“First Strike Still Deadly” (reissue) by Testament

Artist: Testament
Title: “First Strike Still Deadly” (reissue)
Label: Prosthetic Records
Release Date: 3/18/2008
Genre: Thrash Metal
Rating: 4/5

You have to admire a band when they set out to re-release classic tracks from early in their career but instead of delivering something which you are long familiar with on a compilation release decide to go through the painstaking process of re-recording and producing the songs with today’s available technology. I say this with a wry sense of sarcasm because it’s all too often when bands choose to do something of this type and the listener ends up receiving stuff that sounds so far off the mark of what you once knew and loved. One such example was with the dreadful “re-do” of Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” where the guys re-recorded the classic album and delivered it to their fans as “the way it should have sounded” – spare me guys, that was not necessary. Fortunately this would not be the case with the release of Testament’s “First Strike Still Deadly”, a 2001 album that has been picked up and re-issued by Prosthetic Records for us all to enjoy in 2008. “FSSD” offers the diehard Testament loyalist the best of the tracks from their first two albums as far as its band members were concerned. The tunes while re-recorded using the technology of the time come off as not having one ounce of over-cleaning done, nor being too produced to be able to enjoy the rawness and brutality that Testament so often delivered during this time. From beginning to end this is a powerful listening experience that makes a Metal fan wonder how this band took a little longer in reaching some of the heights enjoyed by the first wave Thrash Metal bands.

The album finds the following members from the historic lineup on point with Chuck Billy (vocals), Eric Peterson (guitar) and Alex Skolnick (guitar) who are joined by John Tempesta (drums) and Steve DiGiordio (bass) and while the album originally came to us in 2001, its 2008 return could not have been a better idea based on the fact that the “Classic Lineup” of the group had reunited and recorded a live album called “Live In London” and would also be delivering new material that was definitely going to set the Metal world on its ear. Some might find issue that Clemente is not involved on drums, but I didn’t mind as I felt Tempesta was a more consistent player. Overall this is a sonically superior collection of the bands early works and songs like “Over The Wall” and “Disciples Of The Watch” sound as fresh as they did when we first heard them. Chuck Billy handles most of the vocals on the album but there are two tracks that the bands legacy fans will really enjoy and these are the vocal appearances of the bands original singer Steve Souza who returns to bring us “Alone in the Dark” and “Reign Of Terror”. A booklet is included that sports cover art that can only be viewed as “very evil and very Metal” and while lyrics for all of the songs are presented there are no photos to enjoy. Oh well, I guess I can deal with that and move on without complaining. If you are either an Old or New School fan of the Metal than you can definitely upgrade your musical library by adding this album of revisited material. It should provide necessary reminder about how good and powerful Testament music remains and spark you to once again raise the horns for the band as they continue to lay waste to the audiences around the world today.

Track Listing:
1. First Strike Still Deadly
2. Into The Pit
3. Trial By Fire
4. Disciples Of The Watch
5. The Preacher
6. Burnt Offerings
7. Over The Wall
8. The New Order
9. The Haunting
10. Alone In The Dark
11. Reign Of Terror

Official Website: http://www.testamentlegions.com

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