The story behind Testament's Reign of Terror

05/03/2020 Articles Share

The story behind Testament’s Reign of Terror


Our story begins in 1985 when a bunch of Bay Area kids formed a thrash metal band called Legacy. For some of you who might not know, Legacy is the precursor of Testament with Steve Zetro Souza (Exodus) on vocals,  Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson on the guitar, Greg Christian on bass and Mike Ronchette on the drums. The band has released only one demo (Demo 1) that features some of the classic Testament songs such as "Burnt Offerings“, "Alone in the Dark“, "Raging Waters“ and the infamous track "Reign of Terror“, surely one of the best Testament songs of all time. And this song alone has some pretty twisted history. Steve Zetro Souza stated that Derrick Ramirez, a cousin of Eric Peterson, wrote some of the early Testament songs such as “Reign of Terror“, "Curse of the Legions of the Death.“ The earliest incarnation of Legacy featured Derreck Ramirez on the guitar and Louie Clemente on the drums but both of them left Legacy at a certain point. Derreck Ramirez actually co-wrote a whole bunch of Testament songs such as:  "C.O.T.L.D“., "Raging Waters“, "Reign of Terror“, "Dog Faced Gods“, "True Believer“, "Demonic Refusal“, "The Burning Times“, "Jun-Jun“, "Nostrovia“His contibution to Testament is highly overlooked. However, Derreck Ramirez didn’t play on Legacy’s 1985 Demo 1.


The second track of  Legacy’s demo is the song this article is all about "Reign of Terror“. And by the gods, that is like THE MOST BRUTAL thrash metal track in 1985! PERIOD! That arpeggio that starts the whole carnage, followed by some drum pounding.....not to mention how evil Steve Zetro Souza’s vocals sound on this demo!

Fast forward to 1987 and the song „Reign of Terror“ was once again recorded ,this time by Testament  with Chuck Billy on vocals during the The Legacy  period but it actually didn’t make it on the record. And once again, "Reign of Terror“ didn’t appear on the band’s 2nd album, The New Order but instead made it on the B-Side of Trial by Fire EP. Chuck Billy attributes the raw power of his vocals to the fact that he recorded the song while being drunk  after one of Paul Baloff’s house parties. The same version of this song appeared on Testament’s 1993 Return to the Apocalyptic City which is actually the same version of the song like the one on Trial by Fire EP.  Louie Clemente’s double bass brings brutality to a whole new level in this version! "

Reign of Terror“ got re-recorded once again at the 2001 First Strike Still Deadly, an album featuring re-recorded classic Testament tunes. This time with Steve Souza on vocals! So basically, there are 3 versions of this song which can be found on Legacy’s 1985 Demo1, Testament’s 1988 Trial By Fire EP (and Return to Apocalytic City) and on Testament’s 2001  First Strike Still Deadly album. So, what is the best version of this Testament classic? Let us know in the comments! We’d say the 2001 version with Steve Zetro Souza. I mean, the production & the sheer brutality of Steve Souza’s vocals is unmatched! Steve DiGIorgio brought some killer bass lines to this track and John Tempesta’s drumming is superb as always! This BEYOND BRUTAL! And when you thought like, „That’s it“, Alex Skolnick delivers some damn memorable leads!

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