Nuclear Blast Records – 2010 – USA
Yes, yes, a review for “The Formation of Damnation” should’ve come out LAST year. But hold on a minute, before anyone cries ‘dereliction of duty’ keep in mind this writer hadn’t joined Extreminal.com when this album was released.
Everybody knows by now what an awesome comeback “Formation…” is coming from a band who’ve just emerged from an eight-year hiatus. In defiance of how freakin’ old they are (Testament aren’t THAT old, mind you) every song here sounds better than what most 20-something thrashers are peddling these days.
The ride begins with the majestic intro “For The Glory Of” where the crash of percussion forms this wondrous backdrop to awe inspiring guitar leads from master axeman Alex Sckolnick. Once it wraps, it’s gallops galore for the rumbling “More Than Meets The Eye” and the whole band just shines, be it Chuck Billy’s gruff vocal incantations whose depth and quality place him at the forefront of metal frontmen or Paul Bostaph hammering away behind the kit. Snapping at the heels of the the perfect opener is “The Evil Has Landed” which tackles September 11 and its aftermath. But it’s at the title track where Testament v.2008 reach the peak of their powers with a rampaging thrash onslaught that takes no prisoners. In terms of brutality and songwriting panache, these guys pull it off with relish. It’s like they never left the scene.
“Dangers of The Faithless” along with “Killing Season” and “Afterlife” are a slew of mid tempo tunes that ease the band’s speedier offerings like “The Persecuted Won’t Forget.” To be honest, the middle of the album is full of so-so material that simply keeps the momentum running at the right direction. Testament remain at their best handling faster material such as “Henchmen Ride” or the old school tinged romp “F.E.A.R.” As the end approaches, the band pull off a last surprise with “Leave Me Forever,” a hateful love song that suffers from mood swings. It’s a nice touch to end this magnum opus, one already destined to be among the decade’s best.