First Strike Still Deadly (Reissue)
posted on 3/2008 By:
So, here we have the latest in what seems to be a stream of re-releases coming from the ass end of Testament's catalog, consisting of the late 90s (Testament's wild death metal adventure: Demonic) through this (the album you're reading the review of at this very moment).
For the uninitiated, First Strike Still Deadly is Testament re-recording eleven of the "Greatest Hits" from their first two albums. Those of course being The Legacy and The New Order. Not unlike Suicidal Tendencies' Still Cyco After All These Years, Anthrax's Greater of Two Evils or Destruction's Thrash Anthems, the modern crunch of Testament sweeps in on the old material, modernizing, but still not deviating from the original formulas of the songs.
I do wish the songs selected on this thing weren't the usual suspects. I could've used "Eerie Inhabitants", "Do or Die" or "C.O.T.L.O.D". It also would've been nice to have gotten some Practice What You Preach or Souls of Black on here, but I digress.
What does make this worth the listen are the individual performances here, mainly the returning parties of drummer and lead guitarist. Alex Skolnick seemed to have picked up some licks in all his schooling over the nine years or so he was not in the band. His solos absolutely shred and truly stand out here. Not that they didn't before but I'm sure the onset of modern production and this guy named Andy Sneap had something to do with the extra beef. The solo on "Into the Pit" is played with all the notes played clean and semi-muted this time around and it's just one of the treats.
John Tempesta of course did time with White Zombie as well as Rob Zombie during his departure and that $20K drumkit he's probably playing sounds fantastic. Though John didn't play these songs originally, he does them justice and plays everything to a T with his own occassional embellishments.
Steve DiGiorgio also lends a hand this time around and he does his thing. Though not as much as he does usually, it seems as if he knew what he needed to do this time around and he simply plays the songs the same way Greg Christian played them in the 80s. Which I think is a noble thing to do, especially if you're a hotshot bassist.
Then there's Eric and Chuck. Chuck sticks to how he sings the songs live these days and belts out the occassional roar thing that he does, but for the most part it's just Chuck re-doing these songs. Mind you, he sounds awesome. Eric's guitar sounds crunchy and he deserves some kudos for shredding as well. We also get a cameo of original Testament (or should I say Legacy) and ex-Exodus vocalist Steve Souza, lending his pipes to "Alone in the Dark" and "Reign of Terror". Unfortunately, I wish they would've just let Chuck sing these songs as they're two of my favorites and I'm only familiar with the Chuck versions. That and I've never been a massive Souza fan. But props for including your original singer Testament people.
The downside of this particular version of FSSD is that it really doesn't offer anything new. No bonus tracks, lame artwork, and I can't even tell if it was remastered so I have to say it wasn't. Not that you could even remaster this. That and in lieu of the forthcoming Formation of Damnation full-length, this seems a little irrelevant seven years after its release. I don't know why this got re-released as I can still find it in stores (though I can take a wild guess; $$$....which doesn't make sense either because no one buys CDs anymore...anyway). If you already own it, there's no point whatsoever in buying it again, unless you're just that much of a freak.
On a lighter note, we only have about three weeks until the first Testament album in nine years, so you got that goin' for 'ya.
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