A fantastic album for new listeners and established fans alike.
Testament are undoubtedly the fifth member of the big four and the only ones not to have fallen prey to whims in production and style. 'Dark Roots Of Earth' conforms to the high standards set by their previous efforts and while staying true to the Testament formula, provides another collection of great songs with new depths and textures.
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If you own 'Formation Of Damnation' then you know what to expect. There are some departures in style but nothing seasoned fans will find alien as the band weave in previously trodden paths and influences.
The opener is a rip roaring frantic assemblage of top paced guitar riffery that will entertain even the most resistant listener. For me it set a smile on my face and set me up for an album showcasing sparkling talent and exceptional songs.
Sections reminiscent of Megadeth and Iron Maiden crop up and stamp through your preconceptions as you realise Testament were there to stake their claim as the source of those Thrash and Metal influences.
Eric Peterson's rhythm work is good enough to rival even Scott Ian. Alex Skolnick's leadwork is as infuriatingly perfect as you would expect from someone that has spent the last couple of decades teaching Metal guitarists how to play.
The injured Paul Bostaph has been replaced by the returning Gene Hoglan although you would be hard pressed to tell from listening.
The album is produced by Andy Sneap so the sound is huge, tight, involving and transparent. The songs are perfect in construction. The only thing that stands out is one passage of singing that doesn't come across as up to X-Factor standards.
If you've missed out on the relentless thrash phenomena that is Testament, go and buy this album. For existing fans, 'Dark Roots Of Earth' is another investment in aural pleasure.