Gave up on Testament just after the Practice What You Preach album. Dunno why really, cos it was a really good album. Guess the whole thrash scene at the time was just begining to sound all too alike. Much like some scenes are doing today. Something new and different emerges to catch my interest for 5 minutes. But still, the new album The Gathering has been gathering (sorry!) great reviews in loads of zines, donít think Iíve read a bad one yet, so I thought Iíd take the plunge and try and get reaquainted.

So, how is it? Lovely thanks. Itís not treading down any new territory, but itís nice to hear some great riffs again. Chuck Billy mixes up his more commercial vocal style ie a nod to Metallica, with a more death metal like grunt. And of course, Dave Lombardo plays on this one, doing what he made his name doing, laying doing a thunderous and awesome beat. The thing with this style of music, much like all I guess, was that after a while the ideas left bands, and we were just left with "the riff". Which everyone was using. And itís a risk that Testament obviously run. Luckily theyíve managed to package things into some great songs, remembered little bits of light and shade stuff and so it retains the attention. Highlights for me are D.N.R, 3 Days in Darkness with itís glorius chugathon riffing, melody and ohwhoh singalong and especially Fall of Sipledome which just has a great riff that switches between two styles through. Simple but highly effective. And itís when you hear great things like this that you remember just how great the thrash scene really was

If youíve not listened to this style before, why not give it a shot. Add a little variety to your musical lives. Nice one. Makes me wonder why I deserted them in the first place, but hey, thatís what I did.

Serial Thrilla Vol IV. Century Media

Another of the Century Media mini-samplers.

Moonspell I was under the impression were gothic. Well the inclusion of some electronic sounding drums and those deep deeeeeep kind of vocal doesnít really gothic make. Itís ok as a song, nothing stands out. At least it didnít go on as long as Type OíNegative do.

Next is Stuck Mojo. A band that I dunno kind of flatter to deceive to an extent. This is taken from the live album, and in Not Promised Tomorrow, they highlight on of their better songs. Itís just that theyíve also got a hell of a lot of ordinary songs. Dunno, live theyíre always pretty good, and maybe the full album showcases that and a collection of their better song.

Next is Scheitan with a track called Marionette. No idea of anything about this band. Chugs along quite nicely, some nice touches around the chorus. Wouldíve benefitted from a more melodic vocal than it gets, which are semi-growl semi-shout sort of thing.

Skinlab offer up a Bad Brains track, The Messengers, apparently from a Bad Brains tribute. Donít like tribute albums anyway, and sorry only original Bad Brains should be allowed. Itís of course a good song, and delivered well as a song in itís own right. Itís just not right here because it should be done by the BB and no-one else.

Next are Haste with The Absentee. Again, I know nothing about this band. Nice enough riff there, sounds a bit nu-metal. Sounds like different vocalists doing their thing. Not too bad.

Runemagick are next, with a track called Dreamvoid Serpent. Guess what? I know nothing about this band. Ha, a pattern emerges! Vocally sounds like theyíre going at that death metal sort of thing, but the music is more interesting and doom laden and with bells in there.

Zonata contribute Dream Child. Guess what? Iím not even bothering to say it. Sounds Euro metal like to me. Speedy, melodic, Michael Kiske like vocals and melodies.

Finally a band I do know something about. Exodus, with the title track from the live Another Lesson In Violence album. Yeah, maybe I should invest in this one after all. Been a bit wary cos all this kind of "letís reform and see how it goes" malarky, ending in a live album sounds suspect to me. But they do sound as if they managed to recreate things pretty well.

I guess the ultimate test for these kinds of things is whether they encourage you to go out and buy any of the albums by the featured artists. Me personally? Must admit Iíve not bought any at this point in time.

Time for new MONK ROCK! The new single from Monkey Boy - The Aquatic Ape Theory. Had to buy it as soon as I found it. Beware all that enter here, there is a bass overload. Rothko join the monks for a 5 bass / no guitar workout. Muahahahaha ha. Yeah. Mmmmm.

Anyway, this starts off with the band monkeying around (sorry, I had to do it, Iíve been stressed and these things just pop out) doing an impersonation of Steven Hawking as they introduce first track Fish For a Quid. The great thing about the Monk is that although thereís no guitar here, they manage to make the bass guitars sound distinct and create a full sound that means there is no need for guitar. I canít explain. You need to listen for yourself. Sure, thereís elements of Primus running through their music, and if the thought of Primus scares you or turns you off, then you may struggle. But thereís a song here, and they manage to bring it all round. Try it, go on, you know you want to. Thereís such a variety of music out there. Donít believe all the doom mongers bemoaning the lack of a scene in the UK.

The final track is the 9 minute bassathon with Rothko. Much like the Rothko album, which is reviewed elsewhere in here, 5 basses actually work. Itís not a noisefest, thereís stuff like melody in there. Itíll be hard for some people to get their heads around, but then thatís the whole Monkey sound for you. And itís one of the things that appeals most about them.