It’s always refreshing to hear longtime metal bands, or any kind of band really alive and kicking many years down the road. That includes thrash veterans Testament, who despite a coronavirus bout that’s hit both Chuck Billy and Steve DiGiorgio still came through to follow up 2018’s The Gathering with Titans Of Creation. Fitting for the time yet still unapologetically thrashy, the album deals with a plethora of dark subjects tailor-made for a tried-and-true metal act: Legendary loon Marshall Applewhite and his hari-kari Heaven’s Gate cult on “Children Of The Next Level”, the killing spree of Richard Ramirez on “City Of Angels”, and the third and perhaps final war of the world which at times seems more likely than ever to occur on “WWIII”.
Music-wise, Titans sticks to the script and delivers hard on that premise: “Dream Deceiver” is a direct incarnation of Motörhead and Kill ‘Em All Metallica, tracks like “Children Of The Next Level” and “Night Of The Witch” tread closer to later Metallica records thanks to Billy’s Hetfield channellings (though certainly taking a heavier and faster approach). Gene Hoglan, the Atomic Clock himself holds down the rhythm hard, heavy and tight throughout, complimenting DiGiorgio and giving Testament’s axe section an iron-clad backdrop to shine on. Tracks of the likes of “Ishtar’s Gate” and “Curse Of Osiris” are particularly noteworthy for their shredwork, rounding things out sonically and evoking more historical and mythological themes along the way: “Curse Of Osiris” and “Code Of Hammurabi” come to mind.
Between such virtuosic frettery by Peterson and Skolnick, Billy’s fierce eviscerating vocals and Hoglan and DiGiorgio’s rock solid rhythmic foundation, Testament’s 13th rounds out as a solid effort around the board and a great step in the continuing evolution (and preservation) of metal. Hopefully if everyone in that camp stays healthy and recovers in time for metal’s grand return to the road, there’ll be plenty of moshing and banging out in public once more to this new collection of ripping tunes. Another feather in Testament’s cap, and another great album for 2020.