The Formation of Damnation
8/22/2008 - Review by: Hail and Kill
Forsaking subtlety, 'For the Glory Of' is a smashing overture to announce Testament's masterful comeback. Beginning with the crash of percussion followed by an easy melody, it's a soundtrack for an army of angels emerging from the steel gray heavens to smite mankind. (That's the cover art)
As its introduction fades, 'More Than Meets the Eye' barges in and starts with Chuck Billy's ear catching wails of 'Woahhhh-ooaaahh-oaaahhhhh' before a muscular gallop chugs along and eventually gives way to a delicious solo from Alex Skolnick. It's smartly titled follow up, 'The Evil Has Landed,' is a beefy ode to September 11 where Chuck Billy sings of deconstructed skylines and body counts. When the furious drumbeats of the title track hammer away as the song commences, it proves how incredible a singer Chuck is, as he uses a throaty growl that puts similar practitioners to shame. The awesomely titled 'Dangers of the Faithless' provides mid-tempo fare that could have come from the 'Low' album. In contrast, the frantic 'The Persecuted Won't Forget' displays the band's grasp of complexity. Never losing its momentum, 'Henchmen Ride' can be considered 'Formation's' best-and speediest cut before the chunky war anthem 'Killing Season' and its heartfelt successor, 'Afterlife,' about deceased parents and a very philosophical question, grants momentary anthemic reprieve. On its tail end the album unleashes a final wallop, 'FEAR,' until the whole sonic roller coaster unwinds with the schizophrenic mood swings of 'Leave Me Forever'.
The pizzazz surrounding this record is partially hinged on a 'classic lineup,' which isn't entirely true because it's Paul Bostaph behind the kit. However, among the recent influx of new talent in the band, it's Skolnick who shines the most as he provides the juice to main songwriter Eric Petersen's rhythm. Taking its cue from their most recent work, 'The Formation of Damnation' marries 'The Gathering's left over energy with the nostalgic flavor of 'First Strike Still Deadly'. The final product is, for lack of a better metaphor, a formation of musical damnation. A return-to-form worthy of 'classic' status; the most perfect exercise in Thrash Metal in years; Testament have left their peers behind as they've raised the bar to levels previously unmatched. Listen to this album in its entirety and expect to cream your pants.
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