Testament - The Gathering

Testament - The Gathering

Testament - The Gathering

(1999, Spitfrire Records)

The late 90s was a very tough period for traditional Thrash. Other sub-genres seemed to enjoy the acceptance from the fans and Media and there was no sign that thrashers would return back to enjoy headbanging and watching relentless live performances by their precious bands. Needless to say, too, the big names of Thrash were also in some kind of confusion or trouble: METALLICA had already ‘extended’ their horizons, SLAYER seemed to be searching their own signature style gone away at the time, ANTHRAX showed no sign of playing this kind of style again, OVERKILL were heading to a more HC direction and EXODUS were just out of the game at the time. Even TESTAMENT were approaching some more guttural style with prior releases such as “Demonic” and “Low”. And then came a gathering…

This is maybe the most explosive post-80s Thrash album ever made in the USA. I think no one believed (even the band) TESTAMENT would return with such a tremendous release. Let’s start from the lineup: original members Chuck Billy and Eric Peterson are joined by – maybe – the most renowned names in the extreme Metal circuit: James Murphy (CANCER, DEATH, OBITUARY), Steve DiGiorgio (SADUS, DEATH, CONTROL DENIED, AUTOPSY, ICED EARTH, ) and Dave Lombardo (SLAYER, GRIP INC., VOODOOCULT). This fact and only raises the bar quite high in order to make an album full of thrashin’ quality. And, damn it, the band did it. From the opening intro of “D.N.R.” it’s obvious this lineup takes no prisoners and it’s time to put some things in place for this what Thrash is all about.

The drumming is intense (as if you did not know it). The bass lines are fierce (as if you were caught by surprise). The guitars work fires like there’s no tomorrow (as if this was fresh news to you). The vocals are tempting, provocative and dominative (as if you were expecting something else). So, what’s the reason for some kind of presentation over here? Well, apart from the individual performances that take no prisoners there’s another reason for why “The Gathering” kills at first sight; there are enough times in the Metal history when big names did not result in a big album. Secondly, both Billy and Peterson seemed to be aware Thrash as we knew it had been pushed behind in terms of spirit and 80s-inspired hostility and there had to be a band to release something to set things straight again. Thirdly, a new decade always brings new points of reference and abandons outdated styles that have nothing more to offer (always speaking about commercial values). Hence, the original TESTAMENT duo sat down and wrote stuff that followed both paths: the 80s values in one hand and the prominent feature in the other. If you take the time to listen the album without doing anything lese you will definitely see “The Gathering” surely is a Thrash LP but in addition holds some wider Metal values: aggression (not in a ‘Nu’ way), vice, speed, malevolence and caustic lyrics (do not ever forget them).

Fast tempos, mid-tempos, moshpits, headbanging, stagediving, full power: “The Gathering” – in my humble opinion – brought classic Thrash back to life and made enough other bands worldwide (older or younger) to reconsider ‘bout their next moves. In other words, the kiss of life to Thrash some dozen years ago was given by this band and this album. This is not the best TESTAMENT LP but it possibly is the most crucial one for both this classic outfit and Thrash music. And, not to forget: do not listen to this CD and drive…


Tracklist

01. D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
02. Down For Life
03. Eyes Of Wrath
04. True Believer
05. 3 Days In Darkness
06. Legions Of The Dead
07. Careful What You Wish For
08. Riding The Snake
09. Allegiance
10. Sewn Shut Eyes
11. Fall Of Sipledome


Lineup

Chuck Billy - Vocals
James Murphy - Guitars
Eric Peterson - Guitars
Steve DiGiorgio - Bass
Dave Lombardo - Drums