Testament was one of the first thrash metal bands to emerge from the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980’s. Undoubtedly, they are the inventors of the thrash-metal wheel. Testament’s powerful sound, influence, and longevity make them one of the Top 5 All-Time Legendary Thrash Metal Bands, putting them in the company of Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, and Anthrax.
Testament is right now on the verge of signing a worldwide record contract to release an all-new album, which the band hopes to have in stores by March 2008!!! For this brand new record, the band has brought their original lineup back together – vocalist Chuck Billy, guitarists Eric Peterson & Alex Skolnick, and bassist Greg Christian – and have added Nick Barker (ex- Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir) on drums.
“It’s been a long time, but I’m glad we waited because we have pretty much the full lineup back, plus one of my favorite drummers in Nick” says Peterson.
“It feels like the band’s having a rebirth. I think we’re sounding better than we ever have. People that see the shows are quickly realizing this isn’t a nostalgia act, and that this group holds its own with anyone out there,” asserts Skolnick.
Nick Barker, though new to the band, is no stranger to the original members. “We met back in ’97,” says Barker. “We were on the same label at the time. We became drinking buddies and started hanging out. Being a fan of the band, I always used to go see them. At one show, they asked me to come up and play “Over The Wall.” After that, they asked me to join.”
Originally formed as ‘Legacy’ in 1983 by founding members Peterson (rhythm guitar), Derrick Ramirez (guitar) and Louie Clemente (drums), the line-up included vocalist Steve Souza and Christian (bass). Ramirez was later replaced by guitar prodigy Alex Skolnick (lead guitar). However, Souza left to join Exodus and suggested that the towering Chuck Billy take over as frontman. While recording their first record, the band adopted the ‘Testament’ moniker.
The band’s 1987 debut album, “The Legacy,” thrust Testament to the front of the flourishing thrash metal scene. Following “Live At Eindhoven”, an EP recorded at Holland’s Dynamo Festival, “The New Order” in 1988 was well received, producing one of the band’s most memorable classics “Disciples Of The Watch”. Next came the highly successful “Practice What You Preach” in 1989, then the release of “Souls Of Black” in 1990.
After “The Ritual” in 1992, Testament saw many lineup changes. Clemente left, as well as Skolnick who left to pursue jazz music projects. The band persevered and continued to write and record new music. “Low” was released in 1994 with John Tempesta (ex- Exodus) on drums, and “Demonic” followed in 1997, this time with Gene Hoglan (ex- Death, Dark Angel, Unearth) replacing Tempesta. The album was recorded at Testament’s Driftwood Studios. “Signs of Chaos,” a collection of Testament’s best tracks, was released in 1997.
For their next major release, Dave Lombardo (ex- Slayer, Grip, Inc.) was officially introduced into the band. James Murphy, who played guitar on “Low,” was brought back once again, along with the legendary Steve DiGiorgio (ex- Death, Control Denied, Sadus) on bass. “The Gathering” was born in 1999. Soon after, James Murphy abruptly departed, determined later to be the result of a serious illness. Steve Smyth (ex-Vicious Rumors) jumped aboard as ‘touring guitarist’, later to be invited to stay on as a permanent member. Lombardo also left the band, not being able to commit because of other projects. In 2000, Jon Allen (drums, ex- Sadus) joined the band.
After the “Riding The Snake” world tour to promote “The Gathering”, vocalist Billy was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called ‘germ cell seminoma’ in March 2001. Despite his illness and grueling cancer treatments, Billy offered his ground shaking vocals to the re-recording of Testament classics on “First Strike Still Deadly” which brought back Alex Skolnick and John Tempesta to record on the disc.
Billy battled back from his sickness and has fully recovered. The band has been touring ever since late 2002, most recently wrapping up a wildly successful South American tour in 2007. Testament has been working hard on getting the new record together at the studio in their hometown, and they have very high expectations for it.
“Die-hard testament fans are gonna love it, without a doubt,” says Barker.
Adds Billy, “The new record is very heavy but very melodic at the same time. It’s an extension from “The Gathering”. We’re also incorporating solos cuz Alex is back and we haven’t had many on the last few records.”
“I’m real excited about the new record. There’s a lot of old-school/new-school ideas. It sounds very modern. I think all Testament fans will be pleased and more,” says Peterson.
Testament is once again ready to attack the music world with their trademark brand of thrash metal, and the band is very optimistic about their future together.
“It’s come full circle. We were together, moving strong, then we broke up and had several different lineups,” says Billy. “But now we got a new band, a new label, a new album, everything’s positive. Once the record’s done, I think it’s going to be a good year coming up.”
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