Testament – The Formation of Damnation (Nuclear Blast Records)

Thursday, 14th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

It seemed like this would never come. Testament have taken almost a decade to produce the follow-up to 1999’s mammoth The Gathering, having endured a cancer scare for Chuck Billy, some lineup shuffles, and eventually the return of guitarist Alex Skolnick and bassist Greg Christian. Somewhere in between was the promise from Eric Peterson that the album was being worked on, a statement he made a handful of times going all the way back to 2003, but we’ll digress…

Not many surprises abound on The Formation of Damnation. It’s an obvious step from The Gathering with a little more emphasis on the band’s polished late 80’s thrash template. The return of Skolnick was a big score, but he never cuts loose like you would expect, even if the solos on “The Persecuted Won’t Forget” and “The Evil Has Landed” are top-notch.

Drum nomad Paul Bostaph (ex Slayer, Exodus) holds things down admirably, but man, what a treat it would have been for Nick Barker to play on this thing as opposed to having his visa papers denied. Bostaph does unleash an array of jet-propelled drum work on the title track and “Henchmen Ride,” however.

No major duds here and lead single “More Than Meets the Eye” is one of the more enjoyable, immediate thrash tunes to emerge of late. Same bodes for the title track, where Peterson employs his vaunted rhythm skills during the song’s main riff.

Some early ideas are revisited, as in the Low stomp of “Killing Season” and “Afterlife,” two songs that give nods to the band’s underrated 1994 album. Same bodes for “F.E.A.R.” which bears more than a passing resemblance to “So Many Lies” off The Ritual.

Bay Area thrash has hoisted the revitalized thrash scene on its shoulders thanks to three albums: Exodus’ The Atrocity Exhibition, Death Angel’s Killing Season and now The Formation of Damnation. With Forbidden threatening to release a new one (which will hopefully be better than Green), it appears the circle will be complete. Testament remains at the head of that group and The Formation of Damnation was worth the wait and should hold up for another, oh, nine years.

 www.testamentlegions.com

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)