Talk about a close call! After returning home from their abbreviated European tour with Exodus and Death Angel, Testament’s vocalist Chuck Billy, his wife, Tiffany, and several other members of the touring party – including bandmate Steve DiGiorgio and Gary Holt of Exodus – were not feeling so hot. After being tested at the drive-thru site, it was confirmed that cancer survivor Billy and his betrothed were indeed positive with COVID-19.
After some time, it was also revealed that Death Angel’s drummer Will Carroll emerged from a twelve-day coma and is recovering, however it has still not been confirmed if Carroll has tested positive for the virus or not. Either way, the “Bay Strikes Back” European tour of 2020 almost cost our community some of its most prominent and well-respected members, and the news that everyone previously mentioned seem to be on the mend now is not only relieving, but nearly miraculous.
Amidst this chaos and uncertainty, Testament nevertheless decided to move ahead with the release of their thirteenth full-length studio album, Titans of Creation, which dropped on time and on schedule April 3rd; and although fans may be unable to purchase a copy in stores currently or witness the band supporting the new material live, Testament figured that the mail services are still running and that now is as good of a time as any for people to receive the gift of new tunes to lift their spirits. And lo, it has come to pass that Titans of Creation is available in all formats for mass consumption, plague be damned!
Consequently, this album is nearly prophetic in its content and timing. Being Testament’s thirteenth album, there exists the inherent superstition implied that the album and everything surrounding it will be cursed simply because of numeric happenstance - and admittedly, the appearance of the virus in the Testament camp certainly lends credence to the notion, however ridiculous it may seem to most of us.
Additionally, songs with titles like “Curse of Osiris” (remember the whole black sarcophagus thing?), “Symptoms”, and “The Healers” seem to encapsulate the unprecedented times we are now immersed in, even if not intentionally. Naturally, Billy and Testament couldn’t have foreseen just how fitting some of their timing and song titles would be, but surely there is something to be said about the sheer, weird coincidence of it all, wouldn’t you agree?
All kismet aside, however, Titans of Creation is yet another triumphant release from the Bay area legends. Rowdy, raucous, and crammed with a dozen new anthems of unmistakable, trademarked Testament thrash, Titans of Creation emphatically declares that the Oakland veterans still have everything that it takes to craft a classic album: superior musicianship across the board, a kick-ass vocalist, and an intrinsic knowledge of their own sound that flawlessly translates to the album itself. Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson’s riffs are still just as sharp and solid today as they were on Practice What You Preach or Souls of Black, and Chuck Billy’s vocals sound as if he hasn’t lost one inch of ground to the voice of his youth. In short, Testament are back in full force once again, and they’ve got the album to prove it.
Upon first listen, be sure not to skip the opening single (and cautionary tale about the Heaven’s Gate cult), “Children of the Next Level”, which is wholly reminiscent of Practice What You Preach-era material, as well as the sinister sing-along, “Dream Deceiver”, the pounding pulse of “Night of the Witch”, and the aforementioned gem, “Symptoms”.
This exceptional album is available everywhere now, so show some love to these California thrash pioneers by grabbing yourself a copy of Titans of Creation today, and spread the word far and wide that not only are Testament recovering and getting back to one hundred percent in terms of health, but when it comes to the music, they’re already there and then some!
Press play below to check out the ingeniously animated video for “Children of the Next Level” from Titans of Creation, and don’t forget to visit Testament on the web by clicking the links provided below the video. Enjoy! \m/
Rating: 9.75 / 10
Release Date: April 3rd, 2020 (Nuclear Blast)
Influences and Contemporaries: Exodus, Overkill, Forbidden, Slayer, Death Angel, Kreator, Destruction, Havok