TESTAMENT — The Legacy

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TESTAMENT - The Legacy cover
4.23 | 60 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1987

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Over the Wall (4:06)
2. The Haunting (4:16)
3. Burnt Offerings (5:06)
4. Raging Waters (4:32)
5. C.O.T.L.O.D. (2:31)
6. First Strike Is Deadly (3:43)
7. Do or Die (4:39)
8. Alone in the Dark (4:04)
9. Apocalyptic City (5:50)

Total Time: 38:52


- Chuck Billy / Vocals
- Alex Skolnick / Lead guitar
- Eric Peterson / Rhythm guitar
- Greg Christian / Bass
- Louie Clemente / Drums

About this release

Release date: July 7th, 1987
Label: Atlantic / Megaforce Records

Re-issued on Atlantic : February 17th, 1995

Thanks to Stooge, UMUR, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Testament's The New Order left me cold because it felt like a slickly produced but ultimately slightly vacuous Metallica rip-off. Imagine my delight, then, to discover in The Legacy a rough and ready thrash album with a substantially more distinctive character. It's evident from the sound that the band couldn't get a top-flight studio and a big budget for this one, but they didn't need one - not when they had a slate of songs this strong from their days as The Legacy to assault the listener with. It's a shame that what (to me at least) was their sophomore slump put me off exploring this album for as long as it did, because this is great.
Vim Fuego
Testament has always been a bit hit-and-miss. During their later career, from the late 1990s and beyond, the band found a consistency not present when thrash was in the ascendancy. ‘The New Order’ was a weak album, which was oddly always heaped with praise. This may well be a hangover from the response to the band’s debut album, the stunning ‘The Legacy’. Testament had been around for a good few years before the release of ‘The Legacy’, in fact changing their name from Legacy to Testament. The years in the wilderness allowed the band to sharpen and perfect the songs on this album.

A fair whack of the lyrics on ‘The Legacy’ had been written by original vocalist Steve Souza, replaced by Chuck Billy before the album was recorded. Billy’s vocals are more melodic than Souza’s, meshing strongly with the Peterson/Skolnick guitar team. The lyrics don’t stand up to close examination, “Raging Waters” being a song about sailing into Hell for example, but this is old school thrash, a genre not particularly noted for its lyrical genius anyway. An escaping prisoner, in “Over The Wall”, a paratrooper preparing to jump in “Do Or Die”, and Satanic hordes in pretty much the rest of the album round out the subject matter up for discussion. It’s love it or hate it type stuff.

Rate the lyrics how you like, because the main reason thrash fans loved Testament was the guitars, and let’s face it, guitars are what make metal metal. The guitar combination of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick was one of the most creative and productive in the Bay Area. Pick any song here and you’ll find a handful of Peterson’s massive riffs and Skolnick’s innovative solos. The riff accompanying the chorus to “Alone In The Dark” is as melodic as Chuck Billy’s vocals, but it is still a hard edged song. “Do Or Die” has some very catchy leads following the chorus. There are many other special metal moments other than these too.

1987 might seem like a long time ago now, but this album has an almost timeless quality. The passage of time has hardly dulled the edge of these songs. A thrash classic in every sense.
Testament’s 1987 debut album The Legacy is one of the most respected and highly regarded records to emerge from the Thrash Metal movement.

The album contains many of the band’s most enduring and popular songs which are still present in the band’s live repertoire to this day, proof if it was needed of the album’s relevance and staying power. The Legacy is not a flavour of the week release that you will play a few times and then discard forever, but rather an album which you will return to time and again.

Musically; Testament were never as direct and ferocious as on The Legacy, delivering harder, darker and more energetic songs than on their subsequent albums and what the album lacks in variety it makes up for in intensity. Don’t let that statement confuse you however, Testament still manage to pack in a surprisingly diverse collection of musically interesting songs on this album.

The band are proficient in all areas, the guitars and bass are excellent, the vocals and drumming are superb and the production is of a surprisingly high quality for a Thrash band’s debut album.

The album contains the memorable ‘Raging Waters,’ ‘The Haunting,’ and ‘Over The Wall,’ all of which are classic songs. The highlight of the album is the catchy and interesting album closer ‘Apocalyptic City,’ which covers a lot of ground in its five minute run time.

To summarise, The Legacy is a very strong album that deserves its strong reputation. If you have any interest in the band whatsoever, or even just Thrash in general, then this is something you’ll want to be listening to.
Until today, I just don't understand how in the world that Testament isn't a part of The Big Four since basically this band is far superior compared to Anthrax or Slayer. Throughout their career, Testament is one of the most consistent band that I personally think have released great albums one after another, and "The Legacy" is the first glorious step they've taken before evolving to reach the legendary status of the scene.

