This album saw a reunion with Gene Hoglan, who played drums on the band's 1997 album Demonic. During the recording, Hoglan filled in for Paul Bostaph due to his "serious injury".Chris Adler of Lamb of God provided drum tracks on the iTunes bonus version of "A Day in the Death".Dark Roots of Earth is also the last Testament album with bassist Greg Christian, who left the band for a second time in January 2014.
"Native Blood" was released as a single from the album on July 20, 2014, both as a download and a limited edition 7-inch single. A video was made for the song as well. Previously, "True American Hate" was released as a free download.
"Native Blood" was described as being about Billy's Native American heritage. "True American Hate" was written about the prevalence hatred, particularly anti-Americanism, in younger generations around the world, often perpetuated by their upbringing. Billy has described "Cold Embrace" as being about "a girl becoming a vampire and never being able to see the sun again." He added that the band hoped to pitch it for a Twilight movie. "Dark Roots of Earth" was described as being a metaphor about the band. "Rise Up for War" is about war.
Dark Roots of Earth has received mostly positive reviews. Ryan Ogle of Blabbermouth.net awards the album eight-and-a-half stars out of ten and states, "This album is anything but a rehashing of former glories. The skilled interplay between Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson, which features a wall-to-wall showcasing of intricate and harmonized runs, back-and-forth soloing, hooky riffs and metallic perfection, is at the centerpiece of this album. The duo displays everything that made them among the most formidable guitar teams on the late '80s / early '90s while placing everything into a modern context." Ogle also praises the music a "noticeably different vibe than its predecessor by leaning more towards their (now) classic American thrash roots", while he describes the album as a "2012 take on Testament's classic and pioneering sound."
Dark Roots of Earth sold over 20,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release, and reached number twelve on the Billboard 200—Testament's highest U.S. chart position to date. By March 2013, Dark Roots of Earth sold around 60,000 copies in the U.S.[broken citation]
To promote the album, Testament embarked on US and Canadian tour co-headlining with Anthrax and openers Death Angel in fall 2012. The three bands had already been touring the US together since fall 2011, with Anthrax supporting their 2011 album Worship Music.
In November 2012, following the dates with Anthrax and Death Angel, Testament embarked on a U.S. headlining tour with Overkill, Flotsam and Jetsam and Australian band 4Arm.