Testament’s latest album is more icing on a very tasty thrash metal cake that’s been cooking throughout 2016.
Thirty years in the business and these guys are as savage as ever – indeed Brotherhood of the Snake is one of the fastest and heaviest albums they’ve ever attempted. The title track and opening cut gets right down to business with an expert blend of thrash and groove, furious stickswork from Gene Hoglan, roaring Chuck Billy vocals and blistering solo trade-offs between Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick. This last is one of the key aspects of this album: there’s lots of soloing, as if Skolnick and Peterson are pushing each other to new heights with every lead break.
Stylistically, Testament aren’t stepping too far out of the box on this one, just straight up and heavy thrash with plenty of groove and splats of melody and the band rarely slows down, as if feeding off some new energy. There’s not a complete absence of harmonies – check the crushing “The Pale King” or album highlight “Seven Seals” – but Brotherhood lacks the sing-along aspects of Dark Roots of Earth. It’s also not as diverse or interesting as the other thrash gem of recent weeks, Death Angel’s The Evil Divide, the over-arching storyline seems a little naff for a Testament album and a couple of tracks – ok, “Black Jack” – are just plain goofy. Still, even those things don’t knock it down too much because Brotherhood of the Snake is exactly the type of raging thrashfest that only old masters like Testament can deliver. Another staunch release from the legends.
1. The 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
9. Canna Business
10. The Number Game