Hailing from Berkeley, Calif., Testament are not only a pivotal staple in the Bay Area thrash scene but are also a world player in heavy metal in general. With 10 studio albums under their belt — and each unique in its own way — one can only imagine what their new album in September will sound like. For now, though, let’s appreciate the things that Testament have done to keep the spirit of heavy metal alive and well.
1. They’ve Played with Legendary Acts
Throughout their storied career, Testament have had the honour of playing with several heavy-metal pioneers, like in September of 1990 when they toured Europe with Megadeath, Slayer, and Suicidal Tendencies. Entitled Clash of the Titans, this tour established Testament’s role in the thrash-metal scene as an undeniable powerhouse. Along the way they’ve also opened for such legends as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Anthrax, and Judas Priest. Being on the road with these hardcore legends taught Testament a lot about how to be heavy metal royalty.
2. They Know How to Have a Fun Time
During the Clash of the Titans tour, all four bands spent the night at a bar in Scotland. After some excessive drinking, Chuck Billy decided to punch a glass menu and was taken to the hospital by Slayer’s Tom Araya. When the two intoxicated lead singers arrived at the hospital, they scared the doctors and nurses so much that the stitches for Billy’s hand got messed up. Today, his hand still has a terrible scar from that crazy night.
3. They Protect Their Own
On a night off in New Orleans, Testament and their road crew decided to hit up a bar on Bourbon Street. After a large group of bikers started to team up on a member of Testament’s crew, a “movie scene” barroom brawl occurred. Punches were thrown, pool cues were used as weapons, chairs were broken over people’s heads, and some guys from the crew even went to jail. But it was all worth it in defending one of their own.
4. They Have Manly Day Jobs
For the majority of Testament’s existence, Chuck Billy worked for a trucking company whenever he wasn’t on the road. He says, “I was always the kind of guy that when I came off the road I didn’t wanna sit at home, I had to stay busy, and fortunately I had a friend that owns a trucking company that hauls U.S. mail. I ended up being a safety coordinator for the company and I traveled around doing safety lectures to all the truck drivers.” Even when he’s not kicking ass on the road, the lead singer still finds ways to live the metal lifestyle and stay busy.
5. They Filmed a Music Video on a Native Reservation
For their song “Native Blood,” Testament filmed the music video on the native reservation where lead singer Chuck Billy grew up. With this song Billy decided to write about his Native American heritage and use his family’s native land as the setting. Filming a music video where you grew up is already awesome, but with the added lesson that comes with this song, it’s also pretty metal.
6. They Let Their Fans Co-Own a Song
Also with “Native Blood”, Testament allowed their fans to buy shares in the song that ranged from $15 to $100. In return, they received a hand-signed certificate from Chuck Billy and Eric Peterson. “Once you own a piece of our song, there’s no turning back,” said Billy. “You’re a part of us.” If that’s not metal, we don’t know what is.
7. They Conquered Cancer
The members of Testament have always had to overcome some sort of obstacle. For James Murphy and Chuck Billy, one of those obstacles was cancer. After the release of The Gathering, lead guitarist Murphy was diagnosed with a brain tumour, but thanks to various fundraisers, he was able to afford surgery and make a full recovery. At the beginning of the 21st century, Billy was diagnosed with a rare form of testicular cancer. In August of 2001, friends of his organised a benefit concert entitled Thrash of the Titans, featuring several influential Bay Area thrash bands and many former Testament members. He soon made a full recovery afterward.
8. They Know How to Make a Statement
At a party for their record label, Chuck Billy believed that Testament’s performance was being sabotaged and decided to do something about it. During the band’s performance he went crazy, bringing down the stage and causing as much destruction as possible.
9. They Can Show Off Their Soft Side
Just because you’re in a hardcore metal band doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the simple things. Earlier this year, members of Testament took a visit to the Motley Zoo animal rescue shelter in Redmond, Wash., to cuddle with some puppies. There’s nothing un-metal about the member’s interactions with these little guys.
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