The 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time!

The 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time, #19: Testament

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The 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time

Testament 2008
MetalSucks recently polled over a hundred of metal’s most revered musicians, critics, journalists, artists, publicists, and industry insiders to find out which 25 bands represent the very BEST in the history of metal. Today we continue the countdown with California’s…

Testament
33 Votes
347 Points

Thrash metal’s highest peaks were scaled by Metallica. Its most dazzling feats belong to Megadeth. The scariest thrash music is Slayer’s. Most soul? Anthrax. But Testament is the best overall thrash metal experience. Arch-poppy and made of iron, Testament scores the largest number of awesome songs (though the awesomest songs mostly belong to Metallica, the jazziest to Megadeth, and so on). And like those four,Testament was born awesome: Their first two albums ripped (via the Goya of riffs, Eric Peterson) and dazzled (via teenaged virtuoso Alex Skolnick). Then, it was for their third album that I joined the Testament story in progress: Practice What You Preach. It was one of their slowest albums, and scoldy, but nonchalant. Next arrived the monochromatic Souls Of Black, a back-loaded gem that inched toward extreme metal.

But it’s their fifth album, The Ritual, that tells the story of the band Testament (though not the story of Testament’s sound). The Ritual is Testament’s Black Album, their Crytic Writings, their Sound Of White Noise. It could be called “hard rock” if its guitars weren’t so heavy — which goes to illustrate how stubborn-ass Testament made a commercial album their way: Its guitars are thrash-level heavy even though they’re at work on a Aerosmith-shaped album. You wonder if guitarist Eric Peterson agreed to pace his riffs at mid-tempos per the post-“Enter Sandman” reality, but did not budge on guitar tone. And if he agreed to play hard rock songs on the condition that they must not be marred by boring non-riffs. And if he and lead guitarist Alex Skolnick secretly liked the challenge of creating an LP of angry, unshitty arena rock.

They succeeded — and the guitars represented just one obstacle that The Ritual overcame. There must’ve been other problems attendant to a band’s most commercial album: ie. the singer’s new job description, the vibe of manipulation in high-precision songwriting, the specter of toothlessness, etc. All that shit is the point here in 2014: Even with hands tied behind their backs, Testament achieved an awesome album. Sure, it’s no shock that a half-decade later, Peterson and singer Chuck Billy authored a masterpiece that was as extreme as The Ritual was not. Duh, that’s their native language, the fulfillment of destiny, and the best result of a big check written to drummer Dave Lombardo. But first, via The Ritual basically Testament slugged a home run using a bat made of pretzel. Fuckin’ A. That’s Testament.

And it was from the start of the post-Thrash world that Testament fared best. That didn’t stop after The Ritual, when Low arrived
(heavier than the Big Four except Divine Intervention), then their first According-To-Hoyle death metal album Demonic (heavier than Diabolus In Musica), then the aforementioned triumph of The Gathering with Slayer’s former drummer. And all the while Testament never got needy and sweaty, never seemed to give a shit about their station in metal, never seemed to flag in confidence. Peterson and Billy may have needed Testament fans, but they don’t need their approval.

A side effect of that vibe is that Testament’s reunion with two founding members — which arrived at the exact hour of thrash metal’s return to interest — didn’t seem hinky at all. For in the interim, nobody had embarrassed themselves; rather, The Gathering had gathered esteem, Skolnick had improved his guitar playing somehow (???), and bassist Greg Christian had been laying low. By their first new album The Formation Of Damnation, virtuosity was hot again, and the dudes who had grown up with thrash were running magazines and websites. And Billy had beaten cancer. In this welcoming atmosphere, Testament’s vibe got kinda merry. At concerts, you’d see Billy air-guitaring entire solos on his mic mini-stand, you’d spy Peterson smiling gamely.

And though their band’s adversity was kinda over, they haven’t softened or slackened. Their next album ruled too, and their great vibe fed into their concert energy: One night I observed Billy rear back and cluster-bomb the verses of “3 Days In Darkness” and Peterson’s heaviness and finesse (not tidiness and noodling). It might make you ask yourself: Which of the old thrash bands can hang with Lamb Of God, Gojira, and their ilk both in concert and on records? Which band has eschewed breakdowns, djent, and untested production, and doesn’t sound old-fashioned? Which has the highest volume of awesome jams, if not the highest number of the awesomest jams? Testament.

