Rating:
7.0
Testament - Souls Of Black
24 September 1990


01. Beginning Of The End
02. Face In The Sky
03. Falling Fast
04. Souls Of Black
05. Absence Of Light
06. Love To Hate
07. Malpractice
08. One Man's Fate
09. The Legacy
10. Seven Days Of May


The saying goes between us Testament fans, "If you've heard the title track and the ballad, you can forget the rest of Souls Of Black." Well, not really, as I just invented that, but it's fitting and saddening at the same time. A lot of the songs have potential but if you ever thought Practice What You Preach was cheesy, then avoid this like the plague; for this is worse, unorganized cheese. However, if you seek to find the good stuff in every album, you might as well have a fun time here.

The feel and the lyrical subject is more of the same, it picks up from where its predecessor left off. Political injustice, fighting the system, and all that the band has gone through when they were attempting to send a message rather than sing about demons and rituals all the time. Yet you know this message gets more than tired on here when there's a song complaining about how hospitals rip you off ("Malpractice"). The vocals are the same tone throughout except for the ballad, "The Legacy", which is a more than decent work. Alex seems to deliver most of his guitar experimentation on the solos here and does an amazing job and a shift of quality between verses and solos, but Eric, however, is recycling a LOT from The Legacy and The New Order and using it again.

The choruses, however, had to be catchy. Yes, they had to be, because this was aiming for catchy, thrashy rock. "Falling Fast", "Face In The Sky", "Souls Of Black", "Malpractice" and "Seven Days Of May" all have choruses that can get stuck in your mind from the first listen. Yet the riffs are null. Zero. The only time I felt variation in the guitar tone was when Louie changed his drum patterns a bit (such as in "Absence Of Light"). Despite all the bad cheese here, however, some stuff had to shine out, as this is Testament and you expect nothing less. The title track is one of their best works and so is "The Legacy".

Given the time, the production, and a rest from four albums being released year-after-year, this could've been pretty much decent. However, lost in the songwriting rush and commercial heading they were going through, it failed miserably. The only thing that gives this album a tinge of respect from me is the title track, "Falling Fast" and that damn ballad. The rest is to be avoided.

Highlights: "Souls Of Black", "Falling Fast" and "The Legacy". (Guess I've already made this statement too many times)

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Band profile: Testament
Album: Souls Of Black


 


written by Iron Nostarion | 20.05.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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musclassia - 20.05.2012 at 15:44  
I agree with the score, give or take a couple tenths, although the tone of the review is more negative than I would be. The title track was my first encounter with Testament and subsequently made this the first album of their's I got, so I feel a bit different about it than the rest of the testament albums, but I very, very rarely return to the album compared to it's 3 predecessors, or the likes of Low or Formation of Damnation. I agree with the highlights, bar replacing Falling Fast with Face in the Sky, but I don't think the rest of the songs are all that bad. I can easily listen to the likes of One Man's Fate and Malpractice if they come up in shuffle; it's just when all the songs come together in one album, they lack the overall interest factor to make you want to the whole thing in one sitting.
Tbh pretty similar to my feelings towards The Ritual - enjoyable songs on their own but too much effort to listen to as a whole album. Those two and Demonic (my least favourite) are a couple of steps lower on the quality ladder than the rest of their stuff. Nevertheless, the title track and The Legacy by themselves justify its presence in my music library.
Iron Nostarion - 20.05.2012 at 15:51  
Written by musclassia on 20.05.2012 at 15:44

I agree with the score, give or take a couple tenths, although the tone of the review is more negative than I would be. The title track was my first encounter with Testament and subsequently made this the first album of their's I got, so I feel a bit different about it than the rest of the testament albums, but I very, very rarely return to the album compared to it's 3 predecessors, or the likes of Low or Formation of Damnation. I agree with the highlights, bar replacing Falling Fast with Face in the Sky, but I don't think the rest of the songs are all that bad. I can easily listen to the likes of One Man's Fate and Malpractice if they come up in shuffle; it's just when all the songs come together in one album, they lack the overall interest factor to make you want to the whole thing in one sitting.
Tbh pretty similar to my feelings towards The Ritual - enjoyable songs on their own but too much effort to listen to as a whole album. Those two and Demonic (my least favourite) are a couple of steps lower on the quality ladder than the rest of their stuff. Nevertheless, the title track and The Legacy by themselves justify its presence in my music library.


Pretty much my feelings about this, and yes, "Face In The Sky" is pretty much the same quality of "Falling Fast". In fact I mix between them because the vocals are identical. Though, you gotta bear with me, my first encounter was The New Order and thus it was pretty much a quality hop to the gutter after listening to this as my last Testament album (yes, I've heard all the good ones before it).
musclassia - 20.05.2012 at 16:36  
Yeah, I can understand going from Into The Pit to some of this stuff is a definite drop-off ha
Unhealer - 21.05.2012 at 03:27  
Good one, agree with the review. I would have given it more of a 7.5 though. And you said it like three times, but yeah, the title track and "The Legacy" are amazing songs.
Iron Nostarion - 21.05.2012 at 14:48  
Written by Unhealer on 21.05.2012 at 03:27

Good one, agree with the review. I would have given it more of a 7.5 though. And you said it like three times, but yeah, the title track and "The Legacy" are amazing songs.


No matter how much one stresses on that point, it's still always a cause of argument for this album.
BigBad - 18.01.2015 at 00:39  
I've always had a soft spot for this album given it's the first work I ever picked up from Testament. It dropped around the time I picked up my first guitar and give Alex was one of my idols at the time I listened to this rather relentlessly. I agree with a lot of the criticism in this review, especially on Peterson's rhythm section/songwriting blurring together a bit and causing some inevitable filler as a result, but I still think more kindly towards some of the tracks mentioned. Beginning of the End into Face in the Sky is generally still a pleasing section of this disc to my ears. Falling Fast isn't doing much different but keeps my interesting going and Souls of Black caps in as the highlight (had a fun time learning on bass years later). From there it turns into filler for me until The Legacy (aka THE BALLAD ), then closes with filler. The production sounds pretty thin these days but compared to other thrash albums from the time I don't think it was abysmal. Also, if the "cheese" factor is brought into earlier day thrash reviews there aren't many bands that would have gotten out alive, to me that was part of the charm. Looking back it probably does deserve a 7 as a whole body of work but even today I don't think this is a bad Testament album.
Daniell - 19.01.2015 at 09:12  
The first truly terrible Testament album. But the worst was yet to come...

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