Release Date: 05/05/88
Testament’s The New Order is a latter-day classic from the golden era of thrash metal.
It’s certainly a silly and contentious exercise in futility attempting to ascribe who would be #5, if there were a Big Five of American thrash metal, but if, gun to my head (This is America, after all), we were to do so, Testament heartily receives my vote.
Compared with Testament’s also excellent debut album The Legacy, The New Order features bigger and cleaner production, signaling their forthcoming popularity.
Although the vocalist and everyone else in the band are quite talented musicians, it is the massively underrated Alex Skolnik who steals the show. Few people can make the guitar sing like this guy does. Nearly every track on here features a Skolnik solo. Even the would-be ballad moments in moments like the opening track “Eerie Inhabitants” before it explodes, the instrumental interlude “Hypnosis”, and instrumental album closer “Musical Death (A Dirge)”, all show off Skolnik’s well-considered and melodic soloing capabilities. This dude was out-diming Dimebag Darrell before his playing even really mattered. He’s that good. For this reason alone, the album’s worth a listen.
The first four tracks on this thing… oh man. Just ragers. There’s an excellent balance between fast in your face thrash and that more mid-tempo stomp. I even hear some crossover thrash influence now and again. “Into the Pit” is the most thrash-tastic of these four. An absolute rager.
The band gives the listener some breathing room with the aforementioned instrumental interlude “Hypnosis”, before going on to launch another full-scale thrash attack with the excellent tracks “Disciples of the Watch” and “The Preacher” – a late album highlight.
Then it’s on to one of the albums, and the bands, more unusual moments. Somewhat out of place in one sense, but in another, a nice change of pace, as well as adding a good dose of melody – their cover of Aerosmith’s “Nobody’s Fault”. They make it much heavier though, turning a song that perhaps lives too much in the major scale relative to the rest of the album and genre, and sounds very of its time into something more interesting. The album gives us one more rager before going into the instrumental finale.
Ultimately, The New Order is a classic of thrash metal and belongs in even the most casual thrash metal listeners collections.
Highlights: “Eerie Inhabitants”, “The New Order”, “Trial by Fire”, “Into the Pit”, “The Preacher”