Review: Testament – The Gathering

Location: Oakland, California
Genre: Thrash Metal
Released: June 28, 1999
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: National Uprising – ATF Nominee

By: Kris Kotlarik

This is a different work from much of Testament’s previous seven albums. It’s far heavier, much more aggressive, and quite frankly a lot more fun to listen to. It set the pace for what their future albums would sound like, but none of them would ever reach what The Gathering achieved. This is in part because Dave Lombardo (of Slayer, Fantomas, and Melvins fame) pounds the heads off the drums on this, his only appearance on Testament. The songwriting is top notch by Testament’s standards, fittingly including such apocalyptic themes as the rise of the undead, shifting polarity, and the Mayan calendar’s so-called “Doomsday.” 

Two tracks, “Legions Of The Dead” and “Fall Of Sipledome,” are my two favorite Testament tracks from their entire discography. The former is a short, pummeling track that doesn’t let up for a second. Among its many highlights is the guitar work towards the end, with Lombardo blasting away. “Sipledome” is a fantastic album closer with a nice solo that occupies much of the second half and is surrounded by more thrash metal goodness. 

The opener, “D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate [apparently some people may have been confused that they were referring to the Department of Natural Resources]),” is also fantastic once it builds up from its slow intro. “3 Days In Darkness” is also a great track with a stellar ending.

There isn’t anything wrong with the other tracks, but they simply don’t pack anywhere near as much punch as the aforementioned ones do. Many of them, especially “Riding The Snake” and “True Believer,” have bridge sections that are better than the rest of the song. At any rate, if you’re into thrash metal with some death metal influences, this should be on your list.

Overall: Somewhat uneven, but the good far exceeds the not-so-amazing. 

Rating: 4.0*

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