Testament - Brotherhood of the Snake

Testament Brotherhood of the Snake cover
Brotherhood of the Snake
Nuclear Blast Records
I must say that when I read somewhere that Testament had a bit of trouble coming up with their newest material, I felt a bit alarmed. The arrival of “Brootherhood of the Snake”, despite boasting one of the best lineups the band ever had, with musicians like Steve DiGiorgio for the first time co-existing with the beast that Gene Hoglan is, in T’s rhythm section… left me overall a bit unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong, Testament are probably the band Metallica would like to be, if they were really good players, but then again that doesn’t mean jack. After a couple of really tight releases following an almost decade long hiatus from the studio, “Brotherhood” sounds a little disappointing.
The title track manages to hit hard and be in your face almost the entire time, with only the solo section letting being the start of a loosening up that leads the track to a halt at some point, before the “Pale King” shows up, stomping all around in a very metalli-way that also harkens back to the band’s best early 90s style. From then on and up to the middle of the album there’s a bunch of tracks following a similar formula, with “Stronghold” being one of the grooviest ones, but lacking in substance, despite it’s nice riffs and interesting solo.
“Seven Seals” is a bit slower, but that allows it an extra amount of heaviness as well as a bit more space to negotiate its melodies.
“Born in a Rut” boasts similar speeds and an even more intricate solo, but just isn’t as good.
“Centuries of Sin” steps on the gas, with CB going for a more extreme vocal approach too that’s more reminiscent of the later and more extreme days of the band, but seems to work just fine.
“Blackjack” is fast and rock n rollish, in an almost early Metallica way, but not so good as that might lead you believe.
“Neptune’s Spear” is one of the more interesting songs, but one of the least good, as it feels a little out of climate on the album. It’s got a bunch of very nice melodies and a nice enough riff, but somehow it doesn’t feel exactly to gel with the rest of the album, wholly.
“Canna-Business” (oh what a smart pun…) is rather by the numbers thrash that borders on the threshold of becomin death, but doesn’t really go there. Fantastic solo though, mr AS.
Lastly, “The Numbers Game”, a song Billy wrote with Zetro Souza of Exodus, ain’t half bad, but neither all good, as it tries too hard to be memorable and doesn’t quite accomplish that.
Imho, a small step back down that doesn’t compromise Testament’s place in the metal pantheon, but doesn’t add almost anything new to their already cemented “legacy”… pun intended.