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Music notes: Testament's new album celebrates band reunion

Back in 1992, I was an intern for the Deseret Morning News. I spent my time answering phones, rewriting press releases and covering stories that the veteran reporters couldn't do . . . or more accurately, didn't want to do.

And a lot of what those veteran reporters didn't want to do were rock-music shows

The first thrash-metal show I covered was Testament. I had seen that band a few times before I joined the News staff and loved the band's intensity and power. I had all the Testament albums and a poster in my room, next to posters of Black Sabbath, Metallica, Led Zeppelin and Styx.

I still have a Testament rock-star trading card on display at my desk here.

Anyway, when I found out the band was going to be performing in the now demolished Fairpark Coliseum, I e-mailed the boss and asked if there were any takers. No one wanted to do it, naturally, so I was happily given the go-ahead.

I remember interviewing drummer Louie Clemente about the band's new album at the time — "The Ritual." We went through the album song by song and he gave me the skinny on how the tunes came to be. "Live is nothing but a ritual," he said. I was surprised at how down-to-earth the drummer was.

I was more surprised when I went to the show a few days later. Clemente had dropped out of the band and one-time Slayer drummer Paul Bostoph had taken over for him.

In fact, the band was in the midst of a lineup makeover. Lead guitarist Alex Skolnick, who eventually became part of the Christmas rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra, was also "sick," and Glen Alvelias was taking his place.

Now, after nearly 13 years, Testament's classic lineup is back together. To celebrate, lead singer Chuck Billy, guitarist Eric Peterson, bassist Greg Christian (who left in 1997), Clemente and Skolnick have released "Live in London," a DVD and a CD.

The album features the dark anthems "The New Order," "The Preacher," "Souls of Black," "Into the Pit," "Practice What You Preach" and, of course, "Disciples of the Watch," just to name a few.

While most of the guys have put on a few pounds, except for Skolnick, the band still can play. Even Clemente, who opened up a real-estate office and hadn't played his drums since 1992, can still play fast and furious — although, on some tracks, one-time Testament and Rob Zombie drummer John Tempesta gives his power drive to the show.

I like the live-album reunion thing because it shows that Testament can play and sound good. Sure, they could remix it using studio tricks, but the fact that the DVD shows the band warts and all is refreshing. It's not bad.

There had been talks in the past of this lineup getting back together to record an album, but schedules and other things got in the way, Billy says during a DVD bonus interview. When things had settled down, Billy made some calls, and within two days the band was back together.

I hope the band will record a new studio album. They could call it "Testament Resurrected."


E-mail: scott@desnews.com