If a Big Five of thrash existed, Bay Area’s TESTAMENT (or possibly EXODUS) would be included on the list. They were an important piece of the puzzle in the burgeoning thrash scene of the early eighties. 2008’s The Formation of Damnation (the band’s first release in almost 10 years with four-fifths of the original lineup) was one of the greatest comeback albums of all time. On its tenth release, Dark Roots of Earth, the band is brimming with confidence once again. They’ve managed to step it up a notch with its brand of aggression meets melody while retaining the tried and true Testament sound. It’s a mixture of Practice What You Preach, Souls of Black and Low, but with a modern melodic twang all rolled into one. The nine tracks are loaded with tons of variety, well-executed melodies, tasty Skolnick (and even Peterson!) guitar solos, and the throaty bellows of vocalist Chuck Billy are also spot-on. An added bonus is that powerhouse drummer Gene Hoglan is back in the band. At this point in the game, Testament doesn’t even have to think about what it is that makes up its classic thrash sound, it just develops naturally. The new material is melodic, cohesive and really packs a wallop. It’s just so damn enjoyable to listen to. Hail the new Testament!