Continuing on the tremendous success that the first wave of thrash achieved, Testament were a crucial piece of the thrash puzzle to keep the flag flying. Their run in the late ’80s and early ’90s is on par with anyone in the genre. Chuck Billy’s melodic aggressive vocals blended with Eric Peterson’s indomitable riffs are legendary.
Reuniting with legendary guitar player Alex Skolnick in 2005, Brotherhood Of The Snake is their third release since reestablishing their presence in the metal community. Their last two albums have been both critically hailed and praised equally by their fan base. Can Brotherhood Of The Snake continue the amazing run of quality and success that one can expect from a brand new Testament album?
From the outset, the title track blasts out of the speakers and one is taken back to the era of The Gathering. Vocalist Billy blends melody with aggressive guttural roars. His performance is as powerful and forceful as ever. The chorus is instantly memorable with blast beats alternated throughout.
There isn’t a misstep to be found. At only 45 minutes there isn’t any room for filler. Tracks like “The Pale King,” “Stronghold” and “Seven Seals” make for an incredible upfront experience as each track is like a clinic on thrash metal. The material bounces from blazing fast to mid-tempo head crushers as the songs are precise and some moments verge on death metal.
Guitar genius Alex Skolnick didn’t contribute to the songwriting this time around, but his style is layered throughout. “Black Jack” finds him utilizing a wah to full effect as he lays down one of his more melodic leads. He shreds all over “Neptune’s Spear” and “Born In A Rut.”
Testament absolutely tap into their anger on the relenting “Centuries of Suffering.” It’s a tour de force that has an incredible breakdown with lightning quick tremolo picking and blast beats. Billy roars back to their Demonic period on the inhuman chorus. The album ends on a high note on the multi faceted “The Number Game.” Peterson utilizes impressive down picking in the verses before executing classic thrash riffs in the chorus.
Drum god Gene Hoglan is once again behind the kit and his blast beats and meticulous fills are completely identifiable. Joining him is returning bassist Steve DiGiorgio who last played with Testament on 2001’s First Strike Still Deadly. The rhythm section is one of the strongest in metal as both Hoglan and DiGiorgio are masters of their perspective instrument.
Brotherhood Of The Snake never lets up and is face melting front to back. Their most aggressive platter since 1999’s The Gathering, the material fits perfectly among the Testament catalog. It’s equally on par with their last two offerings as Testament still shows this willingness to expand their sound and blend new styles with their classic thrash approach.
Testament do a masterful job of blending their old school sound with modern tendencies. Juan Urteaga’s production is spot on and captures a less polished version of the band. Billy’s ability to compose melodic memorable melodies over Peterson’s non stop riffing is magic as they continually show why Testament are one of the best bands metal has given birth to!
(released October 28th, 2016 on Nuclear Blast Records)