On May 15, 1992, "Testament" released their fifth album, "The Ritual".
This is the band's last album in their classical lineup, with drummer Louie Clemente and super guitarist Alex Skolnick, who will return to the band in 2005.
The album marks a turning point for the band musically and its experience in other musical directions, including more melodic and slower songs. This is not a significant change as the old and familiar "Testament" can still be found on the album in heavy and fast sections like "Agony". On the other hand, there are quieter and more melodic tracks like "Return To Serenity", which is perhaps the best metal ballad ever written, and also more progressive and mystical tracks like the excellent theme song "The Ritual".
When the album first came out there were those who criticized "Testament's" attempt to follow in the footsteps of Metallica's black album, which came out a year earlier. Listening to songs like "Electric Crown," "So Many Lies" and "Let Go Of My World" might explain what those critics meant. Today, however, it can already be said that the criticism was a bit excessive and the years that have passed since the album's release unequivocally prove that it was simply not properly appreciated. The songs mentioned above are absolute anthems that we listen to up to this day.
True, the old and familiar "Testament" softened a bit on this album and focused more on melody and emotion, but still, this album is better than many other albums released at the time in the thrash scene. On this album, the band reached musical maturity. Chuck Billy proved he can sing and Alex Skolnick has shown that metal can hit you hard even without fast guitars and aggression.
The bottom line, this is a good album by a band trying to go in a new direction at a time when the thrash scene has almost reached saturation, and there is nothing wrong with that. On the contrary! It proves how versatile and diverse this band is.
If you are looking for a classic thrash at Testament, this is definitely not the place to start. However, if you're looking for a bit of variety, like Chuck Billy's voice clean and less rough, and you have no aversion to melody and slower rhythms, then take 55 minutes of free time and enjoy an extraordinary moment in the career of this great band.