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A Review of Testament's "Brotherhood of the Snake" and the Return of Drummer Gene Hoglan

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Brotherhood of the Snake front album cover

The album's cover shows a group of men as they try to keep the snakes away from them because the snakes have their mouths open. The snakes are similar to the organization called COBRA in the GI Joe cartoons.

The album's cover shows a group of men as they try to keep the snakes away from them because the snakes have their mouths open. The snakes are similar to the organization called COBRA in the GI Joe cartoons.

The Importance of Vocalist Chuck Billy is Vital to This Album

Bay area thrash metal band Testament is back in 2016 with what was then a brand new album called Brotherhood of the Snake. The album also marks the return of bassist Steve Digiorgio (ex-Sadus, Death) and Gene Hoglan who also worked with Tampa Florida based death metal band called Death. 33 years into their existence, it is an amazing miracle that Chuck Billy’s voice has even held up so well. You would think that with all of the harsh shouting, grunts, and heavy vocal style that it would eventually wear him out. But Chuck’s voice has survived and he is able to deliver the goods and show that he is a more than competent vocalist in the music business. Testament has outperformed and outlived such famous bands as Sacred Reich. They show that even they are better than Slayer. Testament takes positions with Metallica as the two best metal bands to come out of the San Francisco area if we don’t count Exodus.

Gene Hoglan of Testament and formerly of the band called Death

The Pale King Sets the Tone for the Album

Brotherhood of the Snake is album that I had to get into slowly because I had not wanted to listen to American bands for a while due to reasons that I won’t get into in this review. The album’s lyrical themes tend to focus on various aspects of society such as war and religion. One of the first strong songs that I really got into is The Pale King. The song is about a king that has lived so long that he has seen so many things that have happened. He is old and sick but he will fight to the end to make sure that this world remains his own. In this way, he is acting not as a king but as a dictator.

The Songs Born in a Rut and Centuries of Suffering show the creativity of the band Testament and why they should be congratulated

Other songs that are good but that may be overlooked is the song called "Born in a Rut." This is a song about someone who was born and comes into this world being raised to love the abuse of others. He continues to lie, steal, cheat, and deceive. He knows that these actions are not just, that they are not right but he does not care. He knows that he will not live forever but he feels that he does not need an excuse to act the way that he does. Centuries of Suffering is a song that accurately describes what has happened during times of conflict and war as society has evolved so much that people went from using sticks and stones to now using more precise weapons. With this sophistication of the use of these weapons, it has led to centuries of suffering for the human race. I really applaud Testament for the fact that they write songs that have such informative and eye opening lyrics.

The song called "Canna Business"

Further Proof of the band Testament's eye opening and special songs

They have been doing this for such a long time. They have been doing this since at least the early 1990's. Think back to 1992 when they wrote songs such as The Sermon or in 1994 when they wrote the song called P.C. That song was a huge eye opener especially at the time it was written because the song was trying to expose how corrupt the US government, that machine that has been corrupted. There are times when there is a massive abuse of power and our elected officials don’t look after us but they do what the big corporations tell them to do and they follow where the money is. Testament makes reference to this in the song called Canna-Business. The pharmaceutical companies really make a huge profit as marijuana is being legalized and the sick get healed but at a very high price. The US spends so much money on health care yet so many people still do not have proper health insurance as the costs of premiums get so high. The last song The Number Game is about someone that kills others and he does not care how many people suffer.

"Born in Rut"

Final Thoughts About Brotherhood of the Snake

Testament is back in a big way and the end result is very good. Is this new album as good as other classic albums as The Ritual and Low? Probably not but it is still a VERY good album even for 2016 standards. Why do I say this? Testament has not sold out and gone after what is trendy or popular. They have stuck to their roots and have been able to maintain their heaviness while creating great songs that have very important messages for us to remember. 33 years and counting, Testament is still alive and well!

"Centuries of Suffering"

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


Ara Vahanian (author) from LOS ANGELES on March 17, 2017:

Julie Loi: thanks for your comment and yes, Brotherhood of the Snake is very much a cool album indeed.

julie loi on March 16, 2017:

still pretty cool


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