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Testament - Reissues album review

Victories snatched from the jaws of defeat

Testament’s post-2005 career upswing appears all the sweeter when cast against the blows they suffered during the previous decade, label and line-up woes almost insignificant compared to Chuck Billy (vocals) and thenguitarist James Murphy (Death, Obituary) battling cancer. These five albums, largely overlooked at the time, merit their reissue second shot.

Live At The Fillmore (710), from 2005, is a rare document of the Low (1994) era, with the new line-up proving their worth with choice songs from that record and highlights from the original band’s catalogue, and Murphy rising to the onerous task of replacing Alex Skolnick.

1977’s Demonic (710) is not for the faint-hearted. Pushing the death-metal dabbling of Low to the fore, it’s characterised by brutal riffs and Billy’s bowelloosening vocals, a large proportion of which are in rabid cookie monster style, although cleaner tones prevail on John Doe and Hatred’s Rise, both of which could grace a band ‘best of’.

The Gathering (1999, 810), featuring guest drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer), stands tall alongside Testament’s more lauded records, the strength of material underlined by the inclusion of three songs from it on the 2014 live set The Dark Roots Of Thrash.

2001’s First Strike Still Deadly (810) wraps re-recorded early faves (two with original vocalist Steve Souza, all with Alex Skolnick) in a heavier Andy Sneap production to powerful effect, and Live At Eindhoven ’87 (2009, 710) expands their popular 80s EP to full album length, capturing the band on the very cusp of their breakthrough.