Titans of Creation
The Titans of Thrash return with another banger!
Testament is back with "Titans of Creation", their thirteenth studio album and finds the Bay Area thrashers wheeling and dealing yet again. This record really illustrates the band's ability to be able to blaze new sonic paths for themselves while still retaining a bit of that older sound they had in the "Souls of Black" days.
I love this album from the start to the next to last track. The band starts out with a couple of older sounding tracks, with 'Dream Deceiver' being my favorite of the trio. It has a classic Testament sound to it but still retains that newer edge the band has had on it's previous two releases and Steve DiGiorgio and Gene Hoglan have some really stellar moments on this track in particular.
The next two songs, 'Night of the Witch' and 'City of Angels' are my two favorite tracks on the album by far. 'Night of the Witch' has this really wicked riff that has that trademark angry bee black metal sound incorporated with a bit of groove. The black metal vocals from Eric Peterson combined with Billy's snarling delivery just make this song absolutely killer. 'City of Angels' is not only a solid track but also probably one of, if not my favorite one lyrically on the album. Detailing the exploits of Richard Ramirez, the song is dark, brooding and has this menace that continues to rise as the song progresses. Chuck Billy alters his vocal style a little to more of a sinister rasp that just lends even more atmosphere to this track.
All in all, I can really tell that the band took the time in crafting each song on the album and nothing feels that it doesn't belong on the record with the one exception being the closing track, 'Catacombs'. It's an instrumental track and while it is really cool, it didn't feel necessary to use as a closer or at all honestly. I would have been fine if it had been left off the album. But that's the only thing I really have to grumble about and honestly, it's just a minor quibble. I've always loved the lyrical content of Testament's albums and this one covers a myriad of topics ranging from serial killers to cults to mythology to mental illness. Well-crafted lyrics are just as important to me as the music and Testament has married them both together perfectly on this release.
Musically, I challenge anyone to find a better thrash guitar duo than Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson. They both play with fluidity, speed, precision, and passion that is unmatched in my humble opinion. While Chuck doesn't do as much growling as I would like, he delivers as always on vocals and the more I listened to this one, the more it was nice to hear the snarls coming back in to play. But I'm sure live he'll throw in some growls and roars on some of the tracks from this album. The production is top notch and was handled by Billy, Peterson, and Juan Urteaga with mixing handled by the one and only Andy Sneap.
This album continues to prove the staying power that Testament has as well as showcasing the band's ability to continually evolve their sound with each new album they put out. You will be hard pressed to find a better thrash album this year and your homework is to go and listen to "Titans of Creation". Just make sure no one is around to get smacked by your hair windmills or your particularly aggressive air guitar antics.