Written by Alex Stojanovic
Children Of The Next Level
Night Of The Witch
City Of Angels
Code Of Hammurabi
Curse Of Osiris
Release Date: April 3, 2020
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Chuck Billy - Vocals / Alex Skolnick - Guitars / Eric Peterson - Guitars / Steve DiGiorgio - Bass / Gene Hoglan - Drums
With the amount of touring the band did for Dark Roots Of Earth from 2012 to 2016, Brotherhood Of The Snake was put together and recorded in a rush, and Chuck Billy and Eric Peterson handled the bulk of the writing. Their goal was to make the record faster and more aggressive, and they definitely achieved their goal, but it also caused tension between the two of them during the arrangement and recording process. When it came time to make Titans Of Creation, they did the right thing and took much of 2019 off from touring (with the exception of the summer festivals in Europe) to really focus on the writing. The record was also more a collaborative effort between all five members, leading to the record having a bit more variety like on Dark Roots Of Earth.
The record starts out in true Testament fashion with the amazing one-two thrash punch of "Children Of The Next Level" and "WWIII", both packed with adrenaline-inducing riffs and solos from Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, and fiery vocals from Chuck Billy. The chorus to "Dream Deceiver" seems to give a nod to the Scorpions because Chuck's vocal flow when he sings the title is exactly the same as on "He's A Woman, She's A Man". This is also the point where the next bunch of tracks head into more groove-oriented territory, with some thrashy spots spread out sporadically. There's no ballads on this record, but "City Of Angels" is the most melodic track here. It's just impossible to keep your head still when the two main riffs kick in, as they contain a big Black Sabbath vibe. The clean guitar notes, and the melodic vocals add a nice dynamic.
Vocally, Chuck is using more of his melodic gritty voice than his death voice, but his death voice still makes its presence known in spots. I'm a huge fan of Chuck's death voice, but I think it's great that he uses it wisely. The same can be said about the whole thrash element. Speaking of vocals, one of the newest elements on this record is Peterson making his vocal debut on a Testament record. He doesn't sing a full song, but he sings the chorus on "Night Of The Witch" using his black metal vocals. The guitar work speaks for itself. There's a reason why Peterson and Skolnick are one of the greatest guitar duos of all time. The riffs and the solos all shine brighter than a smile of gold teeth. At the same time, you can't forget about Steve DiGiorgio and Gene Hoglan, who are one of the best rhythm sections in metal. Together, they lay down some monstrous bass lines and pounding grooves that compliment the riffs and vocals extremely well.
Lyrically, the album takes different turns throughout the tracks, touching on topics like modern politics, witches, rulers of the ancient eras, and illness. For example, "The Healers" is a personal one for Chuck, as it talks about his experience with all natural medicine men who helped cure his cancer back in the early 2000s. It almost seems like an homage to "Native Blood". Another highlight is "Symptoms", written by Skolnick, and it touches on the important subject of mental illness and how it's more common than we all think. It's also the most intricate song on the record, musically. After a heavy dose of groove on multiple tracks like "Night Of The Witch", "Ishtars Gate" and "The Healers", the thrash comes back in full force on "False Prophet", "Code Of Hammurabi" and "Curse Of Osiris". The latter is the album's fastest track and it brings back vibes of The Legacy. It's also another track where Eric includes his black metal vocals, like on "Night Of The Witch".
When I was first looking at the song lengths, and I saw that the closing track "Catacombs" was two minutes in length, I was honestly expecting the song to be the fastest song on the record, but it turns out that it's actually the track that Testament have been using as their intro music on the touring cycle for Brotherhood Of The Snake. In a weird way, we've heard a full song from Titans Of Creation before the whole record was even made. If you listen to the riff and drum pattern, it's exactly the same as the intro to "Legions (In Hiding)" off the Low album. I honestly think this track should have been the first song on the record, leading into "Children Of The Next Level". It feels oddly placed at the end of the record.
Those who weren't quite as on board with Brotherhood Of The Snake due to the fact that it didn't contain as much melody as they hoped, will find plenty more to love on Titans Of Creation. The thrash, groove and melodic elements are all balanced really well. With all that said, Titans Of Creation is another fantastic album from one of the kings of Bay Area thrash. The amount of variety to be found here makes this album sit right alongside Dark Roots Of Earth in terms of quality levels. It certainly doesn't top Dark Roots (that album is incredibly tough to surpass), but it's right up there. Testament is still showing us youngsters how it's done, and are showing no sign of slowing down. It seems like 2020's Thrash Album Of The Year award just might be ready to be given out.
Highs: The levels of quality from Dark Roots Of Earth that were absent on Brotherhood Of The Snake are back.
Lows: Hardly any flaws to be found. Those who are hoping for a lot of thrash might only be slightly put off by the amount of more groove-oriented tracks.
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