As one of the biggest thrash bands on the planet, selling in excess of fourteen million records worldwide during thirty plus years of career, Testament are a band that could easily rest on their laurels. Instead, ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’, a largely conceptual affair documenting an alien secret society manipulating the human race some six thousand years ago, finds them playing harder and faster than ever before as they deliver a superb combination of furious speed metal riffs and badass choruses.
They certainly don’t sound like a band that’s pushing into the twilight years of their career. From the superfast opening to the massive ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’ through to the dizzying riffs of killer closing track ‘The Number Game’, telling a story of murder by numbers, it’s neck achingly fast. Sure, there is a heavy dose of 1986 as they whip through every speed metal trick in the book, but it sounds retro rather than dated and the album is irresistibly infectious. Any mosh pit would go mental for the urgent pummelling of a track like ‘Centuries of Suffering’
Whether it is on tracks like the superb ‘The Pale King’ or the mini-epic ‘Seven Seals’, vocalist Chuck Billy is at his melodic best delivering killer vocal after killer vocal. While lead guitarist Alex Skolnick is on fire, throwing out all kinds of rapid fire soloing, especially on the scorching ‘Stronghold’. In fact, the whole band is absolutely electric. The rhythm work is impeccable as the songs twist and turn through multiple time changes with numbers such as ‘Neptune’s Spear’ delivering a lesson in the epic with a fine instrumental section.
’Brotherhood of the Snake’ stands comfortably alongside the other big thrash releases of the year and is quite possibly Testament’s finest album to date. 2016 is shaping up to be the best year in the genre since 1986.
’Brotherhood of the Snake’ by Testament is released on October 28th on Nuclear Blast.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)