26 July, 2012

Testament: Dark Roots Of Earth – new album & Native Blood – new video


Unyielding thrash metal titans TESTAMENT are back; ‘Dark Roots Of Earth’ will be released upon Europe tomorrow, July 27th, 2012, and is bound to conquer North American music charts from July 31st, 2012 on, courtesy the band and Nuclear Blast Records. ‘Dark Roots Of Earth’ was produced, mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap, with special bonus tracks recorded, mixed and mastered by Juan Urteaga. The album's impressive artwork was painted by Eliran Kantor. ‘Dark Roots Of Earth’ comes available as a standard jewelcase, as a deluxe digipak CD/DVD (the CD includes covers of QUEEN, SCORPIONS and IRON MAIDEN songs, while the DVD consists of “making of” the album, breakdown of writing style and process, of working with drummer Gene Hoglan, of an overview of the band existence of over 25 years, and of live footage of classic tracks) and as a double LP. Visit TESTAMENT website to hear 90-seconds samples of the entire album here, download yourselves the track ‘True American Hate’ for free here, watch their Mike Sloat-directed video ‘Native Blood’ below, and then buy the album from Nuclear Blast here (Europe) and here (USA):

TESTAMENT: Native Blood – courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records

TESTAMENT: True American Hate – courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records

Surviving lineup changes, label switches and health crises, TESTAMENT formed 29 years ago, in 1983 in Berkeley, California. One of the most popular bands of the 1980s thrash metal scene was conceived by vocalist Steve Souza, guitarists Eric Peterson and Derric Ramirez, bassist Greg Christian, and drummer Louie Clemente. Known as “Legacy” for a couple of years, TESTAMENT replaced Ramirez with guitar wizard Alex Skolnick as well as lost Souza to EXODUS and brought in in his stead Chuck Billy as vocalist, before attracting attention of a record company. The band's debut LP ‘Legacy’ was issued in 1987 through Megaforce Records/Atlantic Records: “Hailed as an instant classic within thrash metal circles,” wrote Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic, “the album's coupling of furious riffs and harmonic sensibility stood second only to METALLICA in controlled power, technical delivery, and sheer confidence.” Next came “every bit as brutally forceful” (as put by Alex Henderson, AllMusic) TESTAMENT's second album ‘The New Order’ in 1988, followed by an “unapologetically abrasive” (Mr. Henderson again) ‘Practice What You Preach’ in 1989. 1990's ‘Souls Of Black’ and 1992's ‘The Ritual’ arrived “by the time grunge had arrived and musical tastes had changed drastically and TESTAMENT were only one of countless casualties whose once highly anticipated albums fell on deaf ears”, as recounted by Eduardo Rivadavia (more here). Skolnick and Clemente left and were replaced by guitarist James Murphy (of DEATH renown) and EXODUS drummer John Tempesta respectively. Their sixth album, ‘Low’, was released in 1994 and “saw the boys from the Bay Area fighting for their lives in the unfriendly surroundings of the alternative nation” (as put by John Franck, AllMusic – more here). Successfully winning the fight, ‘Low’ entered the American albums chart Billboard Top 200 at number 122. Through their own label, Burnt Offerings, TESTAMENT issued their next long-player, 1997's ‘Demonic’, recorded with founding member Derric Ramirez on bass and drummer Gene Hoglan (also of DEATH renown), preceded by compilation album ‘The Best Of Testament’, put forth in 1996 by the band's former label. In 1999 came ‘The Gathering’, another independent release, which gathered mighty talents of vocalist Chuck Billy, guitarists Eric Peterson and James Murphy, bassist Steve DiGiorgio (also of DEATH, CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED etc) and drummer Steve Lombardo (SLAYER, “the human drumming machine himself”):

“Sounding tighter then the previous four releases combined, TESTAMENT has used ‘Demonic’ as the foundation from which they will once again build their metal legacy. The riffs are faster, heavier, and tighter, while the drumming is simple, but at the same time extraordinary (would you expect anything less from Lombardo?). Billy is one of thrash metal's most gifted vocalists. Continuing to expand upon his over the top performance from the last album, Billy demonstrates an aggressive versatility that is unheard of in this genre, as his voice fluctuates from angry to more angry to downright snarling,” [complimented Jason Hundey, AllMusic – more here]

Not long after the release of ‘The Gathering’, dark times fell upon the band; lead guitarist James Murphy was diagnosed with a brain tumor and frontman Chuck Billy was diagnosed with rare type of cancer that affected his lungs and heart. Both were treated successfully and have, thankfully, completely recovered. Reformed, TESTAMENT lineup once again included Alex Skolnick and Steve Souza. Three compilations and a live album, accompanied by DVD (2005's ‘Live In London’) came before TESTAMENT released ‘The Formation Of Damnation’, the first new material album the band recorded since 1999. Featuring vocalist Billy, guitarist Skolnick and Peterson, bassist Greg Christian and drummer Paul Bostaph, the album was issued in 2008 on Nuclear Blast Records:

TESTAMENT: More Than Meets The Eye – courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records

TESTAMENT: Henchmen Ride – courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records

TESTAMENT: F.E.A.R. – courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records

TESTAMENT features: Chuck Billy – vocals, Eric Peterson – guitar, Alex Scolnick – guitar, Greg Christian – bass and Gene Hoglan – drums


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