Testament began their band in 1983 in Berkley California with Eric Peterson, Alex Skolnick, Greg Chastain, and Steve Sousa. Sousa would later be the front man for another thrash band, Exodus, and Chuck Billy would take his place. In 1986 they were signed to Atlantic Records and in 1987, their debut album, The Legacy was released and became a top 50 album. In fact Testament would go on to have a number of records in the top 50. This was usual for a thrash band to achieve such a feat. They became successful with hits such as Souls to Black, New Order, and Blessed by A Burden. To date the band has 9 albums, 4 live albums, six compilation albums, and six singles.
In 2000 the band faced a major crisis when lead singer, Chuck Billy, was diagnosed with gem cell seminoma. This is a rare form of testicular cancer but it affected his heart and lungs. After undergoing chemotherapy he was given a clean bill of health and returned to touring with his band. Chuck is a member of the Pomo Native American tribe and is very proud of his heritage dedicating his songs Trail off Tears and Allegiance to his fellow Native Americans. In 2010 he was included in an exhibit at the Smithsonian museum of the Native American which honored Native American entertainers. He was recently honored by a Hard Rock Café for his work with Native American tribes. Today most of the band remains in tact with Eric, Alex, Greg, and Chuck still touring together and have including hard working Gene Hooligan on drums.
Now I am a fan of all three bands and I am a huge fan of Testament in general, but Chuck Billy is the reason I was here. I absolutely love the Chuck and have had a major crush on him for decades now. I used to date the lead singer for a band that was touring with Testament, and when Jon was doing sound check or what ever he needed doing, I spent allot of time on the Testament bus hanging out with Chuck. He has always been in my top 5 sexiest rockers. And when I met Nick, one of the first things I noticed about him was he looked an awful lot like Chuck Billy.
Testament always takes the middle place when the band performs and put on a killer show for 45 minutes and I always love when they sing Souls of Black since it is one of my favorite songs. They may be hard core thrash but you can always understand what Chuck is singing. They put on a killer show and the fans loved them and seem to respond to them more than the other two bands. Despite Chuck’s illness he still is great in concert and the rest of the band still run and thrash just like when I saw them more than two decades ago. Time hasn’t slowed them down one bit. The band, especially Chuck, always interacts with their fans from the stage. I know at both shows where I saw them I got oodles of attention from Chuck and plenty of guitar picks from Chuck (even though Chuck is the lead singer, he does have his own guitar pics). I know the guys around me liked it because they were bouncing off me and they were getting pictures. I ended up with them down my shirt, in my shoes, and even my purse!
Chuck Billy and Greg Chastain are especially known to come out and talk to their fans. Chuck may not always if he isn’t feeling well but you can pretty much count of Greg hanging around the bus or in the club and talking. When I seen them in Charlotte back in the fall Chuck came out to talk with fans much to my delight though I am sure the people I moved out of my way didn’t appreciate my Chuck enthusiasm. But I love my Chuck and got a bit carried away when I seen him. So this time I had taken one of my favorite pictures I had taken when they played in Charlotte and had it blown up. Even though he wasn’t feeling well that night, he sent a roadie out and got our pictures and signed them for us with his apologies for not feeling well and not coming out. It was very cold that night and my feet were hating me, so Nick went and retrieved our Durango from the parking lot and left me by the band busses where it was warm. As I was waiting for him I hear knocking on the window and it was Chuck waving at me. So even though I hated not getting to talk to Chuck this time, I was just appreciative that he sent someone out to get out picture and signed it for me. One of the many reasons why I am a huge fan.
Death Angel began their head banging career back in 1981 in Concord CA. The majority of the thrash bands at the time were from the San Francisco Bay area of California at the time. In 1985 they release their first album, Ultra Violence. Their songs include the song Ultra Violence, Thicker than Blood, and Voracious Soul. The band played from 1981 until 1991 and members at the time went their own way after feeling the record companies were trying to turn them into more glams bands. In 2001 they reunited for the Thrash of Titians concert which was a benefit for Testament’s Chuck Billy to help with his medical expenses from his cancer. The band has continued to play ever since then. Today the band consists of Mark Osegueda, Rob Cavestasy, Ted Agulliar, Will Carroll, and Damien Sisson. The band is still known for having most of their band members be of Filipino descent.
Just like the other bands, Death Angel still manages to give their audience their moneys worth. They played for 45 minutes and the crowd loved these guys. Mark who is know 45, still trashes and smashes along since his younger band mates and his waist length dred locks are all the place. Again these guys like interacting with their fans and seemed to like this venue better than when I saw them at the Filmore since there is no barrier at the Orange Peel and Mark got right down with the audience when he had fans singing along.
Mark is generally always out in the audience after their song and more than willing to talk to fans. Nick got to meet him in Charlotte. After Testament played, I knew I would loose my spot if I had to go to the bathroom but couldn’t wait any more. When I came out of the ladies room and we headed towards the back of the club, I saw Mark talking to do fans. Now I absolutely love my fiancé, but I still get giddy when I get to meet a band member. And when they are gorgeous like Mark, I get 10 kinds of giddy. Mark gladly posed for a photograph and then Nick and I went to watch Anthrax. Much to our surprise Mark followed us and we ended up talking to him for about 45 minutes. He was so sweet and even good naturedly made fun of himself over the Charlotte show where he came out and said "Glad to see you Raleigh" and Joey said "hello Myrtle Beach". He is very sincere about hanging out with his fans and never makes you feel like you your bothering him. Later one when we sent to the other side of the club we went to the bar to get drinks and there was the yummy guitar player Damien Sisson. He also gladly posed for pictures and talked to fans.
If you get a chance to see these guys when they are in your town, make sure you go see them. Despite the fact these guys are now middle aged; they still put on a great show for fans. And the guys are really some of the nicest guys and love to interact with their fans. And despite the fact that glam bands were always known for their looks, these guys are pretty hot. I was a bit upset to find out to find that another one of my favorite bands, Overkill, was asked to be part of this tour, but scheduling conflicts kept them from touring. For a great night out and to see 3 of the best thrash bands around, go see these guys if you can.
All three of these bands can be found on both Facebook and Twitter.