A Testament to Longevity
CoC talks to thrash legends Testament
by: Adrian Bromley
Testament -- know them?

Of course you do. This is the band that stormed out of the San Francisco's Bay Area in the late 1980s, kicking up their heels and giving it to us good with their monstrous array of thrashing numbers. Much like the leaders of the pack at that time -- Exodus, Metallica and Slayer --, Testament was oriented around one sole purpose: play metal. And that they did.

From that era up to the present it has been a glorious but turbulent ride for Testament. Line-up changes, label changes and anything else that could plague a band (including a short break-up scenario) has been thrown into the face of Testament and its bandmembers. But like a trooper they ride on, carrying the flag of metal and playing hard 'n' heavy. Testament, one of the few veteran metal acts out there playing true to form and not selling out, is poised to conquer the metal world as we lead into the millennium with the brilliantly etched _The Gathering_ record [CoC #39]. With a line-up that consists of Testament founding members Chuck Billy (vocals) and guitarist Eric Peterson, guitar slayer James Murphy (ex-Death, ex-Obituary), Steve DiGorgio (Sadus and ex-Death) and drum God Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer, Grip Inc.), where could they go wrong, I ask you? Where?

"It's been a long hard year for us, but finally the new record is out", says guitarist Eric Peterson from his home in California. "We came off a long hard tour and our distribution of the last record [_Demonic_] fell to shit. It's been a struggle with us for a while. Atlantic Records dropped the ball with the _Low_ record a few years back and so we put out _Demonic_ on our own label Burnt Offerings and the distribution just fell right through on us. We were getting really frustrated with all that was happening and pissed off at doing this, but I knew we had a lot of good material in us so we pressed on. We started working on this record."

"It was a really cool vibe for the making of this record. In terms of getting to work with Dave Lombardo, we were touring South America and needed a drummer to go, but he was busy, as expected", explains Peterson. "He mentioned he wanted to jam one day, so when we were working on the record he came up for a few sessions with us and we jammed out some numbers. I'd be ready with my riffs and we made sure it all worked out. The two songs that came out of those jams were "Careful What You Wish For" and "Eyes of Wrath". It was just a good vibe that both Chuck [Billy] and I we're getting from Dave. Getting James [Murphy] and Steve [DiGiorgio] into the band was pretty much of the same. We knew them and they came into the picture. It's all worked out, as you can tell by giving the record a listen."

With Billy and Peterson being the sole founding members of Testament left, it must be a strong bond between the two to keep things rolling and staying metal. Right? "Yeah... that's true. That's exactly as it has been. We tried to keep the line-up that we had with _Low_, but it didn't work out. I wish it would have, 'cause it was a strong line-up, but it didn't. After we had broken up for a few weeks, we hooked up with Gene Hoglan [SYL, ex-Death] and it got the juices flowing again and it was only for a short time. Things went certain ways and there were more line-up changes. It just never seems to end... <laughs> It never ends with Testament. We just figure each time out we'll try to make a different record, a different cycle of where Testament is at, and I think we have done that over the years and because of the line-up changes, etc., it makes each record unique in its own right."

The evolution of Testament has never really strayed from being a metal band and that is pleasing to many die-hard metal fans out there. Why does Peterson think that is, that the band has not geared down and ventured off to other musical styles or even slowed down? "I think after the split with the original line-up and all the changes that we have endured we have managed to stay heavy. We've butted heads with many members to change things around and that has been happening throughout the years, but it came to a point where both Chuck and I decided we aren't going to compromise any more. Testament has to be heavy. We're not changing one bit. We see it like this: if you feel the need to branch out and do alternative pop/rock or something like that, start an alter ego type band. Testament should be what it's always been: a metal band. We have to keep our loyal fans pleased with what we do and if we go off and do something different we may lose those fans. We're metal still and our fans respect that."

About the meaning of the new record to him, he comments: "I think of this record as just another Testament record. It's a gathering of the millennium and a gathering of some great musicians. It's a super group for metal music and I think it's a really good metal record. It's true to form and we're not copying any other metal acts. I think Testament is bringing metal back in the most sincere way."

(article submitted 7/7/1999)

8/12/1997 D Schinzel Testament: Thrash Up Yo Ass, Muthafucka
8/13/2012 A El Naby 7.5 Testament - Dark Roots of Earth
4/27/2008 J Smit 9 Testament - The Formation of Damnation
4/12/2002 A McKay 8 Testament - First Strike Still Deadly
6/15/1999 A Bromley 9 Testament - The Gathering
1/1/1998 D Schinzel 6.5 Testament - Signs of Chaos: The Best of Testament
7/14/1997 D Schinzel 7 Testament - Demonic
9/14/1997 S Hoeltzel Testament / Stuck Mojo / Strapping Young Lad Demonic Pigwalk
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