In a recent conversation with Nikki Blakk from San Francisco’s 107.7 The Bone radio station, Testament‘s vocalist Chuck Billy shared several insights about the band’s upcoming album, the awaited follow-up to their 2020 release, Titans Of Creation, which is currently in the recording stages.

Billy revealed that the band has been in the studio for several months and aimed to complete the recording process by the end of June. He shared (as transcribed by Blabbermouth) “We’ve been here in the recording studio for — I don’t know — a couple of months now, and we’re getting ready to leave for Europe in July. So we’ve gotta get everything done in June. So it’s our goal to finish everything this month”

When it comes to new material, Testament fans might get a preview by the end of the year. Billy mentioned: “We hope to have a single maybe, just towards the end of the year. Give whomever we select to mix the album one song, ‘Let’s see how you do, see if we’re happy,’ before we do the whole record maybe. It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s still a little more convenient for us this time.”

Discussing the musical direction of the new tracks, Billy described the album as “very aggressive,” noting the influence of their new drummer, Chris Dovas. “The record is very aggressive. With this one, we have a new drummer, Chris Dovas, who’s really putting a fire under Eric Peterson, (Testament guitarist and main songwriter) and really, really got some really heavy, fast — I don’t know if it’s the word ‘modern’, maybe.

“I don’t know, but… ‘Current’, how about that? Current-sounding. So, Chris is adding to that. I never know what the record is gonna be until we mix it, ’cause they’re all just individual songs, and I go, ‘Okay, they’re great.’ But until we mix it and listen to it as an album, that’s when we realize, ‘Wow, this came out better than I thought. Wow, this is really good.’ But this one, I’m excited going in before the mix, because I just know each song is one step up from the last record, as far as aggression, maybe.”

Lyrically, the album explores a range of topical themes, including environmental issues and artificial intelligence. Billy expressed his preference for writing about real-world events, believing it lends more authenticity to his vocal performances.: “It’s not as focused on, like, the aliens, creating mankind and that kind of stuff, but there is some of that. There’s a lot. Each song definitely has its own identity lyrically. And again, we’re writing stuff that is real, that happens with the environment; we’re singing about that again. A.I., we’re singing stuff about that. That’s a big thing. So, there’s always an inspiration for songs. I think it’s a little easier.”

“There’s so much going on in our world to write about now. It’s a crazy world today, so there’s a lot of stuff to talk about. And I like singing about what’s real and what’s going on instead of some fantasy lyrics, because, for me, I think when I sing ’em, I have more conviction, I believe in ’em a little more. And maybe it’s easier for me to remember the lyrics live,” he chuckled.

The band has taken a collaborative approach to songwriting this time around, with guitarist Eric Peterson and drummer Chris Dovas laying the groundwork. The entire group then refined the arrangements together, ensuring everyone’s satisfaction with the final product.

Chris has been coming out since probably December, maybe a little before that, and going to Eric‘s house; he’s got an electric drum set there. So they’ve been working, writing, putting all this stuff together. And at the beginning of May, once Eric started tracking, we decided that, let’s bring Alex Skolnick (Testament lead guitarist) and everybody in’ except for Steve DiGiorgio (Testament bassist), ’cause he’s on tour, let’s bring Alex and everybody here to the studio and let’s just go through all the music, all the songs and make sure we’re all happy with the arrangements. And every song got changed as well. Once Alex got here, we all started putting our heads together till we were all happy with the arrangements. And then he left and we said, ‘Okay, Chris, now here’s the new stuff. Let’s do it and track it.’ And he knocked it out last month, and now it’s the rest of us that are tracking our parts. So we’ve been a little more thoughtful on this record. We have the time to do it. So I think it’s gonna be a killer record.”

“A lot of it is Eric‘s riffs, but they’re put in the proper places or cut out if we don’t need it. And it’s good for me because I didn’t really get to sit with Eric. I just let them guys jam and just come up with as much as you can and we’ll sort it out later, which that’s what they did. But once Chris came out, then we knew, okay, it has to change or we’re gonna just have the same record, and maybe we wouldn’t be happy when it was all done. And also Eric‘s actually been going to New York — he actually went to work with Alex out there, which he hasn’t done in the past.”

“And I think having Chris be available because like Gene (Hoglan, former Testament drummer) or whoever we worked with didn’t have the time to come up as much as Chris has. Chris has spent a lot of time here, which has been good and really pushing Eric to make music. And we’re at a point now to where Eric‘s, like, ‘You know what? This has been fun. I think I’m just going to keep bringing Chris out. Let’s just keep writing songs. Even after this record’s done, let’s just keep making songs,’ which I think is great because that means we can get a jump on the next record. ‘Cause not spring chickens. It’s, like, let’s get it done now while we can,” Billy added.

Billy also revealed some tantalizing track titles, including “Havana Syndrome,” “Infanticide A.I.,” and a slower, more melodic piece called “Meant To Be.” Despite the overall aggressive tone, Billy assures fans that the album will still feature Testament‘s signature blend of brutality and melody.

“There’s a song, ‘Havana Syndrome’, which is about the Havana Syndrome. People, look that up. There’s ‘Infanticide A.I.’, which is another song going A.I. direction. And there’s actually a slower song. We haven’t done a slower song. I’m not gonna say ‘ballad’, but I’m gonna say a slower song that has a lot of groove and soul, called ‘Meant To Be’. And it’s like a classic Testament-type ballad, I guess, if you wanna use that word,” he elaborated.

“But we’ve got a little bit of everything, but, again, I think it’s really sticking to Testament, having to have some melodic stuff, even though there’s some really brutal lyrics and real brutal, more of a death voice. I still put the hook in with more of a melodic hook or something. It’s still classic Testament. If you listen to it, you’ll go, ‘That’s Testament, but a little more octane to it.'”

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