Testament is a thrash metal band from Berkeley, California, formed in 1983 by guitarist Eric Peterson and his cousin, vocalist Derrick Ramirez. The duo started recruiting band members in the Bay Area and added bassist Greg Christian and drummer Mike Ronchette. The band began known as Legacy and stared playing local gigs in the Bay Area, quickly building up a local following. Testament has been credited by their fans as being one of the most prominent bands at the forefront of thrash metal during the 1980s. Over the course of three decades of music, the band has been through a number of line-up changes with Peterson remaining the only constant original band member.
The band was signed to Atlantic Records in 1986 and changed their name to Testament while recording their debut album, “The Legacy,” which arrived in 1987 and generated instant support in thrash-metal circles. The band embarked on an American and European tour with Anthrax in support of the album.
The band's second album, “The New Order,” followed in 1988 and saw the band complete another successful world tour. “Practice What You Preach” arrived one year later and saw the band move in a new direction with their lyrics focusing on politics and corruption, catching the attention of MTV's Headbanger's Ball. The success of being featured on MTV elevated the band's popularity.
1990 saw the release of their next album, “Souls of Black,” to mixed reviews amid the growing grunge movement. “The Ritual” followed in 1992 and showcased a different musical style more in the vein of a traditional of heavy metal sound. The album peaked at #55 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and spawned the hit ballad, “Return to Serenity,” which reached #22 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
By 1993 tensions were rising in the band and over the next 10 years a series of musical direction and lineup changes took place. Skolnick and Clemente left the band and were temporarily replaced by Glen Alvelais and Paul Bostaph, respectively. This lineup released the live EP, “Return to Apocalyptic City” later that year. 1994's “Low,” featured John Tempesta on drums and James Murphy on guitar. In 1997 the band released, “Demonic,” which displayed more of a death metal sound. By 1998, Ramirez, Alvelais and Dette had departed before the release of 1999’s “The Gathering.” The rhythm section on “The Gathering” was highly respected, consisting of metal fretless bass pioneer Steve DiGiorgio and original Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. The sound of the album was largely a combination of death metal, thrash metal and a minor black metal influence from Eric Peterson's side project, Dragonlord.
It would be almost a decade before the band issued its next studio album, 2008’s “The Formation of Damnation,” which reached #59 on the Billboard 200. Testament issued their 10th studio album, “Dark Roots of Earth” in 2012, which took three years to write, record and release. It has become their most successful charting album to date, reaching #12 on the Billboard 200.