TESTAMENT’s CHUCK BILLY Describes Upcoming Album As “Very Aggressive” And “With More Octane To It”

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In a recent interview with Nikki Blakk on 107.7 The Bone, Testament‘s frontman Chuck Billy provided an insightful update on the band’s forthcoming album, currently in the throes of recording. Discussing their progress, Billy highlighted the band’s intensive studio sessions spanning several months, aiming to wrap up before their European tour commences in July.

“We’ve been here in the recording studio for — I don’t know — a couple of months now, and we’re getting ready to leave for Europe in July. So we’ve gotta get everything done in June. So it’s our goal to finish everything this month,” Billy disclosed (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), emphasizing the urgency to finalize the album.

Anticipating a late-year release for a potential single, he expressed cautious optimism, noting logistical challenges yet affirming a meticulous approach to ensure quality: “We hope to have a single maybe, just towards the end of the year. Give whomever we select to mix the album one song, ‘Let’s see how you do, see if we’re happy,’ before we do the whole record maybe. It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s still a little more convenient for us this time.”

The musical direction of the new material promises to be unapologetically aggressive, bolstered by the dynamic contributions of new drummer Chris Dovas. Billy described the sound as “current,” reflecting modern influences while maintaining Testament‘s trademark intensity.

“The record is very aggressive. With this one, we have a new drummer, Chris Dovas, who’s really putting a fire under Eric Peterson, (Testament guitarist and main songwriter) and really, really got some really heavy, fast — I don’t know if it’s the word ‘modern’, maybe. I don’t know, but… ‘Current’, how about that? Current-sounding. So, Chris is adding to that. I never know what the record is gonna be until we mix it, ’cause they’re all just individual songs, and I go, ‘Okay, they’re great.’ But until we mix it and listen to it as an album, that’s when we realize, ‘Wow, this came out better than I thought. Wow, this is really good.’ But this one, I’m excited going in before the mix, because I just know each song is one step up from the last record, as far as aggression, maybe.”

Addressing thematic elements, Billy hinted at diverse inspirations ranging from societal issues to technological advancements, eschewing fantastical themes for a grounded, relatable narrative: “It’s not as focused on, like, the aliens, creating mankind and that kind of stuff, but there is some of that. There’s a lot. Each song definitely has its own identity lyrically. And again, we’re writing stuff that is real, that happens with the environment; we’re singing about that again. A.I., we’re singing stuff about that. That’s a big thing. So, there’s always an inspiration for songs. I think it’s a little easier.”

“There’s so much going on in our world to write about now. It’s a crazy world today, so there’s a lot of stuff to talk about. And I like singing about what’s real and what’s going on instead of some fantasy lyrics, because, for me, I think when I sing ’em, I have more conviction, I believe in ’em a little more. And maybe it’s easier for me to remember the lyrics live,” Billy added, underscoring the band’s commitment to authenticity, preferring themes rooted in reality to enhance lyrical conviction and audience connection.

Reflecting on the collaborative songwriting process, Billy credited Dovas for injecting fresh energy into Eric Peterson‘s foundational riffs, reshaping compositions for heightened impact. This meticulous approach, he believes, sets the stage for a standout album characterized by its depth and evolution.

Chris has been coming out since probably December, maybe a little before that, and going to Eric‘s house; he’s got an electric drum set there. So they’ve been working, writing, putting all this stuff together. And at the beginning of May, once Eric started tracking, we decided that, let’s bring Alex Skolnick (Testament lead guitarist) and everybody in’ except for Steve DiGiorgio (Testament bassist), ’cause he’s on tour, let’s bring Alex and everybody here to the studio and let’s just go through all the music, all the songs and make sure we’re all happy with the arrangements. And every song got changed as well. Once Alex got here, we all started putting our heads together till we were all happy with the arrangements. And then he left and we said, ‘Okay, Chris, now here’s the new stuff. Let’s do it and track it.’ And he knocked it out last month, and now it’s the rest of us that are tracking our parts. So we’ve been a little more thoughtful on this record. We have the time to do it. So I think it’s gonna be a killer record.”

“A lot of it is Eric‘s riffs, but they’re put in the proper places or cut out if we don’t need it. And it’s good for me because I didn’t really get to sit with Eric. I just let them guys jam and just come up with as much as you can and we’ll sort it out later, which that’s what they did. But once Chris came out, then we knew, okay, it has to change or we’re gonna just have the same record, and maybe we wouldn’t be happy when it was all done. And also Eric‘s actually been going to New York — he actually went to work with Alex out there, which he hasn’t done in the past. And I think having Chris be available because like Gene (Hoglan, former Testament drummer) or whoever we worked with didn’t have the time to come up as much as Chris has. Chris has spent a lot of time here, which has been good and really pushing Eric to make music. And we’re at a point now to where Eric‘s, like, ‘You know what? This has been fun. I think I’m just going to keep bringing Chris out. Let’s just keep writing songs. Even after this record’s done, let’s just keep making songs,’ which I think is great because that means we can get a jump on the next record. ‘Cause not spring chickens. It’s, like, let’s get it done now while we can.”

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