When Testament released Dark Roots of the Earth, they surpassed every expectation possible. They’ve always nailed solid releases, but this was the pinnacle, Machine Head had the Blackening, Carcass had Surgical Steel, you get the point. How would Testament do following their masterpiece? Real damn well it turns out!
For starters, when it comes to thrash, Testament are my favourite, since discovering them they always have been, so I had serious trepidation when asking for this to review. I went into this making sure to try and not compare it to the last release, I tried to go into it with a clear mind, but it is real hard when your expectation is so high! Turns out I had nothing to worry about.
Title track ‘Brotherhood of the Snake ‘opens up, being released early every metalhead worth their salt grabbed the chance to listen to this and instantly got welcomed by the typically outstanding riff-tastic beast that it is, ending in such an epic duel guitar lead, setting the tone for the album as a whole, it is all a monster. What follows after is what is important, ‘The Pale King’ brings in some pit worthy magic with outstanding leads from jazz metal guitar legend Skolnick.’ Stronghold’ smashes on hard and heavy with a break neck pace, the atomic clock of Gene Hoglan owns the drums and drives this monster hard. ‘Seven Seals’ takes on a mythical theme that has Chuck Billy use his outstanding vocal skills to own the track with a chorus that sounds like it will have the band struggle to be heard over any crowd.
‘Born in a Rut’ screams out personally for me with the lyrical content, Skolnick and Peterson rip out some outstanding hooks with some filthy groove bass lines from Steve DiGiorgio, without a doubt this is set to be a real crowd pleaser live. ‘Centuries of Suffering’ is as aggressive as the theme of the title, taking into account the attacks over the centuries on other nations. ‘Neptune’s Spear’ is among one of the stand out tracks, while the song brings out some great playing from the band, it is all a build up to the neo-classical that begins with the solo halfway through that blows ‘The First Strike is Deadly’ out the water. ‘Blackjack’ takes on gambling, bringing more pit thirsty action with outstanding duel guitar attacks and a great bit of lead playing despite its short endurance at 4:22 long.
‘Canna Business’ brings the battle of legalising cannabis against the pharmaceutical companies against, hopefully others will follow considering the positives that have come from it. Album closer ‘The Number Game’ comes around quick, but doesn’t lack anything when it comes to thrash brutality like the rest of the album with a machine gun attack of a breakdown. Amazingly, the album finishes as quick as that, on one hand that sucks, on the other, you do get to just stick it on again.
Since this album got sent my way, it has been hard to listen to anything but, it really is nothing like the masterpiece of ‘Dark Roots of the Earth’, and despite the concern it might have been pressured and rushed to write, it holds no punches and delivers one heavy bastard of an album, this thing comes at you like a tiger tank through your damn speakers. The sheer power and genius in every track is immense, Testament have always delivered, and this is no exception, they have been so damn consistent and never seemed to lack any love of writing and playing. If anything, it makes me wonder why so many other thrash bands kind of can’t (the big four anyone?). Many albums this year have come out that have been a strong contender of album of the year, which is great for new music, but if thrash is your thing, then this is it! I for one will not be putting this down any time soon, and I will be doing all I can to see them live next month, if only to see the struggle they have gone through in picking what to play live, such is the strength of this album! If you buy anything over the next week, make it this, don’t worry about the bills or food, this is what you really need!