When people think of thrash metal from the 80s, the Big Four(Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) tend to come to mind. But if it had been the Big Five, Testament definitely would have been that fifth band. But even though they may not be as well-known, it doesn’t take away from their music at all. And what good music it is! This lacks the polish of albums like Practice What You Preach, but I think that helps the music in this case. It is definitely raw, which always helps a band’s first album in my opinion.
Over the Wall blasts this killer album off with fast-paced and somewhat melodic riffing. When Chuck starts singing, you can tell this album will kick some ass because he sings with such power. You can’t help but love it when he goes “Holding the quest for freedom THAT BECKONS ME!” Chuck gives some good shrieks on this song, and the guitar solo shows us the genius of Alex Skolnick (who was still a teenager at the time, I might add.) Very melodic and breathtaking solo, it’s amazing how he could play so flawlessly at such a young age! The Haunting is a killer thrasher, with some very menacing riffs at the beginning. Chuck shows us just how fast he can sing on some parts of the song, and he also gives us some evil shrieks. My favorite one is when he goes “For the haunting now BEGINS!” Gives me goosebumps every time. Alex’s solo is amazing, and pretty damn fast as well. Burnt Offerings has a very peaceful and soft intro, and Alex does some emotional guitar playing. But pretty soon the song picks up and turns into a killer metal tune. The singing and the riffs are both quite catchy and Louie’s drumming is pretty good on here. Chuck’s shrieks on this one are particularly sickening. Raging Waters is a mean metal song with ass-kicking riffs. Alex and Eric are both riff-masters by the way. Chuck sings the verses fast (How does he keep his breath?) and the chorus in a melodic voice. He even gives us some low growls towards the end, hinting at his later style of singing. That is one of the many things I like about Chuck, he can sing in a low voice, a high voice, a melodic voice, you name it. Alex gives us another wild and fast guitar solo as well. Do or Die immediately grabs you with heavy riffs and stellar drum work. The chorus to this song is one of the catchiest choruses on the album, it may not sound like it fits, but you have to hear it because it really does work! Gotta love that shriek of “HELL IS THE PLACE YOU’LL GO!” Now that is a metal shriek, folks! Alex tops it all of with a good solo.
Alone in the Dark starts with melodic guitar playing, which soon gets heavier. The chorus is on here is really melodic and nicely sung by Chuck, it doesn’t even sound like him! If you have any doubts that he can sing, then check that chorus out! Speaking of melody, you gotta hear Alex’s solo. It is wondefully done and very brilliant. Even the riffs have a bit of melody in there! C.O.T.L.O.D. is a killer speed metal song, perfect for mosh pits. Alex and Eric’s riffs will beat you senseless right from the start. Louie’s drumming on here is some of his best on the album, fast and crushing! I love those gang vocals of “Provoke the dead!” towards the end, and Chuck’s laugh is great too. Nice little solo in there too! First Strike is Deadly has a creepy intro, but it soon turns into some awesome heavy metal! Louie is all over the drums, and the riffs on this song are metal through and through. Chuck’s screams are some of best here, especailly when he goes “FIRST STRIKE IS DEADLY!” that always makes my hairs stand on end. This fantastic album ends with a fantastic closer: Apocalyptic City. It has a beautiful intro with great guitar work, but soon morphs some more kick-ass metal. “Burn! Feel no shame or pity/Burn! Apocalyptic City.” How can you not love those lyrics? Alex’s solo is his best on the album. No contest at all. The melody is simply outstanding, you may find yourself rewinding the song just to hear that solo over and over again. Chuck gives one last shriek at the end, and it brings the album to a memorable close.
By 1987, there were many thrash bands, but I think Testament stands above many of them. Their riffs are brutal, yet catchy in a way. And I mentioned before how talented of a vocalist Chuck is. And having Alex Skolnick in your band doesn’t hurt either! Trust me, if you haven’t heard this guy before, then all of the praise he gets is deserved! He is not overrated in any way, his solos put him in a league of his own. This is not mainstream music, this is a raw and dirty piece of thrash metal. And if you like that mean sound in thrash (and why the hell wouldn’t you?) then get The Legacy as soon as you can!