testamentTestament – Trial By Fire (Skolnick/Peterson/Billy) b/w Nobody’s Fault (Tyler/Whitford) 1988

Taken from the album The New Order, which hit 136 on the Billboard Hot 200 and ultimately broke the band as a commercial prospect, this Testament classic still sounds massive today.

Had there been a big five when it came to thrash metal monsters breaking out of the US in the late 80s then Chuck Billy and his bombastic crew would have made the cut.

As it was the Big Four – Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax – enjoyed even greater success and remained in a superstar club all of their own. But tracks like Trial By Fire prove Testament’s class and those of us who have witnessed the band live in 2009 will testify to the fact that they’re still going strong.

What makes this UK issue so listenable and collectible is the B-side – a raucous version of the 1976 Aerosmith classic Nobody’s Fault from the band’s Rocks record. For Testament to cover this track at a time when they were only just beginning to break into the big league was a huge gamble but it works and then some. Rather than alienating their thrash-addicted fanbase it simply opened up the band to a wider and increasingly appreciative audience.

But one of the reasons why this anthemic offering has nudged out so many contenders to make The Vinyl Countdown’s Top 10 is its simple yet brutally effective artwork. Testament always boasted a belting logo which screamed metal and mayhem. Here it is in all its glory plastered across a plain black sleeve and oozing evil. Brilliant.