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Released: 1997, Burnt Offerings
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos
Testament is an interesting band in that I feel their best music was released well after their debut, but DEMONIC is not the best part of it. Nevertheless, it is not a bad album to listen to.
Although Testament seem to come back in a familiar territory, restoring both the occult themes and the pentacle on the cover, the seventh disc, DEMONIC, is definitely the most remote and far-off album the band ever made. The style is closer than ever to the pure death metal, the compositions move basically in heavy mid-tempo tunes and Billy flattens everything with demonic roar away from his trademark vocals. With Gene Hoglan’s advent on drums and repatriation of Derrick Ramirez (singer of Legacy-the previous band name of Testament- in the period '83 - '84) replacing Christian in bass spot, Testament sound less ... Testament than ever and this is essentially one major blemish of DEMONIC.
DEMONIC is an awkward musical mixture indeed, with old school thrash forming the core, downtuned guitars and growls enforcing a new death metal feel, and some use of the minor and major pentatonic scale and rehashed riffing in some songs that kind of make them sound uninspired and recycled. DEMONIC is a heavy album that found Eric Peterson handling all of the guitar duties. Gone are the twin axe attack that typified the Skolnick years, that was replaced by a sound that is darker and more evil sounding. While Chuck Billy’s vocals on the follow up to DEMONIC, THE GATHERING, were much better, these are pretty good by comparison to other grunts and growls that were and have been around and praised.
DEMONIC is a definite improvement of LOW and surely it made the band making one step further, musically speaking but, many fans got disappointed to that release, and they were much more than those who got disappointed to the LOW one. Instead of "selling out" themselves and their music and becoming softer with the change in the music scene like many of their contemporaries (Metallica, Megadeth, Kreator, Anthrax) Testament forged their own sound and though forced deeper into the underground, refused to let up on the intensity. Of course, Testament were affected by the huge flush of death metal and this is obvious in songwriting and the vocals.
There are only a few songs that could be a good part of the live setlist but this never happened (‘Distorted Lives’, ‘Demonic Refusal’, ‘Murky Waters’). There are fillers and many songs lack of freshness (‘Ten Thousand Thrones’, ‘Hatreds Rise’-this bring to my mind a little bit the cover in Scorpion’s ‘Sails of Charon’ four years later).
Time told that the swaying groove death-y sound doesn’t fit to Testament music and death growls as well. Testament didn’t manage to even up the score with DEMONIC. 90’s was a really strange decade for heavy metal and Testament is part of it. They will dig it again some years later and time will tell.
1. Demonic Refusal
2. The Burning Times
3. Together As One
5. John Doe
6. Murky Waters
7. Hatred's Rise
8. Distorted Lives
9. New Eyes Of Old
10. Ten Thousand Thrones
Chuck Billy: Vocals
Eric Peterson: guitar
Derrick Ramirez: bass
Gene Hoglan: drums
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