TESTAMENT are a band that mean a lot to a lot of people, they have had a long but not so easy career. The turbulence around the bands line up is no secret so I think I can safely say that anyone reading this knows the story. In my own humble opinion I have to say the line up Eric Peterson and Chuck Billy have gathered this time (no pun intended) is a true super group in all senses of the term but that is really enough about that because we all know that TESTAMENT is really just Eric and Chuck and when they get their heads down they are one hell of an unstoppable force.
Musically “The Gathering” is actually quiet a mixed bag, for a band that has been around since before 1987 (that is the year I was born folks just to put it in perspective) they have faired very well and have evolved with the times. “The Gathering” is a hard hitting no nonsense album, plan and simple. The riffs on this album are heavy as fuck and Eric is backed by one of the greatest rhythm sections I could possibly imagine in Dave Lombardo and Steve DiGiorgio. Not content with just playing “basic” Thrash riffs, the band branch out and embrace all the more extreme forms of music around to day, with a lot of Death Metal influences and a noticeable Black Metal (but with better production) style also noticeable. Just look at the calibre of the musicians involved, you would be very disappointed if the music didn’t rock out and boy does it ever. I have to say, as a big SLAYER fan, the inclusion of a certain drummer on here led to high expectations. Well I can safely say the drumming blew me out the water, Dave is all over this one and his double bass are fucking incredible, its mind bending stuff.
I want to have a special mention of the vocals on this album. On the two previous albums before this one Chuck Billy introduced a Death Metal style low growl, well here it does not take the fore like it did on DEMONIC but is mixed in very well with the normal Thrash style bark and even little bits of clean singing (not much, it’s a pure Thrash record through and through). It all works very well and this album is one of the reasons I rank Chuck Billy as the voice of Thrash (high praise in anyone’s book). Also on this one his lyrics are pretty good, I mean its not life altering stuff and it certainly isn’t great literature but they fit in very well and a song like “Down For Life” is pretty touching.
Look I can not say enough great things about this album, its one of the few albums I own that if I listen to the first song I HAVE to sit and listen to the rest. It grabs you round the throat, fucks with your head and then spits you back out. This album is not just great music, it’s an experience, one that everyone should experience for themselves. As a mere mortal I don’t think any words can do justice to this album and we should all form an opinion for ourselves but take it from me, if you like Thrash and you love TESTAMENT, if you do not like this album I think you need your head checked. Not their best maybe but certainly great. (Online May 7, 2005)
Guest reviewer Shane Head