Music / Testament

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Practicing what they've preached since 1983.

Testament is a Thrash Metal band from San Francisco. Formed under the name Legacy in 1983, they took on their current name in 1986. They are generally held as one of the leading bands of the thrash scene, although they've never achieved the same mainstream recognition as the famous Big Four.

Discography:
  • The Legacy (1987)
  • The New Order (1988)
  • Practice What You Preach (1989)
  • Souls of Black (1990)
  • The Ritual (1992)
  • Low (1994)
  • Demonic (1997)
  • The Gathering (1998)
  • First Strike Still Deadly (2001)
  • The Formation of Damnation (2008)
  • Dark Roots of Earth (2012)
  • The Brotherhood of the Snake (2016)

Members:
  • Current:
    • Eric Peterson (rhythm guitar; 1983-present)
    • Alex Skolnick (lead guitar; 1983-1993, 2001, 2005-present)
    • Chuck Billy (vocals; 1986-present)
    • Gene Hoglan (drums; 1997, 2011-present
    • Steve DiGiorgio (bass; 1998-2004, 2014-present)

  • Former:note 
    • Derrick Ramirez (Vocals and Guitar; 1983)(Bass; 1997)
    • Steve Souza (Vocals; 1983-1986)note 
    • Louie Clemente (Drums; 1983-1993, 2005)
    • Greg Christian (Bass; 1983-1996; 2004-2014)
    • Glen Alvelais (Guitar; 1993, 1997-1998)
    • Paul Bostaph (Drums; 1993, 2007-2011)
    • James Murphy (Guitar; 1994-1996, 1998-2000)
    • Dave Lombardo (Drums; 1998-1999)

This band provides examples of:

