Since roaring back into action with 2008’s The Formation Of Damnation, Testament have been on great form. Always a little smarter than the average thrash band, the Bay Area legends have long bridged the divide between old-school attitude and state-of-the-art sonic brutality, but they’ve never sounded more ferocious than they do on Titans Of Creation. With the dream team line-up of classic-era members Chuck Billy, Eric Petersen and Alex Skolnick and a simply peerless rhythm section of bassist Steve DiGiorgio and drummer Gene Hoglan, Testament enter a new decade sounding absurdly confident and powerful.
As epic opener Children Of The Next Level erupts, you may feel compelled to leap to your feet and start applauding, so immaculate and thunderous is the band’s newly re-tweaked sound. Diehard fans will be thrilled, because these songs all boast plenty of the tics and tropes that defined Testament’s early classics, but there is nothing old-fashioned about the ripping, groove-driven thrash of WWII or the melodic malevolence of Dream Deceiver. Instead, these are meticulously crafted modern metal anthems, delivered with levels of muscle and virtuosity that few younger bands can match and fronted by one of metal’s most iconic vocalists.
By the time you get to the vicious and morbid i, it’s a done deal; Testament have never sounded heavier, nor more utterly committed to crushing everything in sight. And the highlights come thick and fast; Ishtars Gate takes bullish catchiness of the band’s Practice What You Preach era and pumps it full of steroids and mescaline; Symptoms is a haughty, mid-paced chug-tsunami, with Chuck Billy in multi-voice versatility mode.
Testament may be veterans, but on Titans Of Creation they sound like a lean, hungry and acutely focused band of brothers, on a laudable mission to pulverise the world. Sign up or get flattened.