During a press conference at this weekend's Hellfest in Clisson, France, TESTAMENT singer Chuck Billy and guitarist Eric Peterson spoke about the progress of the recording sessions for the band's follow-up to 2016's "Brotherhood Of The Snake" album.
"The day before we got on the plane [to start our European tour], we just finished recording all the tracks," Chuck said (see video below). "And [producer] Andy Sneap, who's out with JUDAS PRIEST [as the band's touring guitarist], will mix it. So when he gets home, a couple of weeks in July, he'll start the mix. So, it's gonna be a good one."
Added Eric: "Well, we don't have a name yet, but it's gonna come out in late January 2020."
Asked about the direction of the new TESTAMENT material, Eric said: "Musically, it's a lot more thrash, I think, and more old school. I don't wanna say MERCYFUL FATE, but that kind of guitar harmonies and stuff like that. And lyrically, it's probably a little bit more storytelling, kind of evil shit, I guess. The label told us to write something evil, so…"
Added Chuck: "It's definitely faster than the last record. But I think the way we've been writing the last couple of records, we work a long time on the riffs, but when we get in the studio is when we really start putting the pressure on ourselves, and I think we've been working better under pressure. It's not my favorite time of year when it's time to write lyrics and get prepared to do the record, so it gets tough. But it really drives us to really reach down and do something. 'Cause when you get to a point when you wrote 120 songs, it's a little tough to get inspired by 'What else can I write?' 'What else can we do?' 'How do we keep it fresh?'"
He continued: "I give Eric credit, because he doesn't follow anybody else — he has his own taste in music, and he brings what he does to TESTAMENT. And it always keeps us on our toes, and me especially, because when I hear the riff, I expect, 'Maybe it's gonna be the old-school thrash — maybe.' But then when I get it, okay, I hear the thrash, but then there's some new elements and maybe some new chords that he chooses to play that maybe aren't comfortable for me. And when I first hear them, I go, 'Wow. That's different. Maybe I'm not so comfortable.' But it pushes me to experiment and challenge myself to try something different. And I think that's what keeps the TESTAMENT records always sounding different — we don't copy ourselves. So I'm very proud of what we did, because again we had our backs against the wall and a little pressure on us, and the songs came out great. And I think everybody's gonna enjoy the record again. We have some really good stuff on it — some good thrash, some good melodic stuff, some good melodies on the vocals. So there's a little bit of everything."
Eric said: "It's not so much death metal kind of stuff. Chuck didn't wanna sing melodic, but a lot of the songs are really melodic — like 'Electric Crown', 'Trial By Fire' kind of riffing, kind of old school. It's a little bit like that."
Chuck stated: "I always tell Eric when he's writing songs, 'Is it heavy? Is it fast? Is it heavy?' And then I always question myself: 'Maybe I should sing the death metal voice more on this record.' Then I get the songs and I'm, like, 'Well, it doesn't really work on this.' So I go back just to what comes natural, I think."
Asked about the TESTAMENT recording process and whether the band still records music "live" in the studio, Chuck said: "We tried it live once, and it worked at that point in our lives and career. But I think at this point, especially with technology getting where you can do it at home, Eric records a lot of his tracks on his own at home now. We all don't live together, so it's a little difficult to get everybody just to be at the same place. So we choose to do it individual tracks, whenever we have our own time. So we're never really in the studio together, on the past recordings. But I think it's better this way. We know that the tracks, once you record 'em, they're good, they're set in stone. You don't have to go back and worry about it if somebody else messed up. So there's advantages to it."
TESTAMENT's new album was once again recorded with Juan Urteaga, who previously worked on "Brotherhood Of The Snake" as well as albums from MACHINE HEAD and EXODUS.