Tales from a Metalhead: Chapter 24: Falling Fast

Tales from a Metalhead logo

This chapter is part of a book called Tales from a Metalhead written by Metal Express Radio’s President Stig G. Nordahl. The chapters will be posted one at the time and you can find them all here.

I have never been very interested in soccer. Why did that lack of interest make me miss a strip show? More about that, a tea and slippers party with Chuck Billy, and Testament nagging me at my sister’s wedding later in this chapter.

I was a late bloomer when it comes to Thrash Metal. It is still not my favorite subgenre, but there are some Thrash Metal bands I hold in very high esteem. I never listened much to Testament before I started receiving promo albums. My first album was the band’s third release, Practice What You Preach, from 1989. It’s definitely a good album. I remember playing the title track and “Envy Life” on my radio show. However, it was the next album, Souls of Black, that gave me the first great Testament kick, even though the album suffers from poor production. I learned later on that it was written, recorded and produced in a rush. The old story about record companies running tight time schedules repeated itself. There are some kick ass tracks on it like the title track, “Face in the Sky” and “Falling Fast”. The guttural scream after the chorus on the latter track is ultra cool.

The first time I saw the band live was in 1992 when they toured with Iron Maiden to promote their new record The Ritual. The Ritual is an album that took the band in a more commercial direction. It’s still a good one though and I listened to it quite often back then. Vocalist Chuck Billy told me later that he doesn’t like the album much because it was recorded at a time the band was falling apart and it didn’t feel like a band effort. So they don’t play much from the album live. Seeing Testament live for the first time was unfortunately far from overwhelming. I am sure the band played excellent, but the poor sound in the venue ruined their performance, at least from where I was standing.

The first Testament related interview I did was with James Murphy in 1999. He played with Testament on the Low which was released in 1994. As you can hear in the interview with Billy from 2003 (scroll down) he thinks that is the best album Testament had released that far. I was talking to Murphy mainly because he was about the release his 2nd solo album Feeding the Machine. He also revealed that he was back with Testament and that they were recording a new album. That turned out to be The Gathering. 

Guess who is the Thrash Metal vocalist from the Bay Area…

After The Gathering the band didn’t release any new material for almost 10 years. However, in 2003 a show was announced out of the blue at a small Rock bar in Oslo named Rock In. I knew Billy had been through cancer so I thought it would be cool to do an interview to see how he was doing and the status of the band. The band didn’t have a record deal at the time so it was hard to pre-arrange an interview. I went to Rock In in the afternoon to look for Billy. The soundcheck was over so he had gone back to his hotel room. I got a hold of the tour manager and asked if he could set up an interview. He called Billy (or maybe his wife) to see if he wanted to do the interview. Obviously they were a bit skeptical on the other end of the line and asked the tour manager about his impression of me. Luckily he answered “No, he is cool”. So I went to the hotel close by and knocked on the hotel room door. Billy’s wife (I presume) opened the door and took me to him. He was enjoying life in his slippers while sipping a cup of tea. We had a really nice talk about his illness and Testament.

Picture of Testament
Chuck Billy keeping it cool before the show in 2003

After the interview I had some hours to kill before showtime. I was going to attend the show with a buddy of mine, who is a big soccer fan. I am not. I find soccer extremely boring. I will watch the Norwegian national team play important matches every now and then, but I see no reason to follow English teams, which a lot of Norwegians do. My buddy was very eager to see a soccer match (or was it two?) at a pub before the show. I had nothing better to do so I came along. Boring game in a pub. What to do? Drink beer of course!

By the time we headed to the venue for the show we were both pretty shitfaced. I had never seen that venue so packed. We found space on (!) the bar counter, the only place one could barely see the stage from far back in the room. While Testament played the hell out of the place we continued to pour down beers. It is very convenient to actually sit on top of the bar counter when you want another beer in a crowded place. After the show we both agreed that it had been a loud and blistering performance by the band. When reading a review from the show a few days later it was mentioned that a highlight had been the celebration of one of the members’ birthday by having a stripper on stage during one of the tracks. We had totally missed or forgotten about that part! I’ve always had a few beers during shows, but not this much. I missed the striptease thanks to that stupid soccer game!

Chuck Billy at Sweden Rock

I was thrilled to see Testament again at Sweden Rock Festival in 2004. This time I was in far better shape to witness any spontaneous stripping. I brought along some friends that weren’t familiar with Testament at all. Testament delivered the goods as always. At the end of the show people from the audience started stage diving. One of my friends was so blown away by the performance that he decided he needed to stage dive (probably for the first time in his life). We were standing pretty far from the stage, so he started to work his way through the crowd. It was hard work to say the least! When he finally reached the first row, preparing to jump over the fence and onto the stage, Chuck Billy said: “Thank you so much Sweden, see you next time!” So much effort for nothing. We laughed our asses off!

In 2008, the band released the first album with fresh material in almost ten years, The Damnation of Formation. Just check out the riff on “The Persecuted Won’t Forget”. Oha! It’s a really strong release that went straight into my Top 10 list that year. Around the time it was released I was attending my sister’s wedding. During the ceremony I got a call from an American phone number, but the timing for a conversation was terrible. By the time the ceremony was over I had about 3 more calls from the same number. There was also a voice message that I checked out later: “Hi, this is Eric Peterson from Testament. I am calling for the interview about our new album. Please call me back.” I would have loved to do an interview about the album, but I hadn’t scheduled any interview and I would definitely not have scheduled it during my sister’s wedding. I have no idea how I ended up on that interview list. The same thing actually happened to me another time. Disgraced guitarist Karl Logan from Manowar called me while I was out jogging. Not an ideal time for an interview.

The last time I saw Testament live was in 2018 supporting the album Brotherhood of the Snake. They brought along a cool stage production crowned with Annihilator as support. A killer show!

Testament keep belting out new strong albums. This year’s (2020) Titans of Creation is the latest addition to their back catalogue. If you haven’t already, check it out for the best in Thrash Metal.

The Big Four should definitely have been extended to The Big Five!

It costs a lot to keep Metal Express Radio running. Let’s face it, we’re a grassroots web radio and we do this because we love Metal. Any contributions that helps keeping us afloat are highly welcomed. We gladly accept donations on our donate page.


  • Stig G. Nordahl

    Stig is the founder and the president of Metal Express Radio, based out of Oslo, Norway. He has been around doing Metal radio since the mid-eighties. In fact, running Metal Express Radio takes almost all of his time. Is it worth it...? "Most times, yes," Stig says. "My philosophy is to try to give all Metal releases a fair chance to get promoted in one way or another. As you can imagine, it can be an arduous task to listen through about 20 albums every week! Still, I know we have the best METAL dedicated radio on this planet, and that is a reward in and of itself. I hope one day the whole Metal community can and will make listening to Metal Express Radio part of their daily rituals! Yeah, right..."

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