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Testament – “Brotherhood of the Snake”


Testament’s dominated my gym playlists since their triumphant headlining set at this year’s Maryland Deathfest, and in particular their work from the 90’s – Low deserves more attention. Beginning with that record, Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson and company balanced their Bay Area thrash roots with modern extreme sensibilities more evenly than their peers. It makes for good songs, but not an even discography. By my estimation their previous album Dark Roots of the Earth was one of their best records, while I don’t particularly care for its predecessor The Formation of Damnation.

The newly-released title track to their upcoming album Brotherhood of the Snake lands somewhere in between. A flurry of pinch harmonics in the first riff tease at what could be a technical shredfest, until chugging low-string palm mutes dominate the verse, and land closer to Lamb of God than Devildiver – good. Chuck Billy sounds exactly as he has for the past twenty years – also good. And a hint of their 80’s thrash roots peaks through at the pre-chorus around 1:05.

My hangup lies in the lyrics. During our interview, Billy said conspiracy theories would comprise much of his lyrics this time around, and he wasn’t kidding:

“through shape-shift eyes
In Sumerian disguise
By gods who decree our faith.”

Conspiracy theories are metal, and the genre has an uncanny ability to encapsulate paranoia in music. That said, I can’t get behind the reptoid phenomenon at all. Not when Matt Pike does it, not when Chuck Billy does it. Not when Michael Keene does it. Not when anyone does. I can envision a world wherein I am never reminded of Infowars while listening to music, and it is a glorious one. I wish I lived in it.

Those who care for this kind of thing and likewise enjoy Testament, I salute you, and I’ll probably buy this album alongside you regardless. To everyone else: if you see Alex Jones in the pit, please keep him right in the middle of the wall of death.

Brotherhood of the Snake Is out on October 28 via Nuclear Blast. Pre-order it here. Follow Testament on Facebook.

This article has been amended to more accurately reflect the membership of Testament in the 90s. 

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