Though it was released in 1987, the chrysalis of Testament was started to grow four-five years earlier, hence the raw sound inside is often comparable to what Metallica did with "Ride The Lightning" in 1984 or Slayer's "Show No Mercy" in 1983. The highlight of "The Legacy" is obviously the wicked shouter, Chuck Billy, and the multi-talented shred master, Alex Skolnick, but anything from track number one to the last is what defines classic thrash, constructed with highly enjoyable Bay Area typical riffage, furious rhythm with blasting drums, and of course, some demonic screams that shot right out of hell.

"Over The Wall", one of their most popular songs, featured an intensified riffs led by Billy's insane scream, Skolnick's lethal solo sounded angry and aggressive. "Burnt Offerings" maintained the speed, Billy's vocal was drowned in a deep echo effect, sometimes this thing, eventually became the weakness of old thrash album, along with the thin production that deserved an enhanced mix on a remastered version, however the brutally brilliant short solos are effective and amazing to keep your eyes and ears open. "Raing Waters", "First Strike Is Deadly", "Do or Die", and "Alone In The Dark" are another highlights that unconsciously provoked my head to move and my toes to tap.

"The Legacy" is a masterpiece, that even the band themselves struggling to match in their newer releases, definitely a real legacy of the band when their career is over, a historical piece to remember, and yes, this one is better than "Reign In Blood" or "Among The Living".
The Legacy is the debut full-length studio album by American thrash metal act Testament. The album was released in July 1987 by Atlantic Records. The Legacy is one of those albums that I have a lot of nostalgic feelings about. I was in my early teens when a friend of mine made a cassette tape copy of the album for me and I treasured that cassette copy for years. I had that tape with me on a couple of car holidays through Europe with my parents and I remember listening to The Legacy on my walkman driving through Germany on the Autobahn, lying on the beach on the French Riviera and while looking over the harbour in Monaco. It´s just one of those very special albums that envoke the feeling of sweet nostalgia in me.

The music on The Legacy is thrash metal with Chuck Billy´s distinct sounding vocals in front. He is actually a very diverse vocalist who masters both high pitched screams, raw thrash styled singing and even deep growls ( take a listen to C.O.T.L.O.D. (Curse of the Legions of Death) for evidence of the growls). He even tries to sing in a more melodic vein a couple of times but his skills are limited when it comes to that style of singing. The songs are mostly up-tempo and energetic with powerful fast riffs and a pounding rythm section. I was never much of a fan of Louie Clemente drums style though. He is a one trick pony and doesn´t vary his playing enough for my taste. Testament´s triumph card is lead guitarist Alex Skolnick though. I promise you it´s seldom you´ll hear such a talented guitarist in a thrash metal act. His solos are simply breathtaking. He´s got that neo-classical touch to his playing that just sounds fantastic in the context. He somewhat reminds me of guitarists like Andy LaRocque ( King Diamond, Death, Gutrix, Illwill, E.F. Band, X-World/5) and the late Criss Oliva ( Savatage). The songs are all of good quality and some are even excellent. Over the Wall ( which also spawned a video), Burnt Offerings and Apocalyptic City are good examples of how great the album can sound.

As mentioned above it´s always a nostalgic experience for me to listen to The Legacy, but if I try to judge the album without the nostalgic feelings, I actually find it sounding a bit dated. The production isn´t the best, Chuck Billy´s vocals are too monotone even with his varied vocal approach ( which shouldn´t be possible but is) and while the riffing certainly is powerful, the more regular thrash metal riffing isn´t that memorable. You know how you can hum along to a Slayer or a Metallica riff? That´s generally not the case here. Don´t get me wrong here though because there are many great riffs on the album and those solos still make my blood boil but the album just isn´t as great today as it used to be for me. So it´s not a full 4 for me. Rather a 3.5 star rating is warranted.

Members reviews

Take run of the mill 80’s Thrash and then take away pretty much any weaknesses you could find in the genre. That’s really Testament’s debut, which added absolutely nothing new to the realm of Thrash, but did everything just about as well as anyone could have. Crunchy riffs, wild solos, and a precise, speedy rhythm section played some of the tightest standard Thrash put to record. Every single song is top quality.

The most interesting factor about this album is actually Chuck’s vocals, which have surprising versatility especially for a Thrash vocalist. He can yell with the best, but he can also shift his pitch quite a bit, and carry melodies when he has to, and even throws in a couple death growls for good measure. The production is also as good as 80’s metal got, which is especially surprising for a debut. They didn’t invent anything new here, but at step one they had already mastered the craft.

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