Testament’s another one of those names in American (particularly Bay Area) thrash that deserves to be hailed alongside Slayer and (early) Metallica - but which has sadly never achieved such recognition (in spite of having solidly outclassed the recent output of both bands). The blend of thrash metal instrumentation with Chuck Billy’s more death-growly vocals never really caught on with the listening public when they were all abandoning the genre in droves to go listen to Pantera, and when nearly every other thrash band decided to sell out. Still, these guys show that they can (and do) kick some serious arse.
But I watch this video and... damn if it isn’t the trippiest, weirdest, most visually confusing and overdone music videos I’ve ever seen - and I’m including the music video for Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ in that, by the way. True to its word, though, there really is more than meets the eye... which is a good thing, because what meets the eye is: Photoshopped cartoon skulls in transparency effects, an automated portcullis which looks like it came out of a late-90’s arcade shooter, Force Lightning emanating from Alex Skolnick and Chuck Billy (yeah, you guys are awesome - but not Jedi) and more bats than one would care to count.
Still, awesome song. And awesome album. 2008’s The Formation of Damnation is actually fairly broad-ranging and heavy in theme, even for a thrash album - from the War on Terror (‘The Evil Has Landed’) to scathing criticism of Bush (‘The Formation of Damnation’), religious extremism (‘Dangers of the Faithless’) and the oppression of innocents (‘The Persecuted Won’t Forget’) to good old-fashioned fun biker rock (‘Henchman Ride’) and existential, religious questions (‘Afterlife’). The last actually appears to be pretty personal for Billy, a lapsed Catholic whose close call recovering from cancer led to his renewed appreciation for the big questions (though now from an American Indian perspective).
And did I mention the whole album is solid and unrelenting thrash, front to back? Definitely worth a listen or ten. Very, very fun stuff.