Testament - "Brotherhood Of The Snake" (CD)
"Brotherhood Of The Snake" track listing:
1. Brotherhood of the Snake
2. The Pale King
4. Seven Seals
5. Born in a Rut
6. Centuries of Suffering
7. Neptune's Spear
8. Black Jack
10. The Number Game
Reviewed by Diamond Oz on October 7, 2016
Ever since American thrash metal titans Testament reunited their classic lineup (save for drummer Louie Clemente,) and released "The Formation of Damnation" back in 2008, they've been riding high on a wave of admiration and momentum, which was proved to be well deserved with the release of the excellent "Dark Roots of Earth" in 2012. Four years later and with original bassist Greg Christian replaced by metal bass playing stalwart Steve DiGiorgio (who himself had been a member of the band before,) Testament returns with "Brotherhood of the Snake," their eleventh studio album and one would go as far as to say, their heaviest.
The title track kicks things off in true Testament style; crushingly heavy with soaring guitar solos and some of Chuck Billy's best vocal delivery in years, all of which remain a constant throughout the record. The song also features some wonderfully imaginative lyrics about a secret society from over six thousand years ago, a theme which is present throughout much of the album.
It leads into "The Pale King," a sneering beast of a track with some subtle but nonetheless definite nods to New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which can also be heard on other songs such as the groovy, "Neptune's Spear." Not only do Testament give props to these influences, they also create some musical passages reminiscent of their own work, with the superb "Stronghold" being similar in style to fan favourite, "The Gathering," while "Black Jack" conjures up memories of the more death metal tinged, "Low."
Of course, thrash is where the group excels at, which is proudly and loudly played with maximum energy on the likes of "Centuries of Suffering" and "Canna-Business," while there's plenty of groovy segments on the excellent "Seven Seals" and "Born in a Rut." It all comes together perfectly to create Testament's heaviest album to date. It's also one of their most interesting musically, thanks to the outstanding work of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, who are both on top form, while respected veterans Steve DiGiorgio and Gene Hoglan bring their unmistakable talents to the record.
Though "Brotherhood of the Snake" isn't a classic album, it's one with very few flaws, save perhaps for lyrics being a little too impressed with pseudoscience and questionable television programmes, which can create some great lyrics but get tiresome after a while, though thankfully not to the extent of Forbidden's, "Alpha Omega" record. All things considered, "Brotherhood of the Snake" is an excellent album that will delight fans of the band and win over new listeners, with plenty on offer to keep things interesting but grounded enough to not go too experimental.
Highs: "Brotherhood of the Snake," "Seven Seals," "Born in a Rut"
Lows: The over-reliance on conspiracy theory lyrics, and some tracks are less interesting than others.
Bottom line: Testament add another excellent album to an already highly impressive catalogue and create their most vicious work to date.
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