‘Brotherhood of the Snake’
(Nuclear Blast)

The “Thrash Revival” has been in full effect since 2015 – it seems like every major player from the Bay Area Thrash scene is back in the studio pumping out the jams. Testament stands out among these giants – delivering, hands down, the best Thrash release of 2016. In fact, I think ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’ deserves a nomination for the best metal album of 2016, period. Considering how good ‘Dark Roots of the Earth’ was, I had high hopes for Testament’s new album. Brotherhood of the Snake not only met my expectations – it exceeded them (and then some)!

While it’s not a concept album, Chuck Billy’s lyrics regarding Sumerian legends perfectly compliment the soundscapes created by the rest of the band. Not to mention, his vocal delivery is spot on. And the guitar work is worthy of a separate review. I don’t know how the hell Skolnick does it – I was concerned that his work with Metal Allegiance he might have exhausted himself creatively. Apparently I worried for nothing. Skolnick and Peterson’s performance on this album is face melting and relentless – complimented perfectly by DiGorgio and Hoglan on the low end.

Testament took their time writing this album, and it shows. They managed to incorporate melodic elements without sacrificing an ounce of face-melting fury. The production quality on Brotherhood … is phenomenal. The tracks are crystal clear, without sacrificing an ounce of sheer sonic aggression. The album flows nicely from start to finish, and is a logical progression from their last album – without sounding like ‘Dark Roots part II’. It starts and ends with a bang, and the tasteful application of melody pays proper homage to Thrash’s NWOBHM roots. The song “Canna Business” shines a light on the socio-political climate regarding the growing medicinal cannabis industry in America. And the cover art fucking rules. In fact, I only have one issue with Brotherhood … – I liked the second track (“The Pale King“) so much I listened to it on repeat for an entire day.

In hindsight, giving me this album to review might have been a mistake. And not a minor one – this is on par with bringing your (severely) alcoholic friend to a wine tour so they can give a sophisticated review of the event.

That’s probably the best analogy to describe what happened to me with Brotherhood of the Snake. I received my copy of the album a week ago, and I’ve been on a Testament bender ever since. I can’t stop listening to it.


– Corey Mcelligott

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