Former SLAYER/SYSTEMATIC drummer Paul Bostaph has officially joined TESTAMENT, informed sources have told BLABBERMOUTH.NET.
The band, whose most recent drummer, Jon Allen (SADUS), reportedly left the group over an "extremely fragile and urgent family situation" involving the health of his 11-year-old daughter, are currently rehearsing with Bostaph for their upcoming live shows in March, including scheduled appearances at Florida's Sun N' Steel Festival (March 6-7) and New Jersey's March Metal Meltdown VI (March 12-13).
TESTAMENT are continuing work on the material for the follow-up to 1999's "The Gathering" and are reportedly planning on entering the studio in April/May to begin recording the album for a late 2004 release through Spitfire Records. The band will likely premier two brand-new songs during their festival appearances next month, the sources have told BLABBERMOUTH.NET.
Bostaph is no stranger to the TESTAMENT camp, having played several live dates with the group in 1992 and appeared on the band's 1993 live EP, "Return To The Apocalyptic City" (Megaforce/Atlantic). He subsequently spent nearly a decade in SLAYER, with whom he recorded four full-length albums (1994's "Divine Intervention", 1996's "Undisputed Attitude", 1998's "Diabolus In Musica" and 2001's "God Hates Us All") before leaving the group (for the second and final time) in December 2001.
An official press release issued by the SLAYER camