When Testament released “The New Order” in 1988, they laid to rest the rumors that they might go through a sophomore slump. This album showed that Testament definitely didn’t follow in the footsteps of some bands and use up all of their good material on their first album, thus leaving them strapped for ideas when the time comes to write/record their sophomore release. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Testament held anything back for their debut; “The Legacy” was a great album. But Chuck, Greg, Louie, Eric, and Alex obviously didn’t run out of ideas, because “The New Order” is another prime example of thrash excellence.
Chuck sometimes hits high notes (as in “The Preacher”), but he sounds best when he uses a low, gruff voice (which is most of the time). Louie’s drumming is typically fast and talented, Eric anchors the songs with his rhythm guitar, and Greg’s bass notes are occasionally audible, but (as is the case with “The Legacy,” and most early Testament discs) lead axeman Alex Skolnick runs the show. I shouldn’t even have to tell you (it should just be a given) that Skolnick is in fine form, here. After all, he didn’t earn the title of being a “classic” for nothing. On almost every song here, Alex pulls out more than a fair share of hefty riffs and amp-shredding solos.
“Into The Pit” is one of my personal favorite Testament tunes, and it remains a concert favorite to this day (probably because Chuck has admitted the band wrote this song just to get the crowd moving). With a highly energetic beat, pounding, rapid drums, fast tempo changes, and a catchy shout-along chorus, “Into The Pit” is a timeless, top-shelf thrash song, and it’s one of heavy metal’s first ever mosh pit anthems..
The other nine songs are almost as great. “Eerie Inhabitants” opens the album with a pretty, spacey acoustic guitar intro, and segues into a stomping beat which is propelled by a blistering guitar lead. Also included is a lengthy (50 second), winding, melodic and very complex solo (is there any other kind of Skolnick solo?!) Track three, “Trial By Fire,” has grinding, churning riffs and a wailing solo, making it probably the best song on this record for showcasing Skolnick’s sheer talent. There are three other lost classics on here, including the speedy, bruising sixth track, “Disciples Of The Watch,” which is backed by a thumping rhythm section and careening guitars. “Nobody’s Fault” is a risky but well executed and fitting Aerosmith cover, and is highlighted by clean singing and some almost Hammett-style guitar work. And, lastly, the album concludes with “Musical Death.” This is a mostly slow, completely instrumental song with beautiful acoustic plucking.
If you’re a thrasher or metalhead, you shouldn’t even be reading this review. Even though it’s sound quality is a bit dated, and the album, as a whole, is less than forty minutes long, you should already know that “The New Order” is a classic. Essential listening? Absolutely!