Practice What You Preach
Review by Felix on September 21, 2019.
I hate to say it, but Testament's third work was a disappointment. Its incoherent artwork - please notice the cracks in the dry ground while massive clouds are in the sky - appears as a bad omen. Practice What You Preach confuses me and I ask myself: what exactly do the guys preach? It seems that they spread the message of vapid, faceless and feeble metal with occasional thrash ingredients, because this - and almost nothing else - is what they practice here.
Thank God, there is a small number of good tracks and "Sins of Omission" is the best one. It presents a combative vocal performance of Chuck Billy and the catchy chorus has a very remarkable drive. Its mid-tempo approach allows some dynamic tempo changes and the decent flow is remarkable. It is a pity that the song - and, of course, the remaining material as well - suffers from the slightly powerless production. Okay, the bass is well audible and plays a pretty prominent role. Nevertheless, the compositions sound somehow light and the contributions of the single musicians do not result in a coherent overall picture. Despite the fact that I am listening to conventionally structured songs, everyone seems to play for himself. Thus, pretty decent tracks like "Nightmare (Coming Back to You)", the only lively tune, remain exceptional. "Perilous Nation", for instance, had the potential to be another decent number, but the very bad vocal line at the beginning of the bridge drives the song into the ground, no matter how dry the soil is. By the way, the chorus of "Time Is Coming" suffers from an equally shitty vocal line. Horrible experience.
Without offering good melodies, Testament overemphasize the melodic component. Especially the solos have an egomaniacal tendency which is usually not compatible with my understanding of thrash metal. We do not need guitar heroes, but good, fiery and thrilling songs. This is what Practice What You Preach cannot deliver. Its ten numbers meander on a sometimes more or less acceptable level and sometimes they are definitely below. The dynamic that gilded the highlights of The New Order is a thing of a past and the riffs fail to form strong and memorable tracks. "Envy Life", for example, has absolutely nothing to offer: no fury, no strong riffs, no melody. A classic filler with some almost embarrassing "oho" background vocals; the song comes, the song goes, and nobody knows what it wanted to say.
It is really shocking that guys, who have proven their admirable talent to write exciting thrashers, offer an uninspired, pretty lame album with such meaningless tracks. Maybe it is no surprise that the fittingly titled "The Ballad" belongs to the better pieces. On the one hand, it does not take a lot to be one of the better pieces, on the other hand it serves as evidence that Testament had lost their thrash metal compass. They had alienated themselves from their musical homeland and the result is a celebration of lukewarm mediocrity. Either you take a three-year sabbatical, or you use your precious time for something better than listening to the entire work. Just lend an ear to "Sins of Omission" and, maybe on a rainy Sunday, to "Nightmare...". That's enough.
Rating: 4.7 out of 10263