BY: TJ FOWLER
Available: October 28th, 2016
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Anyone who has been a metal fan for very long, know well the influence of Testament on the genesis of thrash metal coming out of San Francisco. Through the years Testament have went through a few style changes such as in the 90’s when the band dabbled a bit in the death metal style vocals. A few years ago the band released ‘Dark Roots of Earth’ this is when the band seemed to again transform itself again…into a true heavy metal juggernaut. The band sounded fresh, heavy and relevant.
So now we come to the band’s newest release ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’. If I thought ‘Dark Roots of Earth’ was Testament in top form then ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’ is Testament maintaining that excellence and even outdoing themselves on several of the songs. ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’ is a true masterpiece in the Testament catalog and is a must have for both fans of the band and heavy metal fans alike.
I want to talk about the two big stand out tracks for me on ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’. They are The Pale King and Neptune’s Spear. The Pale King in particular I found to be a truly great song both lyrically and musically. I love how this song weaves a story about some evil entity that is eons old and has come to subjugate the world. It reminds me a lot of Hastur from the Cthulhu Mythos. The music and the riffs fit each other perfectly for this song and along with the lyrics makes The Pale King an instant classic that should be included in the band’s live setlist for many years to come.
Neptune’s Spear follows the same vein as The Pale King in terms of crafting a well thought out story with super catchy riffs and lyrics. Though I think The Pale King is the stronger of the two songs. But still Neptune’s Spear is a very strong track.
Another thing about the ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’ that I noticed was the overall theme of the album. There seems to be more of an horror style to this album than in the previous Testament offering. Or I should say maybe more of an H.P. Lovecraft styled horror. I thought this was an interesting direction the band took on some of the songs as it really paid off, again, with The Pale King as the prime example.
Also, I have to talk about Chuck Billy’s vocals. The man never sounded better and if not for his great vocal style to go along with these lyrics, ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’ would not be anywhere the album it is. The man knows how to still crank out some killer vocals and not go full death metal like in the 90’s. Which to me is a win-win!
I can’t stress enough how fresh Testament still sounds after all these years. ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’ takes the listener on a wild ride through cosmic terrors, government conspiracies and the depths of human despair and desperation to deliver one hell of a metal album . If you like heavy riffs, esoteric lyrics and pure thrash metal then ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’ is going to welcome you in with open fangs!