Testament - The Gathering review
|Release date:||June 1999|
02. Down For Life
03. Eyes Of Wrath
04. True Believer
05. Three Days In Darkness
06. Legions Of The Dead
07. Careful What You Wish For
08. Riding The Snake
10. Sewn Shut Eyes
11. Fall Of Sipledome
12. Hammer Of The Gods [bonus]
In the late 90's a lot of thrash bands called it a day or tried to tailor there sound to accommodate the popular alternative rock craze (that hardly seems alternative does it?).
Testament was one of the glaring exceptions to that trend. Their albums got heavier as the decade progressed. "The Legacy", "The New Order" and "Practice What You Preach" are the early albums that you think the band could never top, but in 1999 Testament released their crowning achievement called "The Gathering".
I almost feel guilty that I am not able to say that my favorite Testament album is one with the original line up, which included one of my favorite guitarists (Alex Skolnick), but the remaining members trumped everything on this one.
By 1999 there had been several line up changes to Testament. All that was left from those early albums were Chuck Billy and Eric Peterson. On "The Gathering" they brought in a once in a lifetime group of players that lived up to their individual abilities. James Murphy (Death and Obituary) who had recorded with the band previously was on lead guitar. He was joined by Steve DiGiorgio (Death and Sadus) on bass and Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Grip, Inc. and Fantomas) on drums.
Putting this kind of talent together usually doesn't flesh out, but on "The Gathering" Testament sounded like a real band. They sounded as hungry as a band that was recording their first album, but had the benefit of being technically advanced in both production and performance. The album is a straight ahead pummeling groove.
There is no old school thrash shredding on this album. They are too busy knocking your head off with the catchiest riffs and songs ever to be recorded on an album this heavy.
On the previous album ("Demonic") Chuck Billy's vocals can easily be classified as death metal. On "The Gathering" he pulls it back just a bit and comes across as even more menacing. His performance is heavier than hell. No other singer in the thrash genre will ever match his range.
Several songs have very short atmospheric sections ("D.N.R.", "Eyes of Wrath", "True Believer"), which add to the depth of the songs. These moments are like the hammer being cocked before the trigger is pulled.
The album comes out firing furiously on the first several tracks and gives way to "3 Days in Darkness", which is plodding and heavy, before ripping into "Legions of the Dead". "Riding the Snake" offers a lot of twists and turns and the momentum doesn't let up until the last second of "Fall of Sipledome" fades away.
Highlights of the album include "D.N.R. - Do Not Resuscitate", "True Believer", "Legions of the Dead" and "Careful What You Wish For".
In 1999 when other thrash bands released albums accompanied by orchestras (Metallica), miserable attempts at commercial acceptance (Megadeth) and greatest hits albums (Anthrax) Testament put this monster of an album out.
|When you come upon such an era that was in the midst of the fires of both revival attempts and modernization, it may occur to you as surprising that a band such as Testament - which was always the first to be affected by outer pressures - released what many fans consider as tying with their best works of all time.
Supporting Chuck and Eric on this album was perhaps an all-star lineup of '90s metal; you had the astounding James Murphy (Death, Obituary) on lead guitars, virtuoso Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Sadus) on bass and the wunderkind, well-known Dave Lombardo (Slayer) on drums. So, from an outer perspective, this looks like a ridiculously high-quality masterpiece, right? A bit wrong, I suppose, if you thought all the creativity of those three was mashed into one. With the support Chuck and Eric had, however, they just managed to fully plunge out the creative ideas they wanted to accomplish; which still resulted in a good output.
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