Testament is an American thrash metal band from Berkeley, California. Formed in 1983 under the name Legacy, the band’s current lineup comprises guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, lead vocalist Chuck Billy, drummer Gene Hoglan, and bassist Steve Di Giorgio. In the 34 years since its inception, Testament has had numerous lineup changes, and Peterson has been the only constant member. Billy replaced former singer Steve “Zetro” Souza (who left the band to join Exodus as the replacement of Paul Baloff) in 1986, prior to the recording of their first studio album, The Legacy, and has been a member of the band since. Peterson and Billy are the only band members to appear on every album.
Testament is often credited as one of the most popular and influential bands of the thrash metal scene, having sold over 1.4 million albums in the United States since the beginning of the SoundScan era. To date, the band has released eleven studio albums, four live albums, six compilation albums, and six singles. After signing a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1986, Testament’s first five studio albums — The Legacy (1987), The New Order (1988), Practice What You Preach (1989), Souls of Black (1990) and The Ritual (1992) — were released to widespread critical acclaim. Shortly after the release of The Ritual, Skolnick and drummer Louie Clemente left the band and were replaced by James Murphy and John Tempesta on guitar and drums respectively. After one album with Murphy and Tempesta, and the departure of original bassist Greg Christian in 1996, Testament endured many lineup changes in the late 1990s and mid-2000s, leaving Peterson as the only remaining original member left. Skolnick returned to Testament in 2005, and the band has since recorded three more studio albums with him: The Formation of Damnation (2008), Dark Roots of Earth (2012) and Brotherhood of the Snake (2016); the latter of the two peaked higher chart positions in the United States, resulting in a resurgence in popularity for Testament.
Testament was formed in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1983 by guitarist Eric Peterson and his cousin, vocalist Derrick Ramirez, also a guitarist, originally using the name Legacy. The band soon recruited bassist Greg Christian and drummer Mike Ronchette. Ramirez subsequently passed lead guitar duties to Alex Skolnick, who had studied under Bay Area guitarist Joe Satriani. Ramirez eventually departed and was replaced on lead vocals by Steve Souza before the band released one self-titled four-song demo in 1985. Ronchette left shortly after the recording and was replaced by Louie Clemente. Souza subsequently left the band to join Exodus, and suggested Chuck Billy to replace him on lead vocals. While recording their first album, the band was forced to change their name to Testament (which, according to Maria Ferrero in the May 2007 issue of Revolver, was suggested by Billy Milano of S.O.D.), because the “Legacy” name was already trademarked by a jazz band.
Testament’s first album, The Legacy, was released in April 1987 on Megaforce Records. Testament received instant fame within thrash circles and were often compared with fellow Bay Area thrash pioneers Metallica. The band quickly managed to increase their exposure by heading out on successful American and European tours with Anthrax, who were supporting their Among the Living album. On this tour, the Live at Eindhoven EP was recorded. Testament also opened for their labelmates Overkill, and Megadeth on their Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying? tour.
- Bloodstock Festival – August 11, 2017
- The Assembly, Leamington Spa – June 21, 2016
- Bloodstock Festival – August 11, 2012
Biography text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.