TESTAMENT: THE BIG 5

Many people ask the question if there was a BIG 5…who would be the Fifth Band amongst METALLICA, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Everyone has their own opinion and there are probably a few bands that would come close but the Band that would receive the most votes would be Testament.
Testament is an American Thrash Band that was formed in 1983 in Berkley, CA. Considering the Band played the San Francisco Bay area, they received widespread exposure from the underground metal community just as fellow bands METALLICA and Megadeth. The band was originally formed by guitarist Eric Peterson…and has been through numerous line up changes during its 29 years of existence.
Many people don’t know this, but Testament was originally named Legacy, which actually became the Title of their first album…that was released in 1987. Originally joining Eric Peterson in the band was Alex Skolnick, a Joe Satriana disciple. Also joining the band was lead vocalist Chuck Billy, who replaced Steve Souza, who went on to form the Metal Band Exodus.
When “Legacy” was released in 1987….Testament quickly became a popular trademark in the Thrash Metal Community. In order to promote their new album, they began a tour with Anthrax, who was actually promoting their own new album “Among the Living.”. Legacy and it’s follow up album, consisted of many dark and gothic themes along with the occult. Testament continued to rise to the top of Metal Charts across the world.
Their 3rd album, “Practice What You Preach,” was released in 1989 and shared more realistic themes like politics and world corruption. Then came the Grunge era and Testament was failing to connect with their fans so they released a slower metal album called “The Ritual” was released in the late summer of 1992…over 20 years ago. When it was released it hit 55 on the Top 100 Bilboard List, which was the highest Testament ever went up to this day. The single “Return to Serenity” received favorable reviews and topped the charts at 22. This song received extended radio airplay…allowing them to gain a larger audience.
Up until now, Testament has released 10 Studio albums in the following order:
1) The Legacy (1987)
2) The New Order (1988)
3) Practice What You Preach (1989)
4) Souls of Black (1990)
5) The Ritual (1992)
6) Low (1994)
7) Demonic (1997)
8) The Gathering (1999)
9) The Formation of Damnation (2008)
10) The Dark Roots of Earth (2012)
From 1999-2008 the band failed to produce an album. Chuck Billy was even diagnosed with Cancer and had to temporarily quit the band. They reunited and toured from 2005-2008. Finally, in April of 2008 Testament released Formation of Damnation, which marked the return of Alex Skolnick who had left the band after “The Ritual.”. Now just recently, they released “Dark Roots of Earth” which marked the return of the original lineup. Their newest album, which was released in July , 2012 went back to their heavy roots and Alex Skolnick was better than ever.
Most people are aware of the Big 4…the concerts that toured all over the world with METALLICA, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. One always wonders who would make the list of the Big 5 if there was such thing. Testament fits the bill as closely as any other bands of this era. Even though they went through much adversity…it’s no different from these other 4 Bands.
Let’s go back 20 Years ago to 1992 when Testament released “The Ritual.”. This album was “their” Black Album (METALLICA)/ “Countdown to Extinction (Megadeth), “Among the Living (Anthrax), and “Reign in Blood” (Slayer). This album was much more mainstream than what they had put out in the past and was able to sustain some serious air play with a few songs, mainly “Return to Serenity.”. “Electric Crown” also garnered a lot of positive attention from the Metal community. This album is still heavy and really shares Alex Skolnick’s talents on guitar as he has a lot of solos…but more it established that Chuck Billy is capable of singing a more classic heavy metal than the style of Thrash that it’s fans had become accustomed to.
Testament in my mind is right up there with these bands and they deserve much consideration when establishing the Top 5 list of Thrash Bands in America. Last fall…thy supported a tour with Death Angel and Anthrax which promoted the new studio album by Anthrax “Worship Music.”. The tour was a huge success and put Testament back on the map. Me and my best friend had the pleasure of seeing a show on this tour, in north Jersey, and I was very impressed with Testament and their live stage presence and musical talents. Of course…They just released their 10th Studio album “Dark Roots of Earth” which went back to their heavy roots. I give the album a 9 out of 10 rating and highly suggest any Thrash Metal fan pick this album up. It may be their best album to date. Classic Thrash sound and heavy guitar/drum riffs. Next year I am suggesting they create the Big 5. Testament belongs in this group although they never were as popular as the other 4 bands…but they showed they belong in this class. Let’s get a petition up to METALLICA to form the Big 5. Chuck Billy still rocks and Alex Skolnick has refined his guitar skills and can play lead and rhythm with the same intensity. Buy this album…support this band!

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