Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.
The guttural vocals are the biggest difference in this album compared to Testament's previous work
Thrash metal band Testament dives into unknown and uncharted waters with their 1997 studio album called Demonic. And this album is different than all the others released before it. Demonic sees vocalist Chuck Billy explore a different side of himself where he had not gone to before. He uses a true death metal vocal growl, similar to the song called "Dog Faced Gods" on the 1994 album Low.
The song "Demonic Refusal" starts with a countdown of ten that never finishes and then Testament shows us a vocal growl that they had never done before.
These kinds of guttural growls from Testament are not something we even hear all the time. Demonic may as well have been an experimental thrash metal album. Experimental thrash metal albums come under heavy criticism from long-time fans of certain bands and I’m willing to assume that Demonic is one of those albums that will be criticized until the end of time.
Early on, the band's weakness is evident with the song Together As One
The guttural, heavy vocal growl starts with the first song called "Demonic Refusal" and goes into the next song called "The Burning Times." This song is about the time period in history where some people were burned at the stake for being witches. For this album, Derrick Ramirez plays most of the bass guitars. And Gene Hoglan takes over the drum duties replacing John Tempesta. The song "Together As One" highlights the weakness of Testament as a band because in this instance, Chuck’s vocals are drowned out with the heavy, muddy guitar sound. Although the band makes a time change out of that section that is not really enough to redeem the song so this song will go down as one of the weakest songs in Testament’s history.
The song called "The Burning Times"
The songs Jun-Jun and John Doe are two of the better songs in the album
The song called "Jun-Jun" has a decent riff at the beginning that sounds sort of like something they would have had on the Low album, perhaps a better version of the song Shades of War. I can also hear a riff that is kind of similar to the song Chasing Fear. With the song "John Doe," Chuck Billy returns to the aggressive vocal style we had heard in 1994 and we hear somewhat of a heavy blues style sound in this song. The song is about a man who was raised as an orphan and abused. Therefore, he would never recover from his past and he ended up killing himself. With his death, he lost all his hopes and dreams. The song also has some laughing parts by Chuck Billy.
Other reasons why Demonic is Testament's weakest album
"Murky Waters" is a song about someone who has been left behind by his friends and betrayed as he is stuck in a river and he is not sure whether he will drown or not. These guttural death metal style vocals will cause many fans to feel betrayed and I wouldn’t blame them. Testament is suited to be a thrash metal band, not a guttural, death metal style band such as Avulsed. Demonic is Testament’s weakest album. There is even more heavy, muddy, distorted guitar sound in the song Distorted Lives. What happened to these guys? Chuck Billy lets out a short, guttural shout before he returns to this same vocal style which is hard to decipher and find out what he is saying. The song "New Eyes of Old" has a riff similarity to the song Low. However, this song is nowhere near as good as that one and will further drag down the album’s overall score. There are at least 4 songs that can be classified as sub-par. The album Low really only has two sub-par songs so Testament has dropped by at least 50% in the songwriting quality for this album. The song "Ten Thousand Thrones" describes what soldiers will do during times of warfare, sometimes even using chemical warfare which has a detrimental effect on the human race. The album ends with a short, heavy song called "Nostrovia." The best songs on the album are The Burning Times, Jun-Jun, and John Doe. This album is also average at best, getting no more than 70 out of 100 points.
Analysis of Testament's Demonic in 2019
Or is Demonic really Testament’s weakest album? Even if it is, that does not mean it is a terrible album. The heaviness that we heard in the album Low is still there and Testament has stayed true to the Bay Area thrash metal scene. The riffing for a thrash metal band is certainly worthy of praise.
Weakest Testament album
The song called "Jun-Jun"
List of albums by Testament from strongest to weakest
Practice What You Preach
The New Order
Souls of Black
The song called "John Doe"
© 2017 Ara Vahanian