Nuclear Blast Records
Producer – Andy Sneap
Once the Big Four gained an almost official status there began a debate as to who would be number five. While it’s my opinion that the acknowledged Big Four of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax is proper, it is also my opinion that you can’t have a discussion about number five without Testament. And gun to head, they are my number five. While I think the competition for number five is tighter than it is for the top four, I give them an edge at number five.
Brotherhood of the Snake is the third release since the return of noted guitarist Alex Skolnick. Who to be honest I revere as a talent largely because I’ve been told I should. That’s not to say he ain’t good. I’m just not sure I came to that conclusion on my own. With that Brotherhood of the Snake is much better than Dark Roots of the Earth but falls short of The Formation Of Damnation which frankly may have been Testament‘s pinnacle.
The opening title track does a good job of taking us back to 1988. Chuck Billy is the most defining element of the Testament sound and considering the effects time has on us as humans, his voice seems ageless. And the band sounds great. If there’s an identifiable problem with this record it’s that the first seven songs seem like the same song. You have to get to the eighth track, “Black Jack” before your brain wakes up and recognizes you are indeed hearing a new song. That’s not to say the first seven songs aren’t good. They just have a redundancy to them that makes them quickly forgettable.
Testament have always been a great band. See them live if you doubt me. They also seem perfectly placed on the outside looking in on the Big Four. They never really found that identity the bands in the B4 did. Their first record sounds sonically similar to almost everything they’ve ever done. No growth. Only steps back followed by a return to (serenity) the Testament standard. Which ain’t bad. And neither is this record. It’s just not great. I recommend it for fans.