Monday 6 April 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Testament, "Titans of Creation"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/04/2020
Label: Nuclear Blast

“Titans of Creation” CD//DD//LP track listing:

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

The Review:

Testament are back, four years after “Brotherhood of the Snake”. What kind of album do they have for us this time, well, it's a thrash record. The days of thrash/death/black/power/trad bands having to change up their sound to appease current trends is thankfully long gone. If Testament went through a rather fallow patch in the early to late 90s, there is no sense of such a thing here. In fact, the last three Testament albums (“Formation of Damnation” onwards) have all been uniformly good to great. For me, “Brotherhood of the Snake” is the pick of the last few albums, so let's delve into what is on offer from the bay area giants here...

“Children of the Next Level” kicks things off with all expected facets present and correct; it's technically flawless, well executed, almost epic in length and the band sounds great- if you look at the line up, it's no wonder. The production is also top notch; crystal clear and not too compressed. It's an aural pleasure for sure.

“WW III” follows up and is an absolute banger- speedy and hooky. From there the album proceeds through “Dream Deceiver” (riffy/groovy) and the excellent “Night of the Witch”- bringing a real old school thrash feel. It's one of the best tracks on the album and really encapsulates what Testament do best.

“City of Angels” is more than serviceable with its slower pace and menacing lyrics, while “Ishtars Gate” is also decent but doesn't quite catch fire. “Symptoms” benefits from Steve DiGiorgio's bass taking a more prominent spot but is a little sluggish for my taste. The mid album dip is exactly that, though. After the lull, there is the excellent “False Prophet” with its thrash styling and then the great “The Healers” which has a storming main riff and excellent changes throughout. Of course, Gene Hoglan is superb on every track, Alex Skolnick supplies virtuosic solos and Eric Peterson lays down some excellent riffage.

At twelve tracks (one is a short album closing instrumental), the album is two tracks too long- that's a rather mean spirited criticism as you get more for your money- it could have been edited down to ten mostly-killers. “Code of Hammurabi” is again decent thrash, but “Code of Osiris” is much better, proceeding at a speedy clip with Chuck Billy and Hoglan really coming to the fore. Billy remains the most versatile thrash vocalist and therefore arguably the best in the genre- it's a discussion for another day, but there are few that can match his vocals in any form of the metal styles he chooses to deliver in. By the time “Catacombs” closed the record with two minutes of vocal-less atmosphere, I was a happy Testament fan.

In summary this is a good to great thrash record. It's up there with “Dark Roots of Earth” and “Formation of Damnation” and for me just a point behind “Brotherhood of the Snake”. The great tracks are really, really great. The mid album dip is at the very least still decent. Many bands would be proud of having a whole record of tracks like “Code of Hammurabi”, but Testament are a band capable of “Curse of Osiris” or “WW III”! Testament remain one of the greatest thrash bands of all time and they have put out another very credible entry into their discography here.

“Titans of Creation” is available HERE

Band info: Facebook