A survey of some of the greatest 80’s metal albums would be worthless without this 1988 wonder. In close quarters with _Peace Sells_ and perhaps only reigned over by the ubiquitous _Master of Puppets_, _The New Order_ smokes them all by a nautical mile on chops and taste. Guitarist Alex Skolnick was so far advanced over any of his peers, technically and melodically, that he ended up floating over to fusion (someone asked what he was doing after Testament – check out Savatage _Handful of Rain_ and his fusion band Attention Deficit, also the jazz-oriented Alex Skolnick Trio). The album teems with incredible playing, at times eerie and atmospheric as it is technical and erudite. The gorgeous “Hypnosis”, “Musical Death: A Dirge” and especially his playing on “Trial By Fire” – which alone could fill an entire volume on proper foundation for metal guitar theory – is simply unmistakable and beautiful. At the time, other than maybe Jason Becker and one or two other boys hiding in the Shrapnel metal stable, there was simply no one that was even CLOSE to being his peer, technically or artistically (well – maybe Hammett, but Skolnick still owns me to this day). Of course, this album wouldn’t be important as it is if there wasnt an incredible band behind Skolnick, one of the best to ever lay claim to the mantle of thrash. Chuck Billy remains one of metal’s best-kept secrets, posessing at once both terrifying range and demonic growls. Eric Petersen ably supports Skolnick’s nimble arpeggios with excellent songwriting, compositional and sympathetic rhythm work, and bassist Greg Christian and rock-solid, never flashy Louie Clemente complete the lineup of the best metal band to never quite make it big. Boasting classic thrash-metal production from Alex Peralias, the band tears through terrific speed-metal numbers like “The Preacher”, “Disciples of The Watch” and the bonadfide classic “Into The Pit” with a fury rarely seen at that time, or any other. A highlight which somehow, beyond belief, seemed to get left off of BOTH of the Testament “best of” compliations, is the fantastic Aerosmith cover “Nobody’s Fault”, and should be reason alone to get this album if your Testament collection is unthinkably lacking it. Perhaps owing to its brevity, but more due to its varied textures, idiosyncratic and complex songwriting, and strong performances, this is the very best album this incarnation of the band ever put out, vastly superior to the somewhat more melodic but less-consistent _Practice What You Preach_, _Souls of Black_ and swan song _The Ritual_. Mark these words: own this, and your record collection will bear the unmistakable stamp of a metal masterpiece.