November 6, 2016

Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake album review

3.5 Stars out of 5

One of the godfathers of Bay Area thrash, Testament is still putting out quality albums and touring heavily nearly 30 years since their debut album. Their last few albums have been killers. 2008’s THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION and 2012’s DARK ROOTS OF THE EARTH both proved that Testament still had some fight left in them. Now four years later we get BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE and band members had been talking about going back to the more death metal sound of THE GATHERING for this record, so I was excited to hear it. Well, unfortunately that didn’t happen, but BOTS is still a solid Testament album worth picking up.

Things start off with the ass kicking title track, a vintage Testament galloper with wicked riffs from Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick and an almost Motorhead vibe to it, reminds me of “Rock and Roll” a bit. Chuck Billy sounds great here on the midrange and low vocals and the percussion and bass from the best in the business (Gene Hoglan and Steve DiGiorgio) is spectacular. Second track “The Pale King” is a little more subtle and melodic but still pretty heavy, lots of changes in the song and the solos are impressive. After that I think the album has a few missteps, “Stonghold” is just kind of noisy and silly, and “Seven Seals” feels a bit more accessible / commercial. “Born in a Rut” gets things back on track as a mid-paced stomper and then we get what I was looking for, the most savage song on the album “Centuries of Suffering”. This one kind of sounds like “The Formation of Damnation” and is really the only song on the album that would feel at home on THE GATHERING or DEMONIC. I wouldn’t call it a death metal song but it is pretty punishing and Chuck hits his lowest vocals here. “Black Jack” is decent, don’t think I’ve heard a Testament song about gambling before. Canna-Business is about pot legalization and sounds a little forced. I really like “The Number Game”, it sounds angrier than most of the other tracks and the drumming from Gene is great.

If most of BOTS sounded like “Centuries of Suffering” and “The Number Game” I’d probably give it 5 stars. I guess Testament didn’t want to get too deathy here and possibly shrink the fanbase, especially when they are doing so well. Instead we get an album with elements of TFOD and DROTE with little bits of THE RITUAL(!) in it. It is a good album, not on the level of their last two but worth owning for thrash fans. Recommended.

  1. Brotherhood of the Snake
  2. The Pale King
  3. Stronghold
  4. Seven Seals
  5. Born in a Rut
  6. Centuries of Suffering
  7. Black Jack
  8. Neptune’s Spear
  9. Canna-Business
  10. The Number Game


Testament is:

Chuck Billy – Vocals

Eric Peterson – Guitars, Backing Vocals

Alex Skolnick – Guitars

Steve DiGiorgio – Bass

Gene Hoglan – Drums


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