Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Thrash Metal
Release Date: October 28th, 2016
Chuck Billy – Vocals
Alex Skolnick – Guitar
Erik Peterson – Guitar
Stevie DiGiorgio – Bass
Gene Hoglan – Drums
Brotherhood of the Snake
The Pale King
Born In a Rut
Centuries of Suffering
The Number Game
A new Testament album is always creating excitement, at least with me. This five-piece group always delivered great quality – for more than three decades. What started under the flag of Legacy in 1983 developed to one of the most important thrash bands with eleven records of which most belong to the best Bay Area thrash metal ever brought up to a surface.
The next strike is now close to release date and it’s called “Brotherhood of the Snake”. It’s not a concept album even though some of the tracks are theme-wise connected. The ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’ is, true or not, going back on some old Sumerian scriptures telling the story of a secret society set-up by an alien named Ea. Without going too much into detail, it was this story that acted as a source of inspiration for some of the songs and the lyrics, like “The Pale King”.
The album starts furiously. From the first note onward all trademarks are present and it’s a typical Testament riff that introduces the title track. This tune has a merciless approach, something that goes for the entire record. In this context, the band did the right choice of deciding on this song as the name giver.
A classic thrash riff kicks off “The Pale King”. It’s a hard pushing number that is 100% Bay Area thrash. “Stronghold” takes it over and marks the third leg of this metal journey. The more I’m listening to the album the more memories from the mid 80’s come to my mind. Testament capture the vibe of those days, esp. from the “The New Order” era, and package it in a modern sound expression.
“Seven Seals” is kept in a more moderate pace without losing intensity, something that also goes for “Born on a Rut” with its melodic chorus. Time for another metallic sledgehammer, time for “Centuries of Suffering”. This tune is spot on with the band focusing on the essence of their sound. Again I was reminded of the Legacy days.
The galloping “Neptune’s Spear” can easily live up to the quality of the mentioned tracks before “Black Jack”, one of the fast tracks, takes your breath. It’s a raging song with Chuck Billy at his best.
“Canna Business” is another example of these songs that doesn’t take any prisoners. Three and a half minutes long the track reflects puristic thrash metal on a high technical level – a combination that might sound like a contradiction, but the band shows that it isn’t.
With “The Number Game” the end of this fantastic long player comes closer. It’s the last song on “Brotherhood of the Snake” and the tune brings it home. A powering rhythm section, monstrous riffs, and Billy’s excellent thrash voice makes this song to a grand finale.
“Brotherhood of the Snake” underlines that Testament belongs to the spearhead of thrash metal. These five guys kept the early spirit of thrash metal and translated it into the here and know. Testament doesn’t have to reinvent their sound. They develop their trademarks with each long player and in the end, it’s like with good wine – the older the better.
Reviewer: Markus Wiedenmann