Testament - The Formation of Damnation (2008)

Article originally published on metalonvinyl.net on 1st December 2010.

Testament, a band who may have been overshadowed for much of its career by bands like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and perhaps to a lesser extent Anthrax, has released The Formation of Damnation after a nine year wait from their previous album, The Gathering.

After the personal issues many of the band members have had during the the time following The Gathering, it’s understandable that there has been such a delay. Lead singer Chuck Billy was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, forcing him to undergo chemotherapy, while guitarist Eric Peterson suffered from a triple fracture in his leg during a tour in 2004.

Luckily, both band member made a full recovery and progress toward The Formation of Damnation continued over the following years.

For the first time since 1992's The Ritual, re-joining the San Francisco bay area thrash original, Alex Skolnick resumes his role as lead guitarist. Also, for the first time since 1994's Low, Greg Christian returns on bass guitar. Eric Peterson, fellow founding member of Testament, and traditionally rhythm guitarist for the band joins Alex Skolnick in lead guitar duties.

Packaging and Sound Quality

The album that I managed to pick up was the picture disc version of the vinyl. I know that this is not the ideal format in terms of sound quality, but the picture disc was the only version I could get my hands on at the time. It's not that all picture discs have bad sound quality; it's just more likely for one to be of a lesser quality that if it were pressed on perhaps standard black vinyl. The theory is that picture discs usually have a thinner amount of vinyl so as to accommodate for the picture on the inside. Not only that, but because picture disc vinyl has to be clear, it doesn’t have the agent that is in black vinyl that supposedly makes it smoother and quieter.

The sound quality and fidelity on this one seems to be reasonable however, with no obvious imperfections such as pops or cracks. I wouldn’t call it high fidelity by any stretch of the imagination, but it serves it’s purpose.

Album waveform
Track "More than Meets the Eye" waveform

Fidelity aside, the vinyl doesn’t sound as jarring and compressed as the CD, so in this respect it is quite listenable. It is using either a different master or at least a toned down version of the CD master. One could make a better judgement of this perhaps if I had the standard black vinyl pressing.

One thing that I did find was a slight whirring noise in the quiet bits between tracks, but this is completely unnoticeable when a song is playing.

The artwork that is presented on the cover and on the disc is quite intricate. Eliran Kantor, the artist behind many heavy metal covers has put a lot of work into creating something quite unique.

A solid thrash metal record.

Very Nice. Comes in a clear plastic sleeve and impressive artwork all round.

Sound quality:
Well, it’s a picture disc so you can’t ask for much.

Final thoughts:
An album which was long awaited but proves that Testament haven’t lost their touch. Nice packaging and artwork on the vinyl, but being a picture disc it loses marks for sound quality.