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Testament: The Spitfire Collection

What might be seen as a cash grab by Spitfire Records is actually not a bad little collection of Testament tunes from their stay with the heavy metal label over the last decade. If you are looking for their vintage recordings from the 80's, look elsewhere, as this release covers the releases Live at the Fillmore, The Gathering, Demonic, First Strike Still Deadly, and Live in London. Despite the strong track list here, I'm not sure what the point is to be releasing this set so soon after most of these albums were released and then reissued, so unless you have not taken a stab at any Testament release since the mid-90's, The Spitfire Collection will probably not be worth investigating. If you have not checked out any of this premier California thrash act's output in that time period, then this is a decent primer. While a host of the tunes featured here are older classics played live ("Practice What Your Preach", "The New Order", "Into the Pit", "Trial By Fire", "Disciples of the Watch") and re-recorded ("Over the Wall", "The Preacher"), the more recent tunes featured are actually great examples of the thrashy death metal the band experimented with in the late 90's. Songs like "Hatreds", "The Burning Times", "John Doe", "Careful What You Wish For", "Down For Life", and "Riding the Snake" all display tight ferocity and moments of brutality as well as melody. During this time period the band had trouble keeping a stable line-up, and players such as James Murphy, Gene Hoglan, Dave Lombardo, and Steve DiGiorgio floated in and out of the ranks. Despite all the turmoil, singer Chuck Billy and guitarist Eric Peterson remained constant, and recently original members Alex Skolnick, Louie Clemente, and Greg Christian have even come back to play with the band.

In summary, The Spitfire Collection is just that, a 14 track overview of Testament's time with Spitfire Records. Is it worth purchasing? You be the judge.

Track Listing
1. The New Order
2. Souls Of Black
3. Practice What You Preach
4. Hatreds Rise
5. The Burning Times
6. John Doe
7. Careful What You Wish For
8. Down For Life
9. Riding The Snake
10. Over The Wall
11. The Preacher
12. Into The Pit
13. Trial By Fire
14. Disciples Of The Watch

Added: March 8th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Testament Website
Hits: 2182
Language: english

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Testament: The Spitfire Collection
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-03-08 13:44:56
My Score:

Testament has long been a band that is listed among the revered when it comes to the brand of Thrash Metal that originated from the Bay Area in California so many years ago. Albums such as Practice What You Preach, The Ritual and Souls Of Black are cited as classics in the genre and the membership of Billy, Clemente, Skolnick, Christian and Peterson are named as legends in Heavy Metal as a whole based on these releases. While popular with Metal heads far and wide, they would not achieve the levels of success that bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth did but despite this would continue to thrive for the sake of the genre. The Spitfire Collection is an interesting release for while it might touch upon a couple of notable numbers from the bands historic past, its true aim is to give you a taste of the bands last decade or so. The CD covers the albums Live At The Fillmore, The Gathering, Demonic, First Strike Still Deadly and Live In London, all of which were released on this label when the band signed on to them. As you leaf through the liner notes, you will see that while Testament remained a very active band since their inception, they were plagued with a number of lineup changes over the years. Don't get me wrong as these changes would often find some incredible players in the bands roster, and how bad could they do with drummers such as Gene Hoglan and Dave Lombardo behind the kit. The material presented from both The Gathering and Demonic is perhaps the heaviest that the band would ever release and the songs showed the band could change with the times as necessary. Through it all, Chuck Billy and Eric Peterson remained the only members of the original lineup across this span of albums. The changes continued until making almost a complete 360 degree turn as the original members would reunite for the Live In London CD and DVD. The album closes with three tracks from this particular release and should make many run to the shops or online to purchase their own copy.

Many collections like this seem like money making efforts off the bands name but in this instance I prefer to view it as a nice sampler plate of material that Metal fans would appreciate from one of the genres heavies. Testament is responsible for a very rich back catalog and this focus on their time with Spitfire is a great way to absorb what you might have missed out on. Now is your chance to catch up.

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