ALBUM REVIEW: Testament – ‘Titans of Creation’
There is no doubt the San Francisco Bay area was a hot-bed for the origins of thrash-metal back in the mid-eighties with the likes of Metallica, Vio-Lence, Exodus, Death Angel and Heathen as well as Testament who are often credited as one of the most popular and influential bands of that thrash metal scene. Now 37 years into their career, Testament has been one of the leaders in the thrash metal revival starting back in the mid 2000’s as they have put out some of their best work starting with 2008’s The Formation of Damnation then 2012’s Dark Roots of Earth followed by 2016’s Brotherhood of the Snake and now their 13th studio album Titans of Creation keeps flying the thrash-metal flag.
Anchored by the bands most talented lineup to date with the hulking Chuck Billy on vocals, the dynamic guitar duo of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick and the rhythm section held down by half of the lineup that created the classic Death albums Symbolic and Individual Thought Patterns – The Atomic Clock, drummer Gene Hoglan and Steve Di Giorgio on bass. These five musicians have created another Testament masterpiece that captures all elements of the bands past efforts as well as showcasing each member’s talents within the confines of each song.
Testament brought back artist Eliran Kantor who created 2008’s Formation of Damnation as well as 2012’s Dark Roots of Earth covers. Kantor is a master at creating a visual that brings to life all the elements of a record and he nails this one spot on featuring three colossal titans.
The album has a dark and thrashy ambiance that begins with the fast paced “Children of the Next Level” where you immediately know this is Testament by the galloping drums and rhythm guitar picking. “WW III” doesn’t let up and continues the fast double bass tempo with lyrical content about the end of humanity with the lyrics “Nuclear warhead, dropping on the masses, Leaving them all dead before they reach the underground”. Next the more melodic “Dream Deceiver” sort of reminds you of “Electric Crown” from 1992’s The Ritual in the sense that it is a bit more of a straight up hard rock song but yet still embodies that signature Testament sound.
Next up is one of the highlights on the album – a signature up-tempo pure thrash masterpiece “Night of the Witch”. The song features vocal contributions from Eric Peterson bringing a bit of a Black Metal-esque sentiment to the chorus complementing Billy’s growls (Peterson is no stranger to singing as he handles all vocals for his Black-Metal side project Dragonlord). What’s better than Testament singing about witches, spells and the darkside . . . definitely a standout on the album. The song that follows is also a highlight of this latest collection – “City of Angels” is a mid-tempo Black Sabbath-esque song that hauntingly chugs with a killer riff and an unexpected somewhat experimental guitar solo that demonstrates both Peterson’s and Skolnick’s spellbinding guitar work.
“Ishtars Gate” and “Code of Hammurabi” allow Steve Di Giorgio to shine with his thumping bass and the album ends with the two minute instrumental “Catacombs” featuring Peterson and Skolnick doing their magic.
Chuck Billy’s guttural growls and melodic “clean vocals coupled with Alex Skolnick’s piercing guitar solos and Eric Peterson’s precision rhythms anchored by Gene Hoglan’s powerful double bass pounding and Steve Di Giorgio’s thunderous bass lines truly shine on this album. Each member is at the top of their game at this point in time sonically and the song writing stands out a you listen from song to song.
While the second half of the album doesn’t quite kick you in the face like the first five songs, it is far from filler as Testament once again has created a record that any thrash fan will have no problem listening to from start to finish. The band has successfully combined their heavy thrash roots with a tad of modern progressiveness resulting in a true Testament record without recreating what they have already done. Even though Titans of Creation was just released on April 3, it’s hard not to already wonder what the band will do next.
- Chuck Billy | vocals
- Eric Peterson | guitars
- Alex Skolnick | guitars
- Steve DiGiorgio | bass
- Gene Hoglan | drums
Titans of Creation Track List:
- Children of the Next Level
- WW III
- Dream Deciever
- Night of the Witch
- City of Angels
- Ishtars Gate
- False Prophet
- The Healers
- Code of Hammurabi
- Curse of Osiris