[Album Review] Testament Summons 'Titans of Creation' for Expansive, Crushing Thirteenth Album

Testament Titans of Creation Review

Since their 2008 album The Formation of Damnation, Testament have enjoyed something of a second wind in the resilient thrash metal scene. As one of the “second Big Four,” they have enjoyed decades of thrash excellence, all while not being afraid to take on new inspirations and information. On Titans of Creation, which the band themselves mentioned was to feature more of a Mercyful Fate feeling, flavors of black, death, and epic traditional metal inform the overall product. It all comes together to deliver another strong album from the Berkeley faithful.

The album starts in the best way possible with “Children of the Next Level,” chock-full of triplets and a galloping rhythm. Never did I think a song based around the real-life Heaven’s Gate death cult could rock so hard, but Testament found a way. Its successor “WWIII” shows the best of the Atomic Clock himself, drummer extraordinaire Gene Hoglan. There’s so much double-kick goodness, and the guitar genius of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick is damn near unparalleled. “Dream Deceiver” gives us a bit of that Mercyful Fate bite the band hyped up, with plenty of melodic passages and an overall classic traditional metal feel.

“Night of the Witch” toys around with elements of black metal, with the shrieked chorus being a highlight. On the first listen of this song, before the album proper was released, I was stunned by this one, in the best ways. The first notes of “City of Angels” have some fun bass parts with more dual guitar harmonies. The lower range of vocals with the arpeggios in the chorus make for a hypnotic and fun chorus. More dual guitar work kicks off “Ishtar’s Gate,” with plenty of melody to play off of the riffing.

More top-notch guitar work ushers in “Symptoms,” with low growls serving as a welcome change of vocal pace from the gravelly-voiced Chuck Billy. Whereas several other songs on this album will be pit-openers, this one could see loads of banging heads and thrown horns. The straight-up, no frills thrash returns on “False Prophet” with classic riffing. “The Healers” has a mildly misleading title, as some of the themes and composition feel more like death metal. It’s at this point that it feels refreshing that such an established act like Testament can flirt with other influences and motifs without giving up too much of their core sound.

“Code of Hammurabi” goes back to the old gods with some great double kick work and an infectious chorus. Keeping with the Egyptian themes, “Curse of Osiris” invokes more black metal motifs, all while maintaining a stupidly fast pacing. It’s intense, and the blast beats in the more blackened sections are as punishing as anything else on this record. Closing out the album is the instrumental “Catacombs,” with the presence of keyboards and an ominous choir making one wonder if they’re still listening to Testament, as that’s not usually something the band does, at least not lately.

The odd choice of record closer aside, Titans of Creation is a great addition to the band’s extensive catalog. Testament have earned the foothold they have in the thrash metal world, and here they prove that they may be the best thrash group not in the lauded Big Four.

Titans of Creation is available now via Nuclear Blast Records.