I’ve been aware of Testament since their very beginning and I’m agree with almost everyone that their three (or perhaps four?) first releases are all classics. Also, no doubt about the skills of Alex Scholnick, who arguably was (IS, after the recent reunion) the main attraction of this band. However, in spite of all that, I have terribly felt in love with “Low” and now it is my preferred Testament album. But… why?
Well, perhaps the first thing to notice is the sharp production. Killer sound, you find no better in the Testament’s catalogue! Other element would be the downtuned guitars. They give a darker feeling to their music. The death metal influences integrate well with the proggish edge Testament always had, and still the final product sounds coherent and very solid from the songwriting point of view. Additionally, Chuck Billy shows some new vocal influences, which is far from being disappointing. In fact, the more divergent from the Bay Area archetypical voice his vocals are, the more I like him!
Some words now dedicated to the amazing shredder James Murphy is. I must confess that he was almost unknown to me when I picked this album up. I must say now: for those of you who are worrying about the absence of Alex Scholnick (like I was too), I can safely tell you that James Murphy is an axeman of the same calibre. “Low” is a safe buy for sure, but an even safer one if all you want is a shredding guitar fest. His work on the superb ballad “Trail Of Tears” is of the finest around, but every guitar riff and solo on this album finds the perfect balance between taste, spontaneity and technicality — that’s guaranteed! I dare to say: even if you loved Scholnick I don’t think you’ll miss him here!
So, this album has changed it all for me. Before “Low” I thought Annihilator had produced the two most magical thrash masterpieces ever (“Alison Hell” and “Never Neverland”), but now “Low” has also entered in my own temple of sacred metal records. “Low” maybe is slightly less progressive, but it has a lot of “charm” — that weird impalpable thing emanating from true works of art! In few words, if you are looking for a greatly-produced, written and performed thrash metal opus with all the heavy ingredients you wanted, from growling vocals to a true blast of GREAT guitar riffs, solos and power drumming, search no more: this is it! FIVE freakin’ BIG stars!