not.
Testament's Dark Roots of Earth is out now via Nuclear Blast. The band will play at Bloodstock Open Air Festival at Catton Hall, Walton On Trent on 11th August.