Monday, April 14, 2014

Testament - Low (1994)

By the time this came rollin' 'round the bend I was pretty much a snot-nosed and militant death metal head. Sure, I grew up loving Testament's early albums and all that but by '94 I grew weary of thrash and found it to be vastly inferior to the crushing and abysmal sounds of death metal. Also of note, I was extremely bummed when I had learned that James Murphy disbanded the godly Disincarnate to join this at times cornball bay-area thrash outfit. I mean seriously, as good as some of Testament's album are, none of them can contentd with 'Dreams of the Carrion Kind'.

I remember the hype surrounding this album due to Chuck Billy's increasing use of death metal vocals, and I admit that when they're on, they're on. Unfortunately, 'Low' also showcases some of Billy's most horrendously faglicious vocal lines as well ("Confirm who I am, contort all I can..."). I remember cringing and wanting to hide in the shadows when I first heard that ultra-homo verse. What's worse is that for the most part the vocal work on the remainder of that song ('Dog Faced Gods', by the way) is actually pretty fucking good, only to be marred by that faggoty chorus.

Musically, Low may just be Testament's heaviest moment to date (yeah, forget all of the melodic black metal homosexuality of their last album). Not sure how much of this had to do with Eric Peterson wanting to show off to James Murphy that he too can pen a death metal lick (not quite) or what, but it is what it is. I've read in some places this album described as Pantera-esque "groove metal" (seriously, whoever thinks it's cute to coin these terms needs a cattle prod jammed up their ass). I can thankfully and confidently say that this is not the case. Sure, there's moments where your cabeza may begin rocking back and fourth but I assure you it's not as a result of some wigger-fied Pantera riff or any such thing. Honestly, aside from Chuck's lapse into homosexuality, this album is quite the scorcher and stands alongside 'The Legacy' in greatness. All the musicians are on fire here and the songs are all great and most importantly, stand out from one another.

In a time when most thrash bands were either "wigging" out Pantera style or jumping out of the closet (i.e. Metallica, Megadeth, etc...) Testament was one of the very few who not only stood their ground but took the extremity that much further.

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