10 November 2016

Testament - Brotherhood Of The Snake

Testament are back with a new album, Brotherhood Of The Snake. It seems that 2016 has became the year of the old-school thrash revival with new albums by Megadeth and Anthrax both pleasing their respective fan-bases and getting good critical reviews. Hopefully Testament will continue this run of good form. I must say, it's refreshing to have proper old-school thrash again. Especially from Testament who although were in the second tier of 80's thrash, were one of the best. Unlike their peers who ended up going commercial, changing genres or releasing albums of diminishing quality, they were able to plow their own furrow throughout the decades that were to come. Granted, they too attempted to go commercial with 'The Ritual' (they wouldn't be the first band to do that, it was '92 and a few bands started chasing the Black Album money) but sharp abandoned that idea due to the album being a big bag of wet shit. Like I say, there was some solid thrash within this bands collective, which brings us nicely to their eleventh album. Produced by Andy Sneap, I'm guessing it'll have that heavy but familiar sound that his production generally has. Still, let's return to the apocalyptic city to go over the wall and into the pit for some thrash! Circle-pits on stand by...

1) Brotherhood Of The Snake - Aww yeah!!!  Headbanging before the intro is even up, that is a good sign! But instead of launching straight into a thrash masterpiece, the pace actually restrains itself initially. The thrash bits come during the choruses. Production sounds decent and there are some great technical riffs in there. Vocals by Chuck Billy veer between his usual style and the Death Metal influenced bellows from (sorely underrated) 'Demonic'.

2) The Pale King - And the thrash goes on!  Furious opening becomes tight, heavy, mid-paced verse. Decent solo in there too. Seems to be over quite abruptly...

3) Stronghold - Another thrasher, this is another great one! Thrashy verses but a slight groove and thump to the choruses. Another great solo too. Guaranteed to be snapping necks at the live show. Vocals are great on this too.

4) Seven Seals - Bit of a shift on this one,  not an all-out thrasher right away but an almost waltzing rhythm. Heavy enough though. Basically about the end of the world, so you know it's not going to be a cheery song! Things speed up slightly during the solo but this isn't your atypical thrash burner, this has atmosphere too.

5) Born In A Rut - Drums which sounds similar to 'Souls Of Black' (an album which could have been great if it hadn't been rush-released). Still, it's another great song, although slightly plodding. Doubt very much it'll get played live though. Nice effects on the cymbals at the end.

6) Centuries Of Suffering - That's more like it, something with a bit of pace! This should get a few pits going due to it's frantic thrash pace. Vocals are bordering on Death Metal in parts and a nice breakdown in the middle. Rhythms are so tight too. This is definitely an album highlight.

7) Black Jack - Song about gambling, this one is another thrash masterpiece. Heavy and with a decent pace, it might not thrash as hard as other songs on here but it does have a decent groove and swagger about it.

8) Neptune's Spear - Not too bad, mid paced stomper which hits the spot. Solo is decent too, mind, they've been pretty good throughout this album. Nice atmospheric outro too. Hopefully, Neptune didn't kill too many people with his spear, but this song certainly got a decent headbanging sesh going...

9) Canna-Business - Twin guitar harmony intro leads into a nice, storming thrash monster. Great solos amid a groovy outro which dissolves into FX wizardry. It's not too bad, however, one gets the feeling that we're somewhat front-loaded with this album...

10) The Number Game - We're coming back into the stratosphere in order to burn up on re-entry! This is certainly a good way to end the album. Heavy mid-section which manages to break the pace up a bit. Some great riffs too.

And that's all folks! The only thing which let's this album down is that it is slightly front-loaded. There definitely seems to be more awesome songs at the start of the album than at the end. Mind, the songs that are towards the end of the album are still decent, so it's not too bad. Please forgive the short nature of the blog, this IS a good album but it's also mostly thrash, hence the short nature as thrash can be a limited genre. Long time fans of the band should enjoy this and people yet to hear them? I can recommend this as a good start-off point. Now all we need is Annihilator to do a cracking album and we'll be complete!

8/10 - Oh you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart.

Chris J.

Top Track: Brotherhood Of The Snake.

This album is available on iTunes.
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