May 2, 2008 - After a few years of covering this kind of stuff it's easy to get a little jaded. I can't tell you how many press releases sit rotting in my inbox announcing things like "Band X" is back together after a 15-year hiatus, featuring original member John Doe." Regardless of how good a newly reunited band may seem to be, there's something a little deflating when it doesn't include most of its original members. Such is the case with so many '80s metal bands that have resurfaced now that the genre is back in the public eye. Unfortunately, most are but a shell of their former incarnations.

In stark contrast, Testament's The Formation Of Damnation is literally a testament to all the major things that made the original movement so vital: power, precision and melody. And after so many years, it's a welcome addition. In an age of half-hearted reunions, the band has reemerged with four out of five of its core members. And with a new label and an impenetrable lease on life, Testament has put forth the latest chapter of Bay Area thrash...and it's a sizable one.

The instrumental "For The Glory Of…" starts things off in epic fashion, with churning riffs and guitar virtuoso Alex Skolnick's Eastern-flavored licks. "More Than Meets The Eye" comes complete with a medieval intro, eerie chants, and the intricate beats of former-Forbidden/Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph.

Lyrically speaking, the content strikes as a tad spiritual in spots. Titles like the aforementioned, as well as "Dangers Of The Faithless" and "Afterlife" imply a certain religiosity, and seeing as how vocalist Chuck Billy is a cancer survivor, the concept of faith may have played a role.

But whether the band's gotten religion or not, this is a killer comeback, one that benefits greatly from the return of Alex Skolnick, who's fiery solos are impressive throughout. Check the shred in "The Evil Has Landed" or in the title track. Not all is golden, however. Said title track falls a bit flat on the whole as Billy's vocals shift into full-on death mode, sounding forced and out of context. But we'll give him that one, 'cause criticisms aside, the album stands as one of the year's best metal offerings thus far.

Over the past 20 years or so, Testament has garnered much respect for sticking to its guns throughout fads and trends. With a fiery mix of vintage thrash, melodic metal and attitude to burn, this new album is as potent and as timely as anything currently on the scene.

Download Worthy:
1. "More Than Meets The Eye"
2. "The Evil Has Landed"
3. "Dangers Of The Faithless"
4. "Henchmen Ride"
5. "Killing Season"

IGN's Ratings for The Formation of Damnation
out of 10 click here for ratings guideGet Ratings Information