Testament and I have shared a lot of my life together. I actually bought their first album, The Legacy, because the cover was so awesome looking. Little did I know that vinyl purchase that the music contained on that album would far exceed the cool factor of the cover in sheer brutality and thrash brilliance. I played that album for months, over and over again. The combination of heavy thrash riffs, stupendous guitar work, melody in both vocals and instrumentation, and the pummeling, tribal drums was overwhelming and it took one listen to embed the hooks of Testament in me.
The next two releases, The New Order and Practice What You Preach, further cemented their place in my list of favorites, and the halls of the thrash legacy of bands. They came back full force with 2012’s Dark Roots of Earth and several world tours over the next few years, both headlining and opening for the likes of fellow thrash titans Slayer. Dark Roots of Earth was a return to form for the band and had more ties to The New Order than The Gathering or Demonic. The metal world also welcomed them back with open arms, me included!
If Dark Roots of Earth was a return to form, Brotherhood of the Snake takes that next logical step for the band. It has a heavier edge, but it still retains the Testament formulas we know and love so much. The guitar duo of Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson are fucking dynamic together, as always, but their work here really stands out. The solos are absolutely brilliant and there are more of them. Chuck Billy sounds more like he did on The Legacy and The New Order than he has on the previous few releases. Gene Hoglan is an absolute monster on drums and his talents truly shine here. All in all, I think this album has the heavy edge of The Gathering, the melody of The Legacy and the songwriting brilliance of The New Order!
The title track opens up the album in blistering form! You know from the first note that this is Testament and they are here to pillage and plunder. It’s fast, precise and every note just fits. “The Pale King” has a more melodic feel and sounds like it could have come straight from The Legacy! Billy’s vocals are nothing short of awesome, and he sounds like he did in his 20s. Stronghold is my favorite here. It’s fast with a throwback thrash feel to it, complete with gang-style vocals. The guitar work here is also crushing. This is the song that will stay in your head for weeks, and you will be singing it when you least suspect it. “Seven Seals” brings a more technical aspect back and has an evil overtone. Between the guitar work and the lyrics, this is another one of my favorites. It has a more groove-oriented feel than the other songs on the album and builds to a thrashy, glorious crescendo. “Born In a Rut” continues with that groove feel, then builds to a blistering bridge and chorus. “Centuries Of Suffering” brings you back to the old school thrash assault, complete with a chorus that requires headbanging.
Testament have one of their best albums with Brotherhood of the Snake. I absolutely love every song here, and the band really show that they are one of the best in the genre. The production is stellar and nothing is overproduced. It’s Testament doing what they do best, and that’s making great metal music!
Brotherhood Of The Snake is out October 28 on Nuclear Blast Records. Pre-order it here!
SkullsNBones Rating (Out Of 5):