Review Summary: For better and for worse, another serviceable Testament album
With Testament releasing albums at consistent four-year internals since 2008’s The Formation of Damnation (On election years too, no less), it’s only natural for them to stick with a reliable thrash style. Their twelfth full-length doesn’t deviate too far from that formula, riding on the defining core of Eric Peterson’s chunky guitar work and Chuck Billy’s gruff versatility. But at the same time, Titans of Creation manages to put in its share of distinct quirks.
Coming off the direct pummeling on Brotherhood of the Snake, this album feels closer to Dark Roots of Earth with its broader influences at play. Lead guitarist Alex Skolnick and bassist Steve DiGiorgio have heightened presences this time around, most notably contributing the angularly intricate rhythms of “Symptoms” and “Code of Hammurabi” and the Eastern tinges on “Ishtar’s Gate.” “Night of the Witch” and “Curse of Osiris” also see the band experimenting with black metal influences complete with more extreme drumming and Peterson’s supplementary shrieks, instantly triggering Dragonlord associations.
But with these factors in mind, the songwriting doesn’t quite stick the landing. “Dream Deceiver” and “City of Angels” come out strong thanks to their memorable choruses and more melodic touch, but neither quite reaches the height of a true staple. The album’s near hour runtime doesn’t help either; there aren’t any bad tracks on here but a song or two like “The Healers” could’ve been cut without too much trouble.
The inclusion and placement of “Catacombs” as an outro is another minor but very noticeable nitpick. It definitely should’ve been the album’s intro as its swelling symphonics build up to something that isn’t actually there. It also doesn’t help that the guitar chugs are nearly identical to those on “Legions (In Hiding).” When I listened to this album for the first time, I thought that I had somehow switched over to Low by mistake.
For better and for worse, Titans of Creation is another serviceable Testament album. It offers the tropes that fans have come to love with a few extra spices but seems to be holding back in certain regards. The hooks aren’t as effective as the 80s albums and the incorporation of extreme influences isn’t as innovative as it’d been in the 90s. Those who’ve appreciated the other albums of Testament’s comeback era should enjoy this one just as much, but I admit that Dark Roots of Earth is starting to feel like a fluke.
“City of Angels”
“Gates of Ishtar”
“Curse of Osiris”
Originally published at http://psychicshorts.blogspot.com