Testament
Brotherhood of the Snake

 

I can remember cruising through my local record store some 20 years ago as a young teenager and blindly purchasing Testaments Souls of Black solely on the cover art.  It was a rewarding purchase to say the least, and so began my admiration for one of heavy metals finest acts. What I now have come to fully appreciate and respect about this band is just how prolific and steadfast they have been over the course of their 30 years existence.  Current Testament annihilates most of their peers. Hell, the past two decades of Testament annihilates most of “The Big Fours” output, and Brotherhood of the Snake is a vicious demonstration of how unstoppable they are.

Not since The Gathering have I been so excited about this band.  They’ve released enough quality material since then sure, but nothing has seized my attention quite like this. Brotherhood of the Snake is a mix of The Gatherings heaviness coupled with classic Practice What You Preach thrash. That’s a winning combo in my book and the title track portrays this right from the start.  The opening riff is so menacing, then Chuck Billy comes in with one of his mighty roars, there is just no denying the sheer prowess of this band.

Brotherhood of the Snake holds some of Testaments fastest material in a long time and may hold some of the fastest material in their catalogue.   Over half of the tracks are full speed ahead.  “Brotherhood of the Snake,” “Stronghold,” “Centuries of Suffering,” “Black Jack,” “Canna Business,” and ending the album on “The Number Game,” there is really no down time on this record, and it’s 45 minute playing time wizzes by.  All ten tracks have a life of their own with great songwriting and hooks. They stick in your head and have you repeating the words. This could be an instant classic. “Seven Seals” is a favorite of mine, telling the story of end times inspired by the book of Revelations, and I’ll put my money down now saying this is one of the best songs the band has ever written. It’s a truly epic piece, with guitar wizardry throughout, and commanding vocal lines that compel you to raise your fist to the sky.

Again, utilizing the thunderous power of Gene Hoglan (The Atomic Clock) we can hear blast beats being used generously and he is a key component in making the unit sound so tight. Peterson and Skolnicks shredding on this record is just masterful and would make any axe-wielder wet their pants in excitement. Personally, it’s been years since an album has compelled me to pick up my guitar and learn the riffs like when I was a teenager. To me that alone makes this a killer album.

Chucks inspiration for the album title came from the story of a secret society started to protect humanity from the oppressions of religion.  The extraterrestrial origin of said society is an in depth story and an interesting read that can be had with a simple google search. Though not a concept album, elements of the narrative are sprinkled throughout the record as well as other biblical and political themes.

Eric Peterson had full writing duties on this record and from interviews I heard, none of the band had heard any of the material before entering the studio. Chuck Billy has been very vocal about his disdain for the making of this album and how it wasn’t enjoyable for them. Fortunately for us, the end result of their studio suffering is a blistering thrash record that cements them, yet again, as an underrated gem in the metal world. It’s records like this that make you venture back into the bands career and revisit albums that you may not have heard in years.  It is records like this that make you want to play your guitar.  It is records like this that make you clinch your fist, throw up the horns, and be proud to be a metal head.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shane Wolfensberger
November 7th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: guilliame

    Great players, pretty standard stuff. Not terribly exciting. Prefer 1994 Low.


  2. Commented by: stiffy

    Pretty exciting stuff for me. Haven’t really liked Testament this much in almost 20 years.


  3. Commented by: guilliame

    The riffs are so generic. This sounds like Metallica with better players.


  4. Commented by: Kevin E.

    Very average album, and I’m a big fan of theirs. “Canna Business” is in the running for worst track of the year. Laughably awful…


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