TESTAMENT: THE BIG 5
Written By Jason Voorhees.
Many people ask the question; if there was a BIG 5 of THRASH…who would be the fifth band amongst METALLICA, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer?
Some enthusiasts would say that Exodus belongs on this list. Others would emphatically argue that it's Overkill. Still others would vote for Voivod or Celtic Frost. And some place-some where, Kreator fans are angrily banging their fists in disagreement.
The truth is, no matter what band that you believe belongs on this Mount Rushmore, it's always going to be a matter of opinion. However; you know what they say about having an opinion: opinions are like assholes...everyone has...nevermind.
With that being said, one fact remains. If there were a Big 5 of thrash, Testament would rise above the rest...
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 in the underground metal community, just as fellow bands METALLICA and Megadeth had done.
The band was originally formed by guitarist Eric Peterson…and has been through numerous line up changes ever since, during it's 37 years of existence.
Many people don’t know this, but Testament was originally named Legacy, which actually became the title of their first album…and was released in 1987.
Originally joining Eric Peterson in the band was Alex Skolnick, a Joe Satriani disciple. Also joining the band was lead vocalist Chuck Billy, who replaced Steve Souza, who then went on to form 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 were actually promoting their own new album 'Among the Living'. The record has since become a staple for the signature thrash metal playbook.
The bands earlier records focused on dark themes while taking a deep dive into the occult. As the records mounted, Testament continued their rise to the top of metal charts across the world.
Their 3rd album, 'Practice What You Preach' was released in 1989. It was the band's highest charting record to date and shared more realistic themes like politics and world corruption.
Then came the "Grunge Era" and Testament was failing to connect with their fans.
At this point the band released a slower, more mainstream metal album called 'The Ritual'. This marked a turning point for the band as the record rose to 55th on the Top 200 Bilboard List. It was the most successful record up until that point and found them at the top of their game!
The single “Return to Serenity” received favorable reviews as it topped the charts at 22. This song received extended radio airplay…allowing the band to attract a larger audience.
Testament has assembled quite an extensive catalog over the years. In fact, 2020 saw them release their 13th studio album, 'Titans of Creation':
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) First Strike Deadly (2001)
10) The Formation of Damnation (2008)
11) Dark Roots of Earth (2012)
12) Brotherhood of the Snake (2016)
13) Titans of Creation (2020)
Check out Philly Rock Radio Blog - PHILLY ROCK RADIO to see the band's albums ranked worst to first.
From 1999-2008 the band failed to produce an album. During this time Chuck Billy was diagnosed with Cancer and had to temporarily quit the band. The band then 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'. Then in 2012, they released 'Dark Roots of Earth' which marked the return of the original lineup. This album saw the band return to their heavy roots and signature form.
Testament continues to be a major force in thrash today. 'Titans of Creation' is an extremely heavy and in your face record. They remain one of the hardest working and most consistent bands of the thrash metal era. With that being said, they definitely rank among the best of the generation.
One always wonders who would make the list of the Big 5 if there was such a thing. Well, I am here to tell you that Testament fits that bill closer than any other bands on the list! The new order has arrived and the titans of creation have spoken. Testament, welcome to the BIG 5 of THRASH!
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