THE LIST SO FAR:

#20 – At The Gates (28 Votes, 331 Points)
#21 – AC/DC (17 Votes, 313 Points)

#22 – Celtic Frost (24 Votes, 310 Points)
#23 – Ozzy Osbourne (21 Votes, 290 Points)
#24 – Napalm Death (22 Votes, 278 Points)
#25 – Lamb of God (29 Votes, 277 Points)

SPONSORED VIDEO CONTENT, PRESENTED BY QELLO:

THE ILLUSTRIOUS PANEL OF VOTERS:

Chris Alfano – East of the Wall, Gear Gods
Paul Allender – White Empress, ex-Cradle of Filth
Rob Arnold – The Elite, ex-Chimaira, ex-Six Feet Under
Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga) – Primordial
Chuck B.B. – Artist
Matt Bachand – Shadows Fall
Micke Berg – Below
Chuck Billy – Testament
Randy Blythe – Lamb of God
Paul Booth – Last Rites Tattoo and Art Gallery
Jake Bowen – Periphery
Terry Butler – Obituary
Liz Ciavarella-Brenner – Publicist, Earsplit PR
Blake Charlton – Ramming Speed
Richard Christy – Charred Walls of the Damned, ex-Death, ex-Iced Earth, ex-Control Denied, The Howard Stern Show
Monte Conner – President, Nuclear Blast Entertainment
Bruce Corbitt – Rigor Mortis, Warbeast
Doc Coyle – ex-God Forbid
Sergeant D. – MetalSucks, Stuff You Will Hate
Topon Das – Fuck the Facts, Merdarahta
Anso DF – MetalSucks
Peter Dolving – Rosvo, ex-The Haunted
Ryan J. DowneySuperhero Artist Management
Sacha Dunable – Intronaut, Bereft, Dunable Guitars
Vince Edwards – Head of Publicity, Metal Blade Records
Excretakano – MetalSucks
Exmortus
Extreme Management Group
D.X. Ferris – Slayer ScholarMetalSucks
Ryan Fleming – Black Table
Jon Freeman – Publicist, Freeman Promotions
Matthew Friesen – Culted
Ville Friman – Insomnium
Mike Gitter – Senior Director of A&R, Razor & Tie
Frank Godla – Metal Injection, Meek is Murder
Mike Greene – Director of Digital Marketing, Razor & Tie
Shane Handel – Set and Setting
Jeff Hodak – Head of Sales, Razor & Tie
Terence Hannum – Locrian
John Hoffman – Weekend Nachos
Mark Hunter – ex-Chimaira
Don JamiesonThat Metal Show
Daniel Jansson – Culted
John Jarvis – Pig Destroyer, Fulgora
Gaz Jennings – Death Penalty, ex-Cathedral
Patrik Jensen – The Haunted
Rick Jimenez – Extinction A.D.
Kassa – Below
Mirai Kawashima – Sigh
“Grim” Kim KellyMetalSucks
Zeena Koda
Erik Kluiber – Gypsyhawk
Eyal LeviUnstoppable Killing Machine, Dååth
Jason Lekberg – IKILLYA
Adam Lindmark – Morbus Chron
Ryan Lipynsky – Serpentine Path, Unearthly Trance, The Howling Wind
Jonah Livingston – Ramming Speed
Bob Lugowe – Director of Promotions/Marketing, Relapse Records, Brutal Panda Records
James Malone – Arsis, Necromancing the Stone
Jose Mangin – Director of Music Programming, Sirius XM Liquid Metal
Bobby Mansfield – 16
Misha Mansoor – Periphery
Morgan McGrath – Live Nation
Mike “Gunface” McKenzie – The Red Chord, Stomach Earth, Nightkin
Vince Neilstein – MetalSucks
Eventansvarig Biostaden Nyköping – Below
Chris Ojeda – Byzantine
Casey Orr – Rigor MortisWarbeast
Rob Pasbani – Metal Injection
Anders Persson – Portrait
Chris Pervelis – Internal Bleeding
Karim Peter – Artist Relations, IndieMerchandising
Raphael Pinsker – Booking Agent, 3Thirteen Entertainment Group
Polar
Markus “Rabapagan” – Metsatöll
Josh Rand – Stone Sour
Emperor Rhombus – MetalSucks
Gus Rios – Gruesome
Tobias Rosén – Noctum
Axl Rosenberg – MetalSucks
Travis Ryan – Cattle Decapitation, Murder Construct, Nader Sadek
Saturn
Marc Schapiro, Branch Marketing Collective
Zach Shaw – The Syndicate
Patrick Sheridan – Fit For An Autopsy
Alex Skolnick – Testament
Brian Slagel – Chairman/CEO, Metal Blade Records
Mark Solotroff – Anatomy of Habit, Bloodlust!, BLOODYMINDED
Steve “Zetro” Souza – Exodus, Hatriot
Kevin Stewart-Panko – Decibel, MetalSucks
Black String – Vampire
Jason Suecof – Audiohammer Studios
Bram Teitelman – Metal Insider
Nick Tieder – No Jacket Required Marketing, Indegoot
Tone Deaf Touring
Aaron Turner – Old Man Gloom, ex-ISIS, Hydra Head Records
Brody Uttley – Rivers of Nihil
George Vallee – Head of Publicity, Street Smart Marketing
Dirk Verbeuren – Soilwork, Bent Sea, Scarve
Jens Vestergren – Below
Jake Wade – Columns
Kelly Walsh – Publicist, Prosthetic Records
Mike Wohlberg – The Fat Kid Illustration
Wookubus – The PRP
Zodiac

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