Testament - Titans of Creation

Testament Titans of Creation cover
Titans of Creation
Nuclear Blast Records
Well, for all intends and purposes some thrash bands like Testament and Overkill, probably by chance, got into a creative streak once they signed with Nuclear Blast (well and them being on a roll and coming up with the goods must have been the reason why they got picked in the first place)… while the Jersey fruitcakes seem to be going down the green gutter of their own greed and slipping into infamy on a musical level, the Cali-thrash titans, who’ve been a little less forthcoming with albums taking four years on average, seem able to keep inspiration levels higher and more consistent. Having consolidated, a steady lineup for a few years now, with Hoglan and DiGiorgio complementing the elder ones (Billy, Peterson and Skolnick), must have played a role too.
The band might have been justly or unjustly compared (mostly unfavorably) to Metallica, but their musicianship has consistently been head over shoulders that of tallica’s and when it comes to the past couple of decades, the output of both is not even contested… Metallica have been decaying, while Testallica has been going on strong… till now that is…
“Children of the Next Level”, (do they mean millennials? I hope not), is a solid opener and single, which seems to culminate all the recent albums stylistically, while at the same time it sort of looks back fondly on the more melodic style the band adopted during the 90s.
“WWIII” fells a bit like mega-llica, through the prism of the californians, steamrolling massive sound… but not managing to surpass its sources of inspiration.
“Dreamer Deceiver” borrows a title for a Priest song and a riff/melody from a Scorpions one, for an interesting thrashed up “tribute” of sorts. It’s a nice enough case of appropriation, but could it also be that it might have been brought in as a bit of a sure-fire “hit”. Skolnick’s solo sort of puts all those doubts on the backburner, as it’s exotic technique takes front stage centre but as soon as the verses return, the question lingers on.
“Night of the Witch” is more in your face, pummeling in an aggressive riff, but if it weren’t for a repetitive short lead, as well as the main solo itself, it’s extra couple of minutes, would have made it a bit of a snoozer.
“City of Angels” is more melodic, without losing the grit, which keeps it from sounding like the 90s era of the band, but it’s creepy, acoustic passages and overall slower pace, make for an interesting change.
“Ishtar’s Gate” begins with a bit of Digiorgio showing off and some rather eastern riffs, along with one that sounds like it’s been lifter from Savatage’s “Warriors”. It’s got its charms, I suppose, but depending on what the potential listener might be looking from the band (ie speed/intensity or interesting musical ideas), it might excite or turn them off, accordingly.
I like how “Symptoms” takes its time to start, but it grooves nicely along a nifty, catchy riff. Despite not being as fast as some of the songs on the early part of the album, it sounds doomier and more “sinister” that way and what’s not to like about that.
“False Prophet” tries to thrash things up, but ends up sounding like a meatier 90s track, with nice soloing, which however doesn’t keep it from being a little boring overall.
“The Healers” has a nice riff, but not much else to go on, I mean no one’d really criticize the performance of a Skol solo, but… well the song overall fails to excite to a great degree.
“Code of Hammurabi” has some strong bass lines and a driving riff. It wouldn’t have felt out of place in “Souls of Black” and thankfully manages to keep the album from slipping further into boredom-territory, as the slower tempos of its latter part don’t always land.
Which is probably something that the band might have realized when they decided to attach the “Curse of Osiris” a pretty extreme, speedinous track next, the third one concerning itself with eastern civilizations, making one wonder if Testament felt jealous of Nile... it does however pick up the slack of the slower tracks quite nicely, only for “Catacombs”, an atmospheric outro, to wrap things up. In all truth, it sounds more like an intro… rather than an outro, which makes one wonder, if the band was preparing some sort of a concept album, but just rushed to finish it.
While “Titans of Creation” manages to easily match the quality standards of the band performance wise… songwriting wise it doesn’t always work and more than once it relies in easy solutions, like using existing melodies etc. Fair, but it’s not exactly a glorious tale of creation, as one might have expected.