Published Aug 14, 2012For the love of all that is metal, will Testament ever put out a bad album? Here, former drummer Gene Hoglan (Death, Strapping Young Lad, etc.) returns to the fold to provide the backbone for the always-impressive thrash band. Like their 2008 comeback disc, The Formation of Damnation, this is Testament at their finest. Unlike their peers, Testament just don't make missteps (the album could be a couple songs shorter, but that's my biggest complaint), continuing to craft thrash that's mature, heavy and aggressive in all the best ways. Between this and the last Kreator release, it's been a great year for thrash.
Hey, how's it going? What are you up to today?
Guitarist Eric Peterson: Doing good, thanks! Right now, I'm on tour in Europe, in Germany to be exact, and getting ready for one of the bigger shows were doing, the Wacken Open Air festival.
Congrats on the new album! How are you feeling about it?
Thanks, yeah, so far so good. It's been three or four days now since its release and it seems to be off to a great start, entering number-one positions in iTunes in the metal and rock charts in Canada and North America. This is a record that I think people will pass on to others as a "you have to get this one!" kind of record, you know? I feel that if anyone out there ever had a doubt about Testament, I challenge you to take a chance on buying The Dark Roots of Earth. You won't be dissatisfied if you're looking for, and craving, epic and melodic thrash metal that harkens back, modernly, to the glory days of records like Master of Puppets, in my honest opinion. I know that's a big comparison, but it's true!
How do you feel this compares to your last album?
Formation was a stepping-stone for the next record. Sometimes you have to paint a picture to see the next more clearly. It was during the end of the writing sessions, for me, that I got a sneak glimpse in a dream of what the next record would sound like. Sounds crazy, I know, but I got to hear and taste it in a dream! I'm not sure if they are the same songs I heard in my dream [laughs], but it led the way of what was to come.
What was it like working with Gene on drums again?
I had most of the riffs and ideas of what the drums would do, but some of the songs were still in my head and hadn't been recorded yet. Gene basically had a crash course in brain surgery and learned and moulded all of the ten tracks in a week's time. That's amazing: to not only learn them, but make them sound owned is a whole other level.
Did you feel like you had expectations to fulfill after releasing such a strong comeback disc with Formation?
Oh, yeah. Like I said before, once Formation was done, and even before, I knew that the pay-off, musically, was going to be on the next one. I've never, ever had a premonition like that either. Weird? Fate.
You had Chris Adler of Lamb of God playing drums on one song. How was that?
Basically on that one song, "A Day in the Death," we were on the West coast and Chris on the East coast – actually, he was getting ready to start recording his newest record, so it kind of worked out perfect, because recording-wise, he was all set in that regard. But this was an Internet jam, basically [laughs]. There was no way to jam on this song with him so I sent him a MP3 demo and explained what I liked about it and what didn't and crossed my fingers! The outcome was that he delivered the goods.
I've always loved your, for lack of a better term, "ballads" and "Cold Embrace" continues that tradition. I just feel like you guys always pulled those off with a great deal of class. Do you enjoy playing them?
Big time, yes – there is so much feeling and atmosphere in songs like that. "Cold Embrace" is part of the ride on the record, but it's the epic journey it takes you on that hits! That song has been around for a while – this is what happens when Alex [Skolnick, guitars] and I collaborate musically. Chuck [Billy, vocals] also found his way on that one. It was a great song to begin with, but with the right vocals on top it becomes perfect. It took him a while to find his way, but sometimes it's just right there in front of you, melody-wise, you know?
There's a bit of an old-school thrash resurgence going on, with bands like yourself and Anthrax putting out really strong albums. Did you ever think that in 2012 this would be happening?
Yes, 2012 has been imbedded in our thoughts since we came up with a saying in one of our songs from 1999's The Gathering: "Three days in darkness in 2012!" And, of course, of all of the prophecies, I knew it would bring something metal-y strong [laughs].
Read a review of Dark Roots of Earth here.