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Music Review: Testament – The Formation Of Damnation (Deluxe Tour Edition)

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When a band has been together in one form or another for over 25 years, they are often referred to as “survivors.” In the case of Bay Area thrash legends Testament, that term is literally true. Members of the band have battled cancer, a brain tumor, addictions, and lineup changes galore. Somehow, through all of this they managed to record their first album of new material in nine years, The Formation Of Damnation.

Originally released in late 2008, Formation was immediately recognized as one of the group’s finest efforts. It placed high on many critics’ Top Ten lists, and led to the band being invited to play on a couple of very high profile tours. Testament spent much of 2009 opening for the revived Judas Priest, and in 2010 joined the American Carnage tour with Slayer and Megadeth.

To capitalize on all the attention Testament has received from these shows, their label has issued a Deluxe Tour Edition of The Formation Of Damnation. Although I am not usually a big fan of these type of things, I think this one is worthwhile. It’s only a couple of bucks more than the regular version, and you get some pretty cool live stuff on the bonus disc.

Of course, the original 11-track The Formation Of Damnation CD is front and center, with the extensive lyric sheet/booklet intact. It comes housed in a new black slipcase that folds out to reveal a second disc inside.

The bonus disc is actually a DVD, and it has four tracks. Three were recorded live at the former Alcatraz prison and originally were shown as part of the weekly “52/52″ (“52 Bands/52 Weeks”) promotional campaign on MTV. The fourth is the video for “More Than Meets The Eye,” one of Formation’s best cuts.

The three live songs were well-chosen representations of Testament’s first run of glory in the late eighties. They perform “The New Order,” “Practice What You Preach,” and “Souls Of Black” with a vengeance. It is a nice taste of the power this group wields live, and the hometown Bay Area crowd eats it up.

The Formation Of Damnation is a great record for a number of reasons, and one that anyone who likes thrash should have. If you already own it, I don’t know if the second disc warrants buying the whole thing all over again, although there are superfans out there who definitely will. For anyone who does not already have it though, this Deluxe Tour Edition is definitely the way to go.

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