Fast forward to 2012 and Testament, after years of diminishing returns and sub-standard work, have reunited with most of their original line up, Alex included, and released two albums, the most recent of which is Dark Roots of Earth. Let me say from the outset, I buy a LOT of CDs and it's rare for a CD to stay in my rotation list for long. This CD has been a constant for me since I got it. Imagine if Metallica had stayed a metal band, and James Hetfield had continued to drink, so that his voice got a little rougher instead of cleaner through the years. That's pretty much what you get here. I hate to belabor the Metallica comparison, because it's not perfect at all, but, the riffs here really would not be out of place on Master of Puppets, even though they certainly have their own character. The same is true of the complexity of the songs overall, the harmony leads, the melodic soloing, basically everything you love about metal is on this album in spades.
Even the artwork is awesome.
After a couple of faster tracks, the title track is a slower song, but bone crushingly heavy. 'A day in the death' starts with a bass riff, and then the guitars take over. "Cold Embrace" slows things right down with a ballad. I've read reviews that state that this is the one song that makes this CD less than the one before, but, let's not forget that Testament didn't just record a ballad back in the day, they CALLED it "The Ballad." This is nothing new, and it's a great piece of music, and a good break around the middle of the CD. It also shows that Chuck can really sing, as well as his customary bark. In any case, it doesn't sound like a Neil Young song, it has it's share of heavy guitars and solos.
The rest of the album rounds out in suitably heavy fashion, with only "Throne of Thorns" starting soft before kicking in. I have the bonus edition which includes covers of "Dragon Attack" (Queen), "Animal Magnetism" (Scorpions) and "Powerslave" (Iron Maiden). The "Powerslave" cover sticks to the original pretty much until the solos, which are much better than the original. There's also an extended version of "Throne of Thorns" (nearly eight minutes as opposed to seven). There's also a DVD with some live tracks and a making of documentary.
Testament joins a growing rank of bands (Metallica is not one of them) whose later work is so good that I'd be happy to go to a show where next to no older songs are played. That has to be good for metal as a whole, as well as hugely satisfying for the bands in question. If you like metal, buy this CD.