Testament - The Gathering
Spitfire Records
Thrash Metal
11 songs (42:37)
Release year: 1999
Testament, Spitfire Records
Reviewed by Dylan
Archive review
Out of all the American thrash bands in the 80’s, whether part of the big four or tucked away in the underground, Testament seems to have faired the best in the trying 1990’s, consistently churning out releases of high quality, with (arguably) only one dud in The Ritual. Souls of Black was a fantastic thrash album, rivaling The New Order in songwriting skill and accessability. Low was quite different from it’s slower, more accessible older brother, The Ritual. It was the first in a series of albums that would lean to a more groove-oriented, aggressive sound. Bordering on death metal numerous times, Demonic received a mixed reaction from fans; some who said that the band had abandoned their thrash roots and changed their style. However, The Gathering was an excellent combination of the old-school thrash the band was known for, and the more modern aggression they had experimented with in the mid 90’s.

While nearly all of the old thrash bands have gone though extensive line-up changes, Testament was no different. Vocalist Chuck Billy and guitarist Eric Peterson have been with the band since their debut, and were the driving forces behind some of the band’s best songs. This album had a unique lineup, and one that would never be replicated again. With Dave Lombardo (I don’t think I have to tell you what band he was in…) on drums and one of metal’s best bassists, Steve Digiorgio, coming together to form an all-star rhythm section, the overall picture is completed by ex-Death guitarist James Murphy filling in on lead duties. The result is absolutely great, as the opener D.N.R. soon reveals. An eerie opening soon gives way to a driving riff that thrashes all over the place. Billy’s deep, gruff voice soon pushes the aggression up another notch, and Lombardo’s drumming sounds as solid as ever. The song maintains it’s speed throughout and was the perfect choice for an opener. Down For Life is equally thrash, and has an excellent verse that demands head-banging to ensue. Eyes of Wrath, True Believer, and Riding The Snake make up the slower songs of the album, reminiscent of The Ritual, but with more aggression in their development. The award for most anthemic song on the album belongs to Careful What You Wish For. Singing along to Billy’s astute observation that “We live in a fucked up world” makes for one hell of a great chorus.

Sewn Shut Eyes shows off Billy’s version of a gruff death metal growl, and contains a solid series of riffs. Finally, the albums closer, Fall of Sipledome does something that few closing tracks manage to do, and that is rival and possibly surpass the opening song in terms of energy and aggression. It’s almost like the band wrote two songs that would be great openers, but put them on opposite ends of the same album. One of the fastest tracks on the albums, it’s chorus has deliciously heavy tremolo riffing and great rhythmic groove. The verse thrashes all over the place, and there is also a 2 minute breakdown that features an interesting solo by Murphy, only to return to the same speed the song began with.

Instrumentally, all these guys are veterans at what they do, and it shows. Billy’s voice alternates between gruff shouts, a few death growls, and his signature style of aggressive singing. Digiorgio’s bass sounds nice and thick, but he holds back a little more on his crazy fretless runs than he is known to do, opting for locking in with Lombardo’s very mature drumming to keep things from getting distracting. Guitarists Peterson and Murphy both rip the shit out of this album with their excellent, thrashing riffs that are easy for the listener to grab a hold of. Every song on here is crafted very well and posses their own identity within the context of the album.

Testament has yet to release an LP of brand new material since The Gathering, due to various reasons, namely Chuck Billy’s long, but victorious battle with cancer putting things on a bit of a hiatus. I’m very anxious to see what the band will do next, and see how they can improve upon the quality they displayed with The Gatheirng. This album is a must for any fan of thrash, or aggressive metal in general. It’s aggressive, energetic, well-played, consistent metal that is just plain enjoyable to listen to.
Killing Songs :
All, but D.N.R. and Fall of Sipledome are fantastic.
Dylan quoted 93 / 100
Aleksie quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Testament that we have reviewed:
Testament - Souls of Black reviewed by Bar and quoted 80 / 100
Testament - Demonic reviewed by Bar and quoted 68 / 100
Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
Testament - The Ritual reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
Testament - The New Order reviewed by Tyler and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 10 reviews click here
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