Signs Of Chaos: The Best Of Testament


Mayhem / Atlantic Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Of all the heavy metal bands that had any lineage to the genre of thrash metal, the one band that should have experienced more success was Testament. While they have always maintained a loyal fan base, they were eclipsed by such acts as Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth (all of whom were just as deserving of the attention they received).

Signs Of Chaos: The Best Of Testament is a tribute to a band who have never received the attention they deserved. While some of the demonic imagery might be too much for more sensitive listeners (yeah, right... show me a sensitive male who listens to thrash), this collection of tracks all demonstrate just how good this band was and is, and covers almost every album in the band's catalog... except for two I can think of. We'll deal with that later.

Whether it was long-time guitarist Alex Skolnick, James Murphy, Eric Peterson or Glen Olivas providing the six-string guitar work, Testament has always featured a powerful guitar sound. The short intro "Signs Of Chaos" provides enough proof of this, never mind the fact that it will continue to be hammered into your head throughout the length of the disc. Tracks like "Alone In The Dark," "The Legacy," "Return To Serenity" and "The Ballad" all present a solid guitar tour de force, no matter who provides the lead or rhythm work.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Singer Chuck Billy undergoes an interesting transformation as Testament continued to forge ahead in the '90s. One of the more melodic singers in the genre, Billy went from a powerful vocal (with only a touch of screaming) in the band's early days to more of a growling vocal in more recent years. Unfortunately, this is not a change I saw as being for the better. After all, it was the strength of his vocals on tracks like "Souls Of Black" that kept things interesting to me; why he would choose to try and sound like a grind core vocalist is beyond me. (That type of a vocal ruins an otherwise great cover of the previously unreleased "Draw The Line" for me.)

Of the two unreleased tracks, "Sails Of Charon" is the most interesting track. I can't identify the original band that performed it, but to hear Testament put their own spin on the song makes a world of difference to my ears.

Of course, your view of Signs Of Chaos will depend on how long you've been following Testament. For the fans from the beginning, I would tend to think they would mainly like tracks from albums such as The Legacy and The New Order, while those who got into the group around the middle stage of their career (like myself) will probably find they like everything - sort of a smorgasbord of metal.

Ah, but this greatest hits collection is woefully incomplete. While it's listed in the discography, no selections are taken from the EP Return To The Apocalyptic City. Granted, this disc was a "changing of the guard" release, but I would think there was at least one track they could have pulled from it. (It's been years since I listened to that tape, so I'm not in a position to volunteer any suggestions.)

And as much as it was never released in America, the die-hard fans could have at least been placated by including one song from Live At Eindhoven. Better yet, why didn't they release this as a free "bonus disc" with the collection? Hell, even I have a copy of the record - and I got lucky, finding it in the "99 cent" bin many years ago in Evanston. Somehow, including at least one track from this Holy Grail would have made this package complete.

Ah, well, that's all nitpicking. Fact of the matter is, Signs Of Chaos: The Best Of Testament is a collection that lives up to its name, and metallers old and young should find lots to rejoice about on this collection.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mayhem / Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.