Man oh man, how I love thee, TESTAMENT. For nearly thirty years you have continually laid waste to my head and body with one pummeling album after another. And now here you stand before me with new record Brotherhood of the Snake set to release on October 28 through Nuclear Blast Records. Gotta be honest, Dark Roots of Earth was very good, but it didn’t live up to their potential the way The Formation of Damnation did. So, four years later, how does Brotherhood measure up? PRETTY MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMN WELL!! To say this disc is a welcome assault on your senses would be the understatement of the decade, Hell, maybe even the century.
Starting with the title track, the entire band rips into you with surgical precision. Chuck Billy’s vocals have never sounded better, the guitar tandem of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick go all Wolverine on your ass, and the rhythm section of Steve DiGiorgio (bass) and Gene Hoglan (drums) whips you up, down, and sideways. Un-fucking-believable! Oh, and THEN the unrelenting attack continues with “The Pale King” and “Stronghold”. This is seriously a tutorial on how you start an album, these three tracks, and that riff on “Stronghold” made me harder than a case of Viagra ever could.
“Seven Seals” is another tune that’s heavy as all get out, but I was also intrigued by the religious nature of the lyrics. I’ve always been fascinated by religion, no matter what it is. I don’t know why, but I just am. Either way, the rocking back and forth on this one made me come back to it a lot. DiGiorgio’s bass is particularly high up in the mix, slapping you across the face. “Centuries of Suffering” WILL fuck you up seven ways to Sunday no matter what you try to do to fight it. It’s over, you’re done. I really wasn’t sure where “Neptune’s Spear” was going at first, but it quickly turned into an all-out thrasher with some killer work from Hoglan. Fuck me, his drumming is off the hook on this record!
“Canna-Business” is exactly what you think it would be about, and the song just wrecks everything in a three-mile radius. “Born In a Rut” has flashes of the Practice What You Preach era and “Black Jack” is rife with gambling references while still shredding your head. Closer “The Number Game” was written by Billy and EXODUS’ Steve “Zetro” Souza, and is largely driven by DiGiorgio and Hoglan, with their uncanny ability to lock in. But at the same time Skolnick and Peterson show up with a Gatling Gun, ready and willing to mow down anyone and everyone in an absolute bloodbath. Overall, Brotherhood of the Snake is a fucking excellent record from TESTAMENT, and one that is guaranteed to be on my Top Albums list of 2016, bet on that!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Brotherhood of the Snake”, Seven Seals”, “Centuries of Suffering”, “Stronghold”, “The Pale King”, “The Number Game”