Tue. Dec 1st, 2020

REVIEW: Testament – Titans of Creation

TESTAMENT is one of those few bands that have never released a really bad album. Perhaps in the mid-90s their music changed into a less satisfying style (at least for me) with “Demonic,” but other than that, since their triumphant comeback with “The Gathering,” they have released one great album after another, being one of the few classic thrash metal bands to deliver top quality records to this day. “Titans of Creation” is their thirteenth studio album and the second with the current lineup following 2017’s highly acclaimed “Brotherhood of the Snake.” The context in which this new album is released is quite interesting given the current chaos we’re living in, a world almost completely paralyzed by COVID-19, which has affected even members of the band and their crew on a personal level.

The album opens with the galloping “Children of the Next Level,” a furious track that destroys everything in its path and showcases the best elements of TESTAMENT: an unstoppable rhythmic section, guitar riffs full of groove and melody, technical while including the necessary level of aggressiveness and heaviness we love, and the unique voice of Chuck Billy, one of the few vocalists who keeps getting better in terms of vocal performance over the years. The apocalyptic “WW III” is a straight-forward thrash metal nuclear bomb, fast and brutal but no less catchy, all for the same price. It’s a song with the potential to unleash moshpits of biblical proportions and hopefully, it will be included in their future setlists. The vocal melody is one of the most memorable on the record, including cleaner passages but also those trademarks growls by Mr. Billy.

With “Dream Deceiver,” they go back to their classic heavy metal roots, featuring a more melodic approach and a cleaner sound, complemented by a contagious chorus that you’ll be singing for days. The work by the guitar duo consisting of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick is truly dazzling… well, not every band has as impressive a riff master and an outstanding soloist as these two giants. Next, we have the first single, “Night of the Witch,” which has been out for a few weeks already. It’s quite a heavy and progressive song, full of dynamics and contrasts, with such an infectious beat and a great performance by the legendary Gene Hoglan. Another instant classic to add to the top shelf of the best songs in their wide discography.

“City of Angels” starts with a cool bass intro, courtesy of the maestro Steve DiGiorgio, who delivers such a unique playing style, full of personality and class. It’s a slower song that takes us back to the sound of their 90s albums such as “Low.” Reaching almost seven minutes, it’s the longest song on the album and becomes somewhat tedious towards the end. “Ishtars Gate” is a mid-tempo track that features once more a predominant bass sound, almost overshadowing the guitars. Even though Steve does not directly contribute to the songwriting, his contribution to the current sound of the band is undeniable. This can be confirmed by anyone who has seen them performing their classics live lately; no offense meant to their classic bassist, Greg Christian.

And since we are flattering Mr. DiGiorgio, let’s continue on the same path with “Symptoms,” where the maestro shines once more with his exquisite technique. Gene Hoglan also does amazing stuff behind the drumkit, adding some complex metrics and powerful fills into the mix. “False Prophet” brings back the old-school thrash frantic speed, with a more modern and polished sound, also incorporating groove metal elements that add some special flavor and contrast with the fast sections. Then we have “The Healers,” another clear example of the band’s vitality and relevance, combining brutality with melody to perfection, including a highly inspiring Alex Skolnick, who justifies why he is considered one of the most virtuous guitar players in the thrash scene.

In “Code of Hammurabi,” they use DeGiorgio‘s immense talent in the intro once more, but this time they take off immediately at full speed with an explosion of batshit crazy riffing and unstoppable drumming by “The Atomic Clock” Hoglan. Definitely one of those songs that will make your neck very sore. As if this wasn’t enough, they deliver one more killer track with “Curse of Osiris,” perhaps the most aggressive song on the album, including interesting backing growls courtesy of Eric Peterson himself, similar to what he has shown with his symphonic black metal project DRAGONLORD. To conclude, we have the small instrumental piece “Catacombs,” featuring marching rhythms, wrapping things up after one hour of exquisite brutality.

With “Titans of Creation,” we are facing yet another great success in TESTAMENT’s extensive discography. The addition of legends like Gene Hoglan and Steve DiGiorgio to the classic Peterson/Billy/Skolnick triumvirate makes them an unstoppable metal machine both in-studio and live, a real world-class act worth witnessing over and over again. The ability of this band to generate such high-quality material after thirty-five years of career is incredible, and this is why they are one of the main candidates to make their way into the Big Four of Thrash Metal after SLAYER’s retirement. I’m sure the current incarnation of TESTAMENT still has a lot of surprises to offer us in the near future since they seem to be enjoying this endless period of creativity and inspiration at a level that sets them very far apart from other thrash legends who fail to recreate their magic in later years. Long live The Titans of Creation!

Written by David Araneda

Tracklist

  1. Children Of The Next Level
  2. WWIII
  3. Dream Deceiver
  4. Night Of The Witch
  5. City Of Angels
  6. Ishtar’s Gate
  7. Symptoms
  8. False Prophet
  9. The Healers
  10. Code Of Hammurabi
  11. Curse Of Osiris
  12. Catacombs

Lineup

Chuck Billy – Vocals
Eric Peterson – Guitar
Alex Skolnick – Guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – Bass
Gene Hoglan – Drums

Label

Nuclear Blast

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