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Testament

Testament were the biggest thrash metal band never to reach the platinum plateau. In fact, the San Francisco quintetseemedon the vergeof challenging Metallica (their most obvious influence) in the melodic thrash sweepstakes, but their runtowardthe top was eventuallyderailed by inconsistency, bad business decisions, and the genre's dwindling appeal. Unable tochangewith the times like Metallica,Testament quickly faded from sight in the early '90s, but have remained active and verypopularwithin the metal underground.

Influenced by the then-emerging Bay Area thrash metal scene, ...read more

Testament were the biggest thrash metal band never to reach the platinum plateau. In fact, the San Francisco quintetseemedon the vergeof challenging Metallica (their most obvious influence) in the melodic thrash sweepstakes, but their runtowardthe top was eventuallyderailed by inconsistency, bad business decisions, and the genre's dwindling appeal. Unable tochangewith the times like Metallica,Testament quickly faded from sight in the early '90s, but have remained active and verypopularwithin the metal underground.

Influenced by the then-emerging Bay Area thrash metal scene, vocalist Steve Souza, guitarists Eric Peterson andDerrickRamirez, bassistGreg Christian, and drummer Louie Clemente came together as Legacy in late 1983. But it wasn't untilthearrival of lead guitarist AlexSkolnick and a name change to Testament two years later that the band's Metallica. inspiredthrash metal began distinguishing it from less-refined peers such as Forbidden and Vio-Lence. By 1986, the groupwasattracting record company attention, but was handed a severe blowwhen Souza abruptly quit to join original Bay Areascenelegends Exodus. Ironically, however, his departure would prove a godsend, as theband soon drafted a significantlymoreversatile (and downright intimidating) replacement in Chuck Billy. His greater melodic talents andinimitable, bowl-shakinggrowl would better complement the band's increasing diversity and mastery of melodic crunch.

Signed by thrash metal mecca Megaforce Records, the group lent its original name to the following year's remarkabledebut,The Legacy.Hailed as an instant classic within thrash metal circles, the album's coupling of furious riffs and harmonicsensibility stood second only to Metallica in controlled power, technical delivery, and sheer confidence. It also benefitedfromMegaforce's recently obtained distributiondeal with Atlantic Records, and Testament lived up to their promise whiletouringAmerica and Europe in support of Anthrax -- thenexperiencing their peak with the Among the Living album. Recordedon thattour, the Live at Eindhoven EP cemented Testament's standingas champions of thrash's second wave, and despitelacking theconsistency of their debut, 1988's sophomore The New Order maintainedtheir forward momentum and led to yetanotherlengthy world tour that took the band as far as South America.

More focused and driven than ever, Testament took painstaking care in constructing their follow-up, 1989's Practice WhatYouPreach -- amassive achievement that saw them expanding their melodic reach while losing none of their powerandaggression. A yearlong tour,including a long stint headlining over Savatage and Wrathchild America across theU.S.A.,ensued, and even MTV gave their videos arespectable amount of exposure. Testament truly seemed to be poised ontheverge of greatness when everything started to unravel.Offered the chance to support Judas Priest on their career. revitalizingPainkiller tour (also featuring Megadeth), Testament rushed straightfrom the back of their tour bus and into thestudio torecord 1990's Souls of Black. A hodgepodge collection of rehashed demos andunfinished ideas, the album stalled onrecordstore shelves and the seeds of frustration and discontent were sown. Not even a coveted sloton the European leg ofthe Clashof the Titans tour, alongside Slayer, Megadeth, and Suicidal Tendencies, could stall the inevitable, and thebandstartedtearing apart at the seams.

