Testament’s output from the ’80s and early ’90 is as influential as any of the thrash bands who make up the “Big Four”. Really, it should be expanded to a “Big Five” to include them.
And they keep getting better with age.
Their latest album, Titans of Creation was supposed to come out as early as 2018 but the band put its recording on hold to support Slayer during their farewell tour. After which, the band’s same line up that recorded 2016’s Brotherhood of the Snake began putting together Titans in 2019.
The group’s core since the mid-’80s…
Eric Peterson – guitars, backing vocals (1983–present)
Chuck Billy – lead vocals (1986–present)
Alex Skolnick – guitars, backing vocals (1983–1992, 2005–present)
…are all here, along with a couple of more recent regulars:
Gene Hoglan – drums (1996–1997, 2011–present)
Steve Di Giorgio – bass (1998–2005, 2014–present)
For a few reasons, Testament ended up taking most of 2019 to get the album together and it wasn’t released until April… of 2020… yeah…
Testament had to put their tour with Europe on hold due to the world going tits up with Covid-19 and lead singer Chuck Billy himself coming down a case of the ‘rona around the same time. (Thankfully he recovered just fine.)
That is some unfortunate timing for Testament because Titans is quite good and I’m sure a tour would have sold a few more copies.
Instead of going song by song, I’m going to highlight a few elements I enjoyed most:
- The album launches with a solid one-two punch of Children of the Next Level and WWIII.
- Dream Deceiver is intense with a catching melody. It makes for the perfect third track and it is the one I would have chosen for a single.
- The mid-tempo grind of City of Angels is as close as this album has to a ballad. I love the thick guitar tone mixed with a talk box that Skolnick uses during his solo. A talk box in thrash.. go figure!
- Gene Hoglan’s “clicky” double bass fills during Symptoms.
- The rockin’ riff for The Healers
- The doubling guitar solo in Code of Hammurabi.
- Steve Di Giorgio is a genuine bass player who is doing his own thing. Plus, he is nice and high in the mix. Just listen to the in the intro for Ishtar’s Gate:
Imagine Metallica giving Jason Newsted this kind of presence?
I’d usually knock off a few points for an album going longer that 45-ish minutes, but I can’t here. Even at almost an hour (58:32), the album feels like it is packed tight with little (if any) filler.
Chuck Billy’s vocals might be a bit of a barrier for some as he has… let’s say adjusted in pitched over the years. His style is not exactly guttural but he does dabble with in it. I think he sounds great, but your mileage may vary.
If you are able to get into it, Titans of Creation is another example of how Testament has come into their own as a band that delivers some hard thrash with a hint of rock ‘n roll swing.