I bought Souls of Black when it was new back in 1990. I was going through my metal period in high school (which never ended: the metal period, I mean, not high school) and I already had The Legacy and New Order by Testament which I liked but did not consider among my favorite albums. After seeing the video for the beautiful track “The Legacy” (not to be confused with the album by the same name) which incorporated the cool cover imagery, I rushed and bought Souls of Black and it quickly became one of my favorite metal albums. I did not (and still don’t) notice anything rushed or under-produced about it. I just hear a solid thrash metal album with tracks so catchy (ie “Absence of Light” and the title track) I can sing along to them (I can’t say that about most thrash albums). “Beginning of the End” might be considered a “filler” because it is a short instrumental but it is very cool with a Latin flavor, and it makes for a nice intro to the explosive “Face in the Sky.” The only track I might consider semi-weak is “One Man’s Fate” because I do not like the overall sound but even on this track there is aa highlight: kicking drums!
“Seven Days of May” deserves special mention. It is about the student-led protests held Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China, between April 15, 1989 and June 4, 1989. The protest denounced China’s economic instability and political corruption and was violently suppressed by the PRC government. This event was still very fresh when this album was released in 1990. On May 4, 1989, 100,000 students and workers peacefully marched in Beijing making demands for adherence to socialist principles of equality, and protesting government corruption. These demonstrations continued even after the government declared martial law on May 20. The Communist party leaders eventually sent troops and tanks to restore order. When these forces were confronted by Chinese workers in the streets of Beijing, a massacre ensued (in the words of Testament: “They tried to show a peaceful path then it turned into a blood bath / In the Square they plan the game That’s when the tanks of the army came”). Even today, the Chinese government will not allow any tallies made to count the actual number of dead. So there is lyrical meat to the album. And by the way, the song kicks as do the others save for “The Legacy” which is a charming metal ballad about the discovery of one’s mortality. Excellent all the way through, I recommend it without hesitation.