By the time they regrouped with 1992's somewhat improved The Ritual, grunge had arrived, musical tastes hadchangeddrastically, andTestament were only one of countless casualties whose once highly anticipated albums fell on deafears. Aceguitarist Skolnick, who hadlong complained of the creative limitations imposed by the band's style, was the firstcasualty,leaving to join Savatage. He was replaced byGlen Alvelais (ex-Forbidden) for the subsequent tour, which also sawthe firingof drummer Clemente midway through, replaced by anotherForbidden alum, Paul Bostaph. Following the ratherpointlessReturn to the Apocalyptic City EP, 1994's brutally negative Low -- featuringjourneyman James Murphy (Death,Obituary,Cancer, etc.) on guitar and Exodus' John Tempesta on drums -- would be their last withAtlantic. Tempesta was soonoff tojoin White Zombie and new drummer Jon Dette (ex-Evil Dead) only lasted long enough to perform on theirnext tourbeforealso leaving to join Slayer.

Amazingly, Testament persisted, launching their own Burnt Offerings label to release 1995's Live at the Fillmore andanotherstudio effort,1997's Demonic. The latter renewed their violent commitment to going back to basics, and featuredlegendarydrummer Gene Hoglan (ex-Dark Angel, Death) and returning founding member Derrick Ramirez, nowreplacingdeparted bassist Christian. While their former homeAtlantic was busy releasing the Signs of Chaos greatest. hitscollection,Testament were moving forward with yet another independentrelease, 1999's The Gathering, which saw usualsuspects Billyand Peterson supported by bassist Steve DiGiorgio, returning guitaristJames Murphy, and the awesome talentsof originalSlayer drummer Dave Lombardo.

A major snag was right around the corner, however, when popular frontman Chuck Billy was diagnosed withcancer,prompting a slew ofbenefit concerts throughout the Bay Area to raise funds for his treatment. Thankfully, herecovered indue time, and Testament chose tocelebrate by welcoming back former members Steve Souza and Alex Skolnick(nowinvolved with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, butpredominantly acting as a jazz player fronting his own New York-basedtrio)to participate in a personally sanctioned collection of their best-loved songs, released in 2001 as First Strike StillDeadly.Eric Peterson was also active with a black metal side project named Dragonlordaround this time, and little was heardofTestament in the next few years.

Another retrospective collection (Days of Darkness, featuring one disc of highlights from the group's late-'90s releases andasecondsimply recycling First Strike Still Deadly) was released in 2004, and in 2005 Testament's classic lineup ofBilly,Skolnick, Peterson,Christian, and Clemente reunited for a tour including several major European festivalengagements,bringing along occasional drummer JohnTempesta to spell their long inactive original drummer on some of theirmorechallenging material. In 2008, Testament released their firststudio album in nine years, The Formation of Damnation. « hide

Similar Bands: Kreator, Demolition Hammer, Exodus, Death Angel, Exhorder

LPs
Dark Roots of Earth
07/27/2012

3.8
406 Votes
The Formation of Damnation
2008

3.8
637 Votes
The Gathering
1999

4
557 Votes
Demonic
1997

2.8
312 Votes
Low
1994

3.4
337 Votes
The Ritual
1992

3.4
355 Votes
Souls of Black
1990

3.5
451 Votes
Practice What You Preach
1989

3.8
556 Votes
The New Order
1988

4.2
737 Votes
The Legacy
1987

4.2
715 Votes
EPs
Return to the Apocalyptic City
1993

3.3
44 Votes
Live at Eindhoven
1987

3.4
5 Votes
Live Albums
Dark Roots of Thrash
10/15/2013

4.4
14 Votes
Live at Eindhoven '87
2009

3.5
14 Votes
Live in London
2005

4.2
33 Votes
Live at the Fillmore
1995

3.7
46 Votes
Compilations
The Spitfire Collection
2007

3.7
6 Votes
Days of Darkness
2004

3.7
8 Votes
First Strike Still Deadly
2001

3.9
108 Votes
The Very Best of Testament
2000

4.2
16 Votes
Signs of Chaos
1997

3.6
28 Votes
The Best of Testament
1996

4.3
2 Votes

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