Testament - The Gathering review
|Release date:||June 1999|
02. Down For Life
03. Eyes Of Wrath
04. True Believer
05. Three Days In Darkness
06. Legions Of The Dead
07. Careful What You Wish For
08. Riding The Snake
10. Sewn Shut Eyes
11. Fall Of Sipledome
12. Hammer Of The Gods [bonus]
When you come upon such an era that was in the midst of the fires of both revival attempts and modernization, it may occur to you as surprising that a band such as Testament - which was always the first to be affected by outer pressures - released what many fans consider as tying with their best works of all time.
Supporting Chuck and Eric on this album was perhaps an all-star lineup of '90s metal; you had the astounding James Murphy (Death, Obituary) on lead guitars, virtuoso Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Sadus) on bass and the wunderkind, well-known Dave Lombardo (Slayer) on drums. So, from an outer perspective, this looks like a ridiculously high-quality masterpiece, right? A bit wrong, I suppose, if you thought all the creativity of those three was mashed into one. With the support Chuck and Eric had, however, they just managed to fully plunge out the creative ideas they wanted to accomplish; which still resulted in a good output.
"D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)" may have one of the best riffs ever, "Eyes Of Wrath" has a perfect song structure and atmosphere and "True Believer", "3 Days In Darkness" and "Careful What You Wish For" are one of the catchiest, yet darkest stuff one could expect from a thrashing band. Even "Down For Life", which is simplistic, carries a good riff and a personal lyrical subject which deals with the addiction of their former bassist. Performance wise, Lombardo pulls it very well and with complex structures, but DiGiorgio and Murphy are rarely shining out. So, what prevents The Gathering - in my opinion - from being the larger-than-life album that it is being portrayed as?
One thing: inequality in deliverance. Yes, Eric and Chuck are very good writers, but many of this album's potential is wasted when you have two legendary fretboarders that you rarely even utilize. This in itself results in the shallow feeling of the album's songs; many have riffs that repeat a tad more than they should, many are devoid of interesting solos and many are devoid of interesting breakdowns. It's perfection in the eye of a cynic, but never in the eye of a perfectionist. And despite all that daze, it's still damn good. As for the Testament sound, it does a good job in combining their two last albums into one, but is still not as good as Low or any of the first three.
Recommended for all of us who love good riffs, songs to sing along to and badass music, but do not expect a grandiose performance of good musicians, for there's wasted potential here. It's still damn good, I repeat, though.
Highlights: "D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)", "Eyes Of Wrath", "True Believer", "3 Days In Darkness", "Down For Life" and "Riding The Snake".
** For one thing that could possibly attract you to love the whole thing, try bonus track "Hammer Of The Gods".
|In the late 90's a lot of thrash bands called it a day or tried to tailor there sound to accommodate the popular alternative rock craze (that hardly seems alternative does it?).
Testament was one of the glaring exceptions to that trend. Their albums got heavier as the decade progressed. "The Legacy", "The New Order" and "Practice What You Preach" are the early albums that you think the band could never top, but in 1999 Testament released their crowning achievement called "The Gathering".
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