  • Anti-Love Song: Taken Up to 11 with "Leave Me Forever."
  • Apocalypse Wow: "3 Days in Darkness."
  • Badass Native: "Native Blood," Chuck Billy himself is one of the most prominent Native American figures in music.
  • Big Fun / Fat Bastard: Chuck, especially in his latter years. Some say he is a thicker version of Slayer's Tom Araya.
  • Cassandra Truth: "The Preacher" is about someone who frequently tells these.
  • Cover Version:
  • Darker and Edgier: After The Ritual, they got much heavier and Chuck started experimenting with harsher vocal techniques.
  • Driven to Suicide: "Falling Fast" from Souls of Black.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • The title track of The Ritual is 7:34.
    • From Dark Roots of Earth, we get "Cold Embrace" (7:45), "Throne of Thorns" (7:04, 7:41 for the extended edit), and "Powerslave" (6:51).
  • Evil Overlooker: The cover of The New Order.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "The Ballad." Guess the style of the song.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Genre Shift: From standard thrash to a more Death Metal sound during the 90's. Their recent material has fused the sounds of both eras.
  • Green Aesop: "Greenhouse Effect" on Practice What You Preach.
  • Groove Metal: Most of Low. Demonic was also inspired by this genre.
  • Guttural Growler: Chuck Billy, although not to the usual extent. While he is more than capable of the traditional death metal growl, he usually uses a very distinctive roar.
  • Heavy Meta: Averted by "Into the Pit." It is hard to say what it is about, but the lyrics certainly have nothing to do with moshing.
    • Subverted during the band's live performances, as it is usually dedicated to the people participating in the mosh pit.
  • He's Back: The Formation of Damnation served as this for Chuck and Alex - Chuck had recovered from cancer, and Alex had rejoined the band. True to this trope, the album kicks ass.
  • Iconic Item: Chuck's light-up, jeweled mic stand.
  • Jerk Ass: If Greg Christian's account of the circumstances leading to his departure is to be believed, Eric and Chuck are terrible people.
  • Lead Drummer: Dave Lombardo arguably (not only due to his reputation with Slayer, but his performance on The Gathering being incredibly highly lauded), and more definitely Gene Hoglan seeing the massive number of bands he has been in.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Ritual is the most accessible album the band released, though the few albums before had a more polished and melodic sound than the first ones. The Formation of Damnation, while definitely a heavy album, is this to The Gathering.
  • Metal Band Mascot: The nameless demon... thing with an Overly Long Tongue often seen in an inverted pentagram found on The Legacy, the corner of Low and First Strike Still Deadly, among other places, probably counts.
  • Metal Scream: One of Chuck's trademarks, especially on their earliest albums on songs like "Burnt Offerings" and "The Preacher."
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Most of their stuff (practically all of their The Legacy to Souls of Black material namely) is about 8. The Ritual varies from about 6-8, while starting from Low they have recorded several songs ("Dog Faced Gods," most of the songs on Demonic, "D.N.R (Do Not Resuscitate)," "Fall of Sipledome," "The Formation of Damnation," "True American Hate," etc.) that go into 9. "Legions of the Dead" borders on a soft 10, while the band drops to a 4 with "Return to Serenity."
  • New Sound Album:
    • Some songs on The New Order have soft atmospheric intros on certain tracks, also it features the first instrumental tracks in the band's discography. Its production is also gritty, muffled, and fuzzy, giving it a slightly rawer sound.
    • Practice What You Preach is noticeably more melodic and has a cleaner production.
    • Souls of Black seems to have the tempo dialed down and shows a more traditional heavy metal sound that would be further explored in The Ritual.
    • The Ritual, being "The Black Album" of the band, deviated from the band's earlier thrash metal sound in favor of a more traditional heavy metal sound with hints of hard rock, and it has much better production than its predecessors.
    • Low marks a 180 degree turn as it's much heavier due to its Groove Metal influence, tuned-down guitars, and Chuck Billy using a lower register/roaring on some tracks. "Dog Faced Gods" of this album is the band's first flirtation with Death Metal.
    • Demonic further evolves the band into a heavier direction, with a much more prominent death metal tone heard throughout, while retaining the groove metal sound of Low.
    • The Gathering marks a return of the thrash sound the band previously had while mixing it with their heavier sound of the '90s.
    • The Formation of Damnation abandons the death metal aspects of previous albums for the most part.
    • Dark Roots of Earth introduces blast beats and is generally faster. It also features the first ballad since "Trail of Tears" from Low.
  • Power Ballad: "The Ballad", "The Legacy," "The Ritual," "Return to Serenity," "Trail of Tears," and "Cold Embrace." "Leave Me Forever," to a lesser degree.
  • The Remake: First Strike Still Deadly is a re-recording of some of their most well-liked tracks from their first two albums.
  • Renaissance Man: Alex has also found the time to play with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and create his own jazz fusion group.
  • Revolving Door Band: Eric is the only consistent member, and him and Chuck are the only ones who have been present on all their albums. From The Ritual onwards (the last album with their "classic" Peterson/Skolnick/Billy/Christian/Clemente lineup), every subsequent album has been recorded with a different lineup as the previous album.
  • Self-Titled Album: A variation - their first album, The Legacy, is named for the original band name and in fact was recorded while still going under the name Legacy.
  • Skunk Stripe: Alex has a natural one. Also doubles as Anime Hair.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Somewhat unusually for a Thrash Metal band, they have a number of these, or at least moments of it.
    • The New Order has several spacey and acoustic passages in it sprinkled throughout the album.
    • "The Ballad" from Practice What You Preach was their first definite example. "The Legacy" on Souls of Black, "Return to Serenity" on The Ritual (which sticks out for being on a Surprisingly Gentle Album) and "Trail of Tears" on Low would follow suit. The Live at the Fillmore Live Album even included acoustic rerecordings of the latter three with backing female vocals.
    • Later made a comeback on Dark Roots of Earth with "Cold Embrace", although that song has moments of aggression.
  • Title Track: Most of their albums have straight examples of these, exceptions of varying amounts being The Legacy (although a song called "The Legacy" would later appear on Souls of Black, and "Burnt Offerings" contains the line "Making the legacy known"), Demonic (which opens up with a song called "Demonic Refusal", with the word "demonic" showing up in the song) and The Gathering (where the album title is nowhere to be found).
  • Vocal Evolution: Chuck, to a degree.
  • We Are The Band: Eric and Chuck are the only constant members and even then, Eric is the only founding member who never left.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Most of The Gathering seems to consist of this. While there are a few songs with obvious themes ("3 Days of Darkness" is, for example, about The Rapture), most of the lyrics are utterly ridiculous.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Music/Testament