I’ve been feeling very nostalgic today. It all began when I popped in the DVD remaster of Testament’s Seen Between the Lines, a hodge-podge of live clips and backstage antics shot during the legendary thrashers 1991 “Clash of the Titans” tour with Slayer, Megadeth and Suicidal Tendencies.
I was only starting to get into metal fourteen years ago and seeing this undiluted blast from the past has made me long for my teen years where I didn’t need to worry about debt, where all I needed to spend my money on were comic books, videogames and CDs. You know, the important stuff.
Seen Between the Lines is also a taste of what never really was for me. See, I was 12 when this thing originally came out on VHS. I didn’t actually go to my first metal concerts until four years later. I just missed the point in time where sleeveless band shirts, white high tops and jeans so tight you can practically see each nut were cool. Bummer.
Another thing that makes this DVD so interesting is knowing what was still to come for Testament. In 1991, the original Atlantic Records lineup of Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, Greg Christian, Alex Skolnick and Louie Clemente were still kicking ass, before what some called their attempt at gaining Metallica-like success with The Ritual (1992), before Skolnick decided he didn’t want to play metal anymore, went yuppie and became a respected jazz guitarist, before Clemente got out of touring altogether and before the revolving door of drummers, bassists and guitarists invaded the Testament camp.
For nostalgic purposes, Seen Between the Lines is a worthwhile view. It’s certainly not worthwhile for the DVD-exclusive extras, a lame little pair of videos, “Dinner with Testament” and “Testament in Tokyo,” the biography you can easily access online or the amusing (for the wrong reasons) translation errors in the subtitles, like when Skolnick says in “Dinner with Testament” how he would love shares in Sony, only to have the subtitles tell of the guitarist’s desire for some of those fine “chairs.”
From a technical standpoint, the actual concert footage is rather horrible; it sounds like a fan in the back recorded it on a Walkman (which was created by Sony… coincidence?). Still, as a fan I could fill the snare and bass drums in my mind when the terrible audio could not, and it’s really the established fans that are going to buy this remaster anyway. It prompted me to pull out my old CDs and take a listen again, only to remember just how damn good those albums were. It also makes me wish I had gotten out to catch a show of their special reunion tour, which brought back Christian and Skolnick (but no Clemente) after so many years.
See, nostalgia can be a good thing (dated fashion sense notwithstanding). Hopefully, the reunion tour and the Seen Between the Lines re-release will be the first in a number of salvos to get Testament back in the spotlight, with the ultimate being their first studio album since 1999. Keep thrashing, guys.