TESTAMENT — Dark Roots Of Earth

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TESTAMENT - Dark Roots Of Earth cover
4.20 | 40 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 2012

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Rise Up (4:18)
2. Native Blood (5:21)
3. Dark Roots of Earth (5:45)
4. True American Hate (5:26)
5. A Day in the Death (5:38)
6. Cold Embrace (7:46)
7. Man Kills Mankind (5:06)
8. Throne of Thorns (7:05)
9. Last Stand for Independence (4:43)

Total Time 51:08

10. Dragon Attack (Queen cover)*
11. Animal Magnetism (Scorpions cover)*
12. Powerslave (Iron Maiden cover)*
13. Throne Of Thornes (extended version)*
+ Bonus DVD

* bonus track


- Chuck Billy / Vocals
- Alex Skolnick / Lead guitar
- Eric Peterson / Rhythm guitar
- Greg Christian / Bass
- Gene Hoglan / Drums

About this release

Release Date: July 30, 2012 (July 31 for North America)
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Produced, mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap.
CD/DVD and vinyl versions available with bonus tracks.
Bonus tracks recorded, mixed and mastered by Juan Urteaga at Trident Studios.
Cover art by Eliran Kantor.

Thanks to Stooge for the addition and UMUR, diamondblack, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Testament's latest album might slip into being samey at points - more or less all songs take exactly the same aggressive, defiant tone, and with only a few exceptions (like the comparatively complex Throne of Thorns) they do tend to sound like each other a bit, but that's broadly forgivable when the sound they offer up ticks all the boxes on the thrash checklist with such panache. I'm reminded of a more aggressive classic-era Metallica, or perhaps a more progressively-minded Slayer; either way, it's more confirmation in my mind that latter-day Testament's releases are actually even better than their much-praised older material.
"Dark Roots Of Earth" is the 10th full-length studio album by US thrash metal act Testament. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in July 2012. After a longer recording break, which was due to lead vocalist Chuck Billy´s cancer disease and long recovery process, Testament returned in 2008 with "The Formation of Damnation". It wasn´t just a comeback album, it was also an album that saw Chuck Billy and Eric Peterson (Rhythm guitars) reunite with original members Alex Skolnick (lead guitars) and Greg Christian (bass), who had both been out of the band for a number of years. The band drafted seasoned thrash metal veteran Paul Bostaph (Slayer, Forbidden, Exodus) to play the drums on "The Formation of Damnation (2008)". Paul Bostaph has been replaced by the equally seasoned veteran Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Strapping Young Lad, Death, Fear Factory) on "Dark Roots Of Earth" but otherwise the lineup that recorded "The Formation of Damnation (2008)" is intact.

The music on "Dark Roots Of Earth" is unmistakably the sound of Testament. Hard pumped and heavy thrashy riffing, sublime and sophisticated guitar solos by Alex Skolnick and raw, sometimes melodic and at times almost semi-growling vocals by Chuck Billy. The change on the drummer potition gives the music a slightly different flow. While Paul Bostaph is a skilled drummer I prefer Gene Hoglan´s drumming style over his. Probably a bit controversial to some, Gene Hoglan plays a few blast beats on the album. I think it´s only healthy for the variation of the album and it shows that even though Testament pretty much stick to their guns and their "core" sound, they are not afraid to try new things if they fit their music.

Tracks like "Rise Up", "Native Blood" and "Man Kills Mankind" are examples of the well oiled thrash metal machine that is Testament anno 2012 (the brilliant title track deserves a mention too), but the band have also found room for a power ballad type track in "Cold Embrace", where Chuck Billy shows that he can sing melodic too. The general quality of the material is high throughout though.

"Dark Roots Of Earth" features a fat, warm and poweful sound production courtesy of Andy Sneap (Nevermore, Kreator, Arch Enemy...among others). Sneap has created a sound that suits the music perfectly.

I haven´t always praised Testament as much as they probably deserve, but "Dark Roots Of Earth" is hard not to like. It´s a high quality thrash metal album, loaded with powerful and raw thrash metal tracks, but maybe more importantly it´s a memorable album where the tracks stick in your head long after the album is over. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
Dark Roots Of Earth is the tenth full-length studio album by the legendary San Franciscan Bay Area Thrash Metal band Testament. It was released on Nuclear Blast in the summer of 2012, following up 2008's critically acclaimed The Formation Of Damnation album. Like that album and indeed also its 1999 predecessor, The Gathering, the album was produced by the famous British producer Andy Sneap.

There was a bit of background intrigue regarding the album's drummer in as much as that although the excellent and underrated Paul Bostaph was still a member of the band just before the time of the album's writing, due to an injury, the drums on the album where actually played by another former Testament band member (and member or contributor with dozens of respected and influential bands) Gene Hoglan. Consequently the album has quite a different feel, as far as the drumming goes, to The Formation Of Damnation.

Interestingly, the band also worked with Lamb Of God's Chris Addler on this record, but his tracks didn't end up on the standard version of the album, although his version of the track `A Day In Death' can be bought separately online.

Stylistically speaking, Dark Roots Of Earth very much continues in the path set by the previous two Testament albums, mixing elements of their classic Thrash sound with some elements of their more Death Metal influenced mid period, toned down. The result is an album that has songs with the occasional use of Death-vocals like 1997's Demonic album, sharing song-time with melodic singing and guitar harmonies like 1989's Practice What You Preach album, as well as the somewhat controversial new usage of Blast Beats. This pretty much creates a best-of-both-worlds scenario for fans of the band's entire catalogue.

The main body of the album however is made up of speedy double-kicks, chugging low-pitched guitars and mostly shouted vocals, punctuated frequently by Alex Skolnick's and Eric Peterson's creative leads and solos. So, effectively it pretty much embodies the classic Bay Area Thrash sound, but in a way which still comes across as fresh and modern primarily through the excellent production job and the surprising amount of melody in the songwriting.

There are also a couple of tracks, including the Title Track and the semi-ballad `Cold Embrace' which try other ideas and styles as well, which adds a touch of variety to the album, breaking up the stream of faster pounding numbers and allowing it to flow well from beginning to end.

Highlights include the catchy opener `Rise Up,' the catchy single `True American Hate' and the aforementioned semi-ballad `Cold Embrace.'

At the end of the day, its going to be down to personal preference how much you enjoy the album and where it fits in the band's catalogue. Some people will find it a little too modern and some people won't find it light and melodic enough. Some people would prefer if Louie Clemente or Paul Bostaph had been on it and some people just don't like modern production at all. If any of these things sound like how your mind usually works then this might be one to skip but it's definitely a personal-preference issue if you dislike the record rather than any inherent lack of quality.

What can't really be argued is that the band have put in a tremendous amount of care and effort into crafting this album and care has been taken to mix old-school and modern styles to keep things fresh. It isn't just formulaic and it isn't just phoned-in and I personally enjoy it a great deal. Due to the album's very high anticipation level and all the excitement surrounding it, I'm not sure at this point if the album will retain all of its potency with the passage of time or how much respect the fans will give it two or three albums down the line, but it certainly leaves an incredibly strong first impression right now and is far, far from a disappointment or let down.

Overall; Dark Roots Of Earth is an excellent and enjoyable fifty-minute album. Fans of Testament should check out the album, especially if they already enjoyed the previous album; fans of Thrash should check out the album, especially if they like the excellent renaissance its been enjoying in recent years as classic bands either reform or release their best albums since the eighties and in fact, fans of Metal in general who for some reason haven't yet explored Testament should consider at least checking out this album if they have the time and money to take a shot on it.

***If you chose to get the special edition version, you can enjoy four bonus tracks, including an extended version of `Throne Of Thrones,' as well as the Queen cover `Dragon Attack,' the Scorpions cover `Animal Magnetism' and the Iron Maiden cover `Powerslave.'

Furthermore, you get a DVD featuring a making-of documentary, and although the band did give away most of the footage in free webisodes prior to the album's release if you haven't seen them then its certainly worth watching. ***

Members reviews

I have always considered Testament as one of my top 3 thrash metal bands. I have been waiting for a long time for this album from them. My first listen and I was astonished at the musicianship these guys have brought on this record. Simply amazing guitar work and the drumming and vocals are outstanding. True American Hate is a standout on this one while Dark Roots Of Earth is very reminiscent to songs from Practice What You Preach album. All Testament fans should rejoice in what I would consider their best effort since Souls Of Black. I am a very happy fan as I think this album will stand the test of time and be considered one of the top Thrash albums of all time.

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