Brotherhood Of The Snake
Released: 206, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos
BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE was among the most awaited thrash metal albums of the year! For sure ! The 90’s was a decade marked by a series of changes in the formation of the band, followed by a change of pace in its musical style.
When the band released THE GATHERING (1999), everything got changed. The line-up was stable again more or less. The music pace looked back to heavy/thrash roots. And they kept it till now. BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE is the best follow up to a great series of very good thrash/metal albums ( THE GATHERING, THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION, DARK ROOTS OF THE EARTH).
As for the album title, Chuck Billy states: «"Brotherhood of the Snake" is inspired (as told by Sumerian scriptures dating more than 6,000 years ago), by a reputed secret society of the same name founded by a Draconian alien attributed to Ea, sometimes known as Enki. According to said writings, man was created by Ea as the hybrid race we know as homo sapiens, to serve as slaves to mine Earth's minerals and gold. The Brotherhood of the Snake, or simply "The Brotherhood," was formed to enlighten mankind in secret, to debunk most manners of religion, and in the last 2000 years, particularly Christianity. "The Brotherhood" has evolved over the years to form offshoot orders such as the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians, the Knight Templars and the Knights of Malta». This 11th thrash instalment by Testament is itself in turn the result of ‘gathering’ of top metal musicians: Beyond the trio Chuck Billy (CEO) - Eric Peterson (Chairman) - Alex Skolnick (what we call "guitarist with personality"), here we’ve got the honor to listen to Gene Hoglan on drums (this hellish grinding machine) and "eternal hippy of all that is fretless ", as Chuck Schuldiner called him once, Mr Steve DiGiorgio on bass (impressive as always and everywhere !).
Therefore, as it was expected (and as the chemistry between the members confirmed on stage), BROTHERHOOD couldn’t be a bad album. The guitar work immediately distract and true "masterpiece". The Testament is not based (only) on massive productions to fill their sound. Contrariwise, the band offers generously aggressive riffs, melodic solos, harmonies and everything else pulls your appetite (listen anyway the "Neptune's Spear" saga, a real guitar seminar, where Skolnick shines as a great guitar hero, as he is). Let’s take a look at the basis of all songs; the rhythm section. Hoglan / DiGiorgio duo build a solid rhythmic wall, but fortunately put their own mark and signature on the songs. Finally, Chuck Billy sings and screams like a bloody young passionate musician, selects traditional thrash metal forms, with some few death metal moments (e.g. "Centuries Of Suffering", and scattered growls to the other pieces, for emphasis). Listen to "Born in a Rut" and it will brings to your mind "Souls of Black" (I love “Souls of Black”). “The Number Game”, the song that closes the album, is of the greatest you can find here. If you are searching for power, strength and nerve, then you have to listen to “Centuries of Suffering”. If you want a true heavy song with all the great Testament elements within, then you gonna choose “The Pale King” to listen to.
The way this band constantly evolves and expands on their songwriting is sheer brilliance at times. BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE is a great thrash/heavy album. I place it among the top-20 heavy metal albums of the year!