Binding together years of angst and under-recognition with the threads of musicianship is one thing, but gathering up all those bits and pieces into masterful work of artistic aggression is something completely different. After fifteen years of toiling in the shadows of the bay-area thrash scene and the fickle responce of the public to metal, Testament leave its greatest mark. The latest recorded incarnation of Testament stitches together pieces of its own past into a regenerated form on The Gathering. Just as the title of the album implies, it is a coming together of musical masterminds from the most impressive of metal backgrounds. Joining founders Chuck Billy (voices) and Eric Peterson (guitar) are Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Grip Inc., Fantomas) on drums, Doug DiGornio (Death, Control Denied, session player) on bass, James Murphy (Death, Obituary, Low-era Testa, soloist) on guitar. Mustering up every bit of musical diversity found on Low with the threatening presence of
Demonic while harkening back to it’s early days of The Legacy, Testament bring together power, percision and intensitity on eleven ear-pounding compositions. Incorperating his signature growl with the variety of vocal inflections he has used throughout his enduring career, Chuck Billy’s emotional response to the bands new direction screams forth. Layer in the percussive guitar onslaught of Pererson and Murphy with their harmonized lead approach and the dynamic drumming of Lombardo and it is easy to hear how Testament have attempted to write a new book for American thrash, speed and death metal to follow. Blistering speed is countered with finess, overpowering climaxes are built out of subtle melodies, compositional depth born from musical ability and persistance translates to success. Even the production on “The Gathering” finds the band focused and poised to conquer with a crushing, weighty depth. If there had been any doubt about Testament’s abilities or endurance they have surly been laid to rest now as the quintet has put into practice what it always preached: strong musicianship, insense song writing and an uncompromising metallic scowl on The Gathering.