Testament, a Bay Area Thrash Metal band formed in '83, initially wanted to call themselves Legacy, but that was the trademarked name of a Jazz band. So they became Testament. Still, "The Legacy" was the title of their '87 debut.
Early line-up changes, something that would be a regular occurrence in later years, finally fell into place with Eric Peterson (guitar) - the group's only constant member, Alex Skolnick (guitar), Greg Christian (bass), Louie Clemente (drums) and finally Chuck Billy (vocals) who joined just prior to the recording of "The Legacy."
In addition to "The Legacy," Testament's early albums, "The New Order" ('88), Practice What "You Preach" ('89), "Souls Of Black" ('90) and "The Ritual" ('92), delivered a worldwide audience.
"Practice What You Preach" was significant for minimizing the occult and gothic themes found on their first two albums. Lyrics focused on politics and corruption. "The Ritual" moved from Thrash to a slower, slightly more traditional Heavy Metal sound.
Skolnick left after "The Ritual" because his playing was deemed "too melodic" by the rest of the band. Meanwhile, Clemente bailed on the music business entirely.
Those departures opened the floodgates. Over the next twelve years or so, over a dozen musicians came and went - many were drummers, including original Slayer stickman Dave Lombardo.
"Low" ('94), "Demonic ('97) and "The Gathering" ('99) kept the group viable.
After "The Gathering" was released, then lead guitarist James Murphy was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Following surgery, he made a full recovery.
Two years later, Billy was also diagnosed with a type of cancer called germ cell seminoma - one of the most treatable and curable cancers. Friends of Billy organized the Thrash of the Titans benefit concert, featuring seminal Bay Area thrash bands. Skolnick and Greg Christian, both long-absent, performed with Testament.
Billy's cancer was treated successfully.
"The Formation Of Damnation," issued on the Nuclear Blast imprint was Testament's first studio album in nine years. It was also the first to feature Skolnick since 92's "The Ritual," and the first with bassist Christian since '94's "Low." The album led to a slew of festival appearances.
Recording Testament's next album ran into a snag. Paul Bostaph was seriously injured in a fall. "I had a lump on my wrist," Bostaph told dummerzone.com.
"I wasn't sure what it was and I went into physical therapy and the lump had caused tendonitis, so it kept me off the drum set for a while." Gene Hoglan, who played on '97's "Demonic" album, was recruited to fill with Bostaph expected to return. However, Bostaph later quit to pursue his own musical interests. Hoglan became a full-time member.
Testament's tenth studio album, "Dark Roots Of Earth," dropped in '12 and made its debut at #12 on the Billboard 200. That was the highest chart entry of any Testament album. Earlier, Peterson had stated that Testament would record an eleventh studio album if "Dark Roots Of Earth" did well.
But before there was any studio activity, Testament released a live DVD/double album "Dark Roots Of Thrash" in '13.
Just a few months later, Christian left Testament again. As a result, Steve DiGiorgio returned to the band.
And in '15, Billy stated the group was "more than halfway done with the new songs" for their next effort.
Their "next effort" was "The Brotherhood Of The Snake." "The Brotherhood of the Snake was actually a society about 6,000 years ago that debarred all religions," Billy explained. "It was just a fascinating topic that caught our eye and attention and spawned a lot of songs."
1987 The Legacy
1988 The New Order
1989 Practice What You Preach
1990 Souls Of Black
1992 The Ritual
1999 The Gathering
2008 The Formation Of Damnation
2012 Dark Roots Of Earth
2016 The Brotherhood Of The Snake