Four years past the release of their, in my opinion, best album up to date, The Formation Of Damnation, the Bay Area thrashers and veterans now return with an album whose release date has been pushed forward a couple of times due to different reasons. At first, former drummer Paul Bostaph was seriously injured and couldn't contribute and eventually they hooked up with one of metal's best drummers, Gene Hoglan. A man who is no stranger to Testament, since he was behind the kit on their 1997 release Demonic. Also I wonder how "injured" Mr. Bostaph was, when he later decided to quit the band.
Dark Roots Of Earth mixes furious thrash songs with midtempo thrash and also one ballad. When it comes to this band, they always renew themselves for every release and two albums in a row never sound the same. Now it's one step away from their last release and one step closer to The Gathering.
The opener, Rise Up, is of course a fast song, but with midtempo parts and a song that will definitely be played live with its shouting friendly chorus, "When I say rise up, you say war!". Next up is Native Blood, where I totally dig the brutal chorus with Gene Hoglan's blast beats and we who have listened to his drums in for instance Fear Factory knows what he's capable of and that most of this type of drumming seems like a walk through the park for him. Chuck Billy's lyrics is important for him as well and a statement to his heritage.
The title track is the album's first midtempo track and it passes me by pretty fast and quiet, and works as a breather to the second song with Hoglan's blast beats, True American Hate. A fierce piece of thrash and somehow I seem to dig the faster songs better. Usually with Testament, I don't feel that way and it's probably a sheer coincidence that these tracks are the better ones. A Day In The Death, I don't like at all. It's boring and I see this track as this album's sole filler. I like the pre-chorus though when it picks up pace.
Being a thrash band, they have anyway created a couple of great ballads like Return To Serenity and The Legacy. Cold Embrace however doesn't reach those levels, but it's a decent or even rather good piece of work and like many other ballads it becomes part epic and heavier eventually, before ending with an acoustic piece.
Man Kills Mankind is another midtempo track and a typical Testament song with speedier choruses and bridges. I love the guitar parts and the catchy chorus. A song that thirteen year olds will love, as it is quite easy to remember. Track number eight, Throne Of Thorns is heavy, angry and a bit brutal with a raging vocalist. The album's last song, Last Stand For Independence is a fast song and sounds older than the other songs. Just listen to it and you will probably know what I mean.
It's hard for me to decide how much I like this album. It's good, but it's not as great as their last one. My final verdict will stay at 7 chalices, which means very good and near great. The best songs are awesome, but a couple of songs don't reach all the way to the top.