Sometimes written "Test Department" or "TDA" - British industrial band formed in London in 1982.

If I would try to name one band that defines industrial music I would probably pick Test Dept. They weren't the first, and are not as well known as SPK, Throbbing Gristle or Einstürzende Neubauten (not to mention a bunch of later bands like Skinny Puppy or Front Line Assembly), but Test Dept's howled political statements and frantic hammering on metal is the essence of industrial to me.

From the beginning Test Dept. was a live act, with a lot of effort put into creating the correct atmosphere for their performances. The early gigs were usually set up in factories, sand quarries and railway stations, where they performed what can only be described as multimedia events on a megalomaniac scale (Jean Michel Jarre would give his right hand to have come up with some of those ideas...) The album A Good Night Out is a recording of one such event and gives a pretty good picture of the scale and intensity of a Test Dept. performace.

The socialist politics of the band are very prominent, especially in the early releases. They were supporting the striking Welsh miners and the money from the album Shoulder to Shoulder went directly to support the strike.

After the early (and most musically intense) period, the band released a few more mellow and almost ambient albums, with a strong influence from British folk music.

The mid-90's releases (e.g. Totality) and later are more dance oriented, with some oriental influences, but with some scrap metal hammering thrown in. You won't recognize much of the earlier energy in them, but I still find them worth a listen.

Suggested starting point for Test Dept: The Unacceptable Face of Freedom (One of my most valued albums). If you already are a hardcore industrial addict, you can go straight for Beating a Retreat, and get a few bonus video tracks as well...

Original line-up: