Testament was one of the first thrash metal bands to emerge from the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s. Originally formed as 'Legacy' in 1983 by founding members Eric Peterson (rhythm guitar), Derrick Ramirez (guitar) and Louie Clemente (drums), the line-up included vocalist Steve Souza and Greg Christian (bass). Ramirez was later replaced by wunderkind Alex Skolnick (lead guitar). Souza soon departed to join Exodus and suggested that the towering Chuck Billy take over as frontman. The band became known as 'Testament' 3 years later, while recording their debut album in Ithaca, New York.
"The Legacy" was a brutal intro in 1987, putting Testament at the forefront of the flourishing thrash metal scene. Following "Live At Eindhoven", an EP recorded at Holland's Dynamo Festival, "The New Order" in 1988 was well received producing one of the band's most memorable classics "Disciples Of The Watch". Next came the highly successful "Practice What You Preach" in 1989, then the release of "Souls Of Black" in 1990, coinciding with the European 'Clash Of The Titans' tour with Slayer, Megadeth and Suicidal Tendencies.
After "The Ritual" in 1992, Skolnick, who was losing interest in pure metal, decided to pursue his interest in jazz and left the band. Clemente also departed. "Return To Apocalyptic City" in 1993 brought Glen Alvelais (guitar, ex- Forbidden) into the fold, and filling in temporarily for Clemente, Paul Bostaph (ex- Forbidden, Slayer). James Murphy (ex- Death, Obituary, Disincarnate, Cancer) soon stepped in for Alvelais on lead duties for "Low" in 1994, as John Tempesta (ex- Exodus) took over on the drums.