Testament - _First Strike Still Deadly_
(Spitfire, 2001)
by: Aaron McKay (8 out of 10)
As you might have guessed from the title, this new effort is some truly intense (re-done) material from one of the bands that has set the thrash metal standard for ages. This is a "best of" album with a unique twist; Testament reinvented itself and brought back line-ups from ages past. Recognize the names Alex Skolnick, John Tempesta and Steve Souza? You should if you call yourself a Testament fan, and I sure as hell do. From the first three efforts, this -long- standing Bay Area staple rips though near and dear favs like "Into the Pit", "Trial by Fire", "Over the Wall" and "The New Order". Mr. Souza takes center stage on "Alone in the Dark" and "Reign of Terror" for a couple of tracks assured to put a smile on your face and your fist in the fuckin' air! The impregnable Chuck Billy is in faultless form -- even his backing vocals are incredible and absolute; a really well incorporated (very, very sparingly) use of Billy's "death metal" voice from _Demonic_ can be heard now and again. I have wondered at various times what it might sound like to have Chuck's experience applied to albums like _The New Order_ (my favorite Testament release, by the way). I guess I now have my answer. On another note, I've always appreciated and respected Alex's guitar style since day one, so it is a rare and welcome privilege to have his talent demonstrated once again on this forcefully executed release. Pay special, close attention to the fantastic ability of the rare demo (re-)recording of "Reign of Terror" -- that much proficiency so long ago when this band was called The Legacy is nearly inconceivable. Well worth the price of admission, boys and girls; I am spinning this one a helluva lot. On a personal note, I'd just like to say God bless Mr. Billy and I wish him the speediest of recoveries!

[Matthias Noll: "Re-recorded old Testament tracks -- yawn. Two with Zetro -- yeah right, so who gives a damn? Hadn't a friend of mine bought this, I would have never been tempted to check it out. And I would have screwed up big time! In Paul (R.I.P.) Baloff's words: this is older than shit, heavier than time! For me "Reign of Terror" is the best of the eleven tracks and I can't stop fantasizing about how cool _The Legacy_ would have sounded with the ripping and snarling Steve Souza hadn't he joined Exodus. If you've got the slightest interest in thrash metal, then go get this now, set the volume to eleven, fall to your knees and bow to these Thrash Lords!"]

[Paul Schwarz: "New performances with a modern production of _Legacy_-era Testament sounded like a recipe for excellence. And despite the fact that the new "Over the Wall" is sadly no match for its thirteen-year-old original, almost every single one of these new versions improves on its original, with "Disciples of the Watch" the crushingly reworked highlight."]

(article published 12/4/2002)

7/7/1999 A Bromley Testament: A Testament to Longevity
8/12/1997 D Schinzel Testament: Thrash Up Yo Ass, Muthafucka
8/13/2012 A El Naby 7.5 Testament - Dark Roots of Earth
4/27/2008 J Smit 9 Testament - The Formation of Damnation
6/15/1999 A Bromley 9 Testament - The Gathering
1/1/1998 D Schinzel 6.5 Testament - Signs of Chaos: The Best of Testament
7/14/1997 D Schinzel 7 Testament - Demonic
9/14/1997 S Hoeltzel Testament / Stuck Mojo / Strapping Young Lad Demonic Pigwalk
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