The Testament According to Thrash Pt. 2

Welcome back for the second and concluding portion of last week’s article.

  1. Megadeth – Rust in Peace (1990)

I really wanted a Megadeth album on this list but I was seriously torn between Peace Sells… and Rust… . I think they’re both incredible albums and at different times of my life my favourite of the two changes greatly. I’ve picked Rust… in this case because in this case because it was one of the first albums that I bought with my own money and was a gateway into heavy music for me. Whilst I also have a personal story tied to Peace Sells… it doesn’t quite have the same nostalgia tied to it for me as picking up Rust… for the first time. I remember the cover had a major impact on me as well trying to work out what was going on, why is this skeleton surrounded by world leaders? What’s up with his face? Is he resurrecting an alien? And then the songs, the complex riffs and exotic sounding solos from Marty Friedman were like a drug to a young, aspiring guitarist. There was a point where I could sing along to every word and every solo in Hangar 18 this was product of my obsession with this album and my own inability to actually play the songs.

Rust… was also my first exposure to metal songs that could have meaning to them, as songs like Holy wars and the title track tackled issues relevant to the time of the album’s recording. A number of the other songs explored Dave Mustaine’s personal battles with intoxicants and relationships. Megadeth have always been a group of incredibly talented musicians and as an album Rust in Peace not only showcases skill but a coherency and ability to transfer musicianship into well written and tight compositions. As such this album comes recommended as a very strong metal album and not just one that I personally love.

This album is home to a few Megadeth classics like Holy Wars and Hangar 18 which are both really worth a listen. Another track that is great to get a feel for this album is Tornado of Souls.

Where to go next : This one is obvious. Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying

  1. Testament – The New Order (1988)

I want to be brief here because Testament are showing up again somewhere so I’ll simply focus on this as an album. The New Order is one of the strongest Sophomore efforts I’ve heard from any band. It shows musical growth yet still maintains the same direction as the debut album. In many ways it feels like the restraints of the first record have been taken off as more time is given to slower melodic passages either as instrumental tracks or introductions. All of the band members perform at a very high level on this album.  With Alex Skolnick’s jazz infused shredding leading the charge in an assault backed by Eric Peterson’s furious riffing, if there ever was a guitar duo that I felt was underrated it’s these two.

Into the Pit is headbanger’s anthem and is closely matched by Disciples of Watch another Testament classic.

Where to go next: Dark Roots of Earth is fantastic Testament with a modern edge

  1. Dark Angel – Darkness Descends (1986)

This was an album I stumbled upon and then didn’t think about for a while. I then had it suggested to me by a couple of people and decided to buy it earlier this year. It hasn’t been out of heavy rotation since then. There’s something addictive about these frenzied songs. Gene Holgan’s drumming is superb in powering out each track but also anchoring the craziness that comes from the guitars and bass. This album is an onslaught of fire, death and darkness of the best kind. Vocalist Don Doty displays an impressive range but his growling occasionally gets lost in the mix.  

The opening track (and title track) Darkness Descends is an album definer and if I could write a song like this I think I’d be happy to call it a career. Other gems on this album are Merciless Death, Death is Certain, Life is Not and Perish in flames.

Where to go next: Death Angel – The Ultra-violence and Slayer – Reign in Blood

  1. Kreator – Pleasure to Kill (1986)

Kreator are an integral part of my origin story, they were the first metal band that I listened to by choice. I’d picked up an SPV sample compilation in Germany that had Reconquering the Throne on it. This song isn’t on Pleasure to Kill but it opened my eyes to the world of heavy music. A few years later I read an article about the writing and recording of the album in Metal Hammer and the morbid themes captured the imagination of the young teenager I was at the time. Fast forward another few years and I bought this album in Cambridge on the way home from my interview. I sat listening to it the school library the next day. This is not the appropriate environment for Kreator but the experience was mind blowing.

The production on this album is very raw which is part of it’s charm. It makes it sound like pure rage and aggression in recorded form. The version of the album that I own came with the Flag of Hate EP which means more anger for your money. The best way to describe this album is a record packed with songs that violently thrash around but I realise that doesn’t mean a great deal in this context. This is a chaotic, dark and gritty work of music with perhaps the lightest moment being the opening Choir of the Damned (I think that says it all really).

Listen to Pleasure to Kill and Pestilence first and then have no regrets about buying this album.

Where to go next: I actually think newer Kreator is really good so go listen Enemy of God or Phantom Antichrist. Also check out fellow German thrash titans Sodom

  1.  Testament – The Legacy (1987)

I said they’d be back and here they are. Testament were the first band that I ever saw live so they’ve had a huge impact on me and in particular this album. It’s most surprising that this album is a debut album, everything about it feels very complete. This is band who knew their trade well early on and didn’t shy away from showing it. Skolnick’s leads are one of the things that really sets this album a part from what else was being made at the time. This is melodic thrash and it’s a thing of beauty. I like it more than the follow up, from earlier in the list, simply because all the songs feel a lot more to the point. I also think the tracks are all a great deal more memorable than on The New Order.

The fact that Testament have two albums in this list really speaks measures about how good I think these albums are. There are some moments that I’d like to highlight on this album that are entertaining for different reasons. Firstly the solo in Over the Wall, this is one of my favourite guitar solos in metal music. It never feels self-indulgent, Skolnick doesn’t descend into pure speed or mindless shredding, there’s something very soulful about this solo but it’s still in keeping with the intensity of the song. It’s also wonderfully dark sounding. Raging Waters has a moment that I’m not sure I’ll ever not find funny. Chuck Billy growls ‘THE TRIANGLE’ in the way that only Chuck Billy can before hastily clarifying that this is ‘the Devil’s triangle’. It’s amusing, which I doubt was the intention, but doesn’t ruin the song.

my favourite track on this album is The Haunting but for a short burst of why Testament are great check out C.O.T.L.O.D.


Where to go Next: Go back and read the list!

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