DARK ROOTS OF THRASH
On my radio show, THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, we have a long running argument about the Bay Area Thrash bands. We talk about if you could only keep one band's catalog, whose would it be. Would it be Metallica? Megadeth? Or would it be this band, Testament. Certainly there is no denying the greatness of MASTER OF PUPPETS or RUST IN PEACE. But with Testament, you have no ST. ANGER. There is no RISK. There is no sellout period, with the exception of DEMONIC where they sold out to the darker side and took a stab at being heavier than they had been to that point. It's a tough debate, really. While I think I'd still take Metallica based solely on the brilliance of the albums up to and through the Black album, there really is no way you could go wrong with the Testament catalog.
In the live setting, Testament are an untouchable band. Having seen them in front of 15,000 people before as well as having seen them with 200 in front of them in a sweaty club, they deliver one of the most fierce shows any metalhead will ever be graced enough to see. Captured on DARK ROOTS OF THRASH, Testament have delivered what is, definitively, the very best live release of their career. From the opening "Rise Up" through the closing "Disciples Of The Watch", vocalist Chuck Billy and company ravage your ears with a 90 minute assault that is about as stunning as anything a live band can present. For Billy's part, he sounds...well...he sounds like Chuck Billy. While never one of the most dynamic vocalists out there, his sound is genuine and doesn't change from the recorded to the live environment. He sounds great here, destroying early on in the set on songs like "More Than Meets The Eye". He's just one of the great elements here though.
As is always the case with Testament, Billy is but a single element of this band. They are driven by what I would argue is the greatest guitar tandem in the history of heavy metal - Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick. They are absolutely blistering here, both on new material like "True American Hate" as well as their destructive version of "Burnt Offerings". Their sound on DARK ROOTS OF THRASH is so big and full, and they are about as tight as a tandem can possibly be playing together. They are rounded out by a monsterous bottom end comprised of bassist Greg Christian and a guy considered by many as the greatest drummer in metal, Gene Hoglan. Hoglan is particularly vicious throughout, punching up songs like "New Order" and "D.N.R." far past their recorded counterparts.
PITRIFF RATING - 98/100 - This is as good a live release as can possibly be released by a band this heavy. Incredible production is better only by a nearly flawless, spot on performance by all five members of the band. DARK ROOTS OF THRASH is truly an amazing live listen that will only do one of two things for you. It will a. make you glad you saw them on this tour, or b. make you extremely sorry you missed it. Either way, you won't be sorry you purchased this. Incredible.