Testament

Dark Roots of Earth

01. Rise Up
02. Native Blood
03. Dark Roots of Earth
04. True American Hate
05. A Day In The Death
06. Cold Embrace
07. Man Kills Mankind
08. Throne of Thorns
09. Last Stand For Independence

[07/31/12]
[Nuclear Blast]

Testament were always one of those bands that I was aware of, but never really got around to listening to very heavily. I have owned a few of their records for quite some time and they’re not collecting dust by any means; I’m just never in a Testament mood anymore. Needless to say by virtue of that introduction, Dark Roots of Earth has remedied me of my usual nonchalant attitude toward the band.

Before you wonder if the record is going to be nearly as heavy as expected, ‘Rise Up‘ will punch you square in the nose and let you know how dumb you’re being. The song kicks off the album with such an unbelievable, undeniable presence that only gets stronger as the track wears on. Chuck Billy even lets a few straight-up death growls go in the gang-like chants of “War!” in the chorus, which is a perfect coupling for the downright mental speed of Gene Hoglan. Alex Skolnick is in on the effort as well with all types of face-melting guitar work. The energy keeps up consistently through the record, so the fears of that fire burning out quickly can be tossed out the window.

Dark Roots of Earth isn’t just a record that thrashes wildly for nearly an hour without relent, either. Songs like the title track and ‘Cold Embrace‘ aren’t afraid to explore much cleaner, spacious areas, while ‘A Day In The Death‘ ventures way out into a very groove-oriented place — so groove oriented that Chris Adler of Lamb of God took a mighty swing at the drums for an iTunes bonus track. One of the best tracks on the album, ‘True American Hate,’ is essentially Testament doing their best death metal impression with a little bit of a hardcore feel in the verses. Around the 1:15 mark, Gene unleashes what can only be described as a blast beat that would make Francesco Paoli of Fleshgod Apocalypse sweat. If there’s a song that’ll get you ready for the gym, sports event, or work up the energy to get off your ass to go get some food, then here it is. Brutal.

Overall there’s really no counterbalance to all the good things to say about Dark Roots of Earth. Testament covered a lot of ground with this record and did so masterfully, all while retaining the classic Testament sound that their fans have come to love over the past 25 years. The record is laid out in a way where energy builds and builds, then slows down to a darker place, only to come back more ferocious than the last. If you’re not looking for a neck brace, heating pad and some Tylenol by the end of this record, then you’re just not doing it right. Dark Roots of Earth deserves your stereo’s full volume, your full attention and copious amounts of head banging! Don’t let them down.

Testament – Dark Roots of Earth gets…

4.5/5

– GK

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