MetalBite Review by Szymon on 12/3/2016
After a review of the previous album of Testament
, Dark Roots of Earth
, which rated 8 out of 10, some suggested that I am deaf; some suggested I should get a different job. Perhaps thanks to the Brotherhood of the Snake
I will have an opportunity for rehabilitation?
Although 8 is still a very good rating (in case of Dark Roots of Earth
rating is higher, due to sentimental reasons), apparently in the eyes of diehard admirers it was not good enough. Now I can only hope that fans of thrash, busy with everyday beat and online ferment associated with the new Metallica
album, will not notice that once again we got an eight. As a justification I'll add only, however, that it's an eight plus because Brotherhood of the Snake
seems to be the best album of the band in 21st century, so since the times of brilliant The Gathering
. Moreover, compared to other albums issued this year by several other American veterans (Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica
or Death Angel
finally), most of them well-received, Testament
did, in my subjective opinion, the best job. In their style, which means working and not hanging around in the media and focusing primarily on blowing hot air into the promotional balloon.
Each subsequent Testament
album over the last 24 years, so since the album The Ritual
, was recorded with a different line up, so it is no wonder that this personnel carousel made itself felt on the Brotherhood of the Snake
as well. The band, in an atmosphere of mutual unsympathetic accusations, relegated the original bassist Greg Christian, and his place was taken by old friend Steve DiGiorgio, who was in the ranks of the formation and wreaked destruction on the already mentioned The Gathering
(and not quite full-fledged First Strike Still Deadly
). Steve knows exactly how to work in a tandem with Gene Hoglan and you have to admit that his clanging parts were featured with appropriate force. No matter how much we praise the rhythm section however, it is well known that in Testament
the cards are dealt indisputably by someone else.
On the previous two albums gentlemen Eric Peterson and Chuck Billy gave the impression of being quite weary from bearing the metal cross. They were not revived even with the return of one of the greatest magicians of thrash guitar, Alex Skolnick. Alex charmed in his own way, the riffs sounded like they should have, as if everything was in its place, but the concoction of the most characteristic elements of Testament
's creativity somehow did not want to, unfortunately, take on the appropriate flavor. This time Chuck Billy focused on the lyrics solely and all the material was written by Peterson, only with a modest participation from Skolnick. Most importantly, however, it seems that with the Brotherhood of the Snake
- although Peterson emphasized in interviews everywhere that the creative process was not the easiest – that 'something' that is difficult to even specify, clicked.
Brotherhood of the Snake
is obviously one hundred percent Testament
album and you can hear it at every step of the way, but for the first time in a long time, the formation presents a vitality that does not make the impression of being forced. The melodic inclinations were well balanced with aggression and typical for Americans lively gallops. Precisely, as in through a surgical incision, they removed almost all the tendency to idle humdrum. The solos enhance songs; they're not a forced – even if it is virtuoso – 'must' in the composition only. Only two of the ten pieces go over the five minute mark; the compositions, therefore, are no longer dragging, they're tighter, more solid and most importantly, they're finally starting to differ from each other.
On this last issue, obviously more could have been done and it is not yet the level of variety which would permanently drive out boredom, especially for the less diehard fans of Testament
. However, after the two previous albums - monoliths, filled with twin tracks from which it was impossible to extract even one Top Pick, the band took a step in the right direction. Just to mention the shortest one on record, strong 'Centuries of Suffering'
, led by the main haunting theme 'Neptune's Spear'
or 'Seven Seals'
interspersed with great guitar solo parts.
A passion for a very modern, crystalline production that Eric Peterson and Andy Sneap provide is also a hallmark of the band, which recently resulted in excessive artificiality of the material. This time, it is better in this field also (or maybe I'm just telling this to myself?). Of course, there is no room for the slightest speck of dirt, but the production is - according to the declarations - a bit more organic, the tracks get a little more space. I now returned to the Brotherhood of the Snake
more times than to the two previous discs combined, so it probably speaks volumes about it. Keep it up, gentlemen, and fans will never forget about you.
Rating: 8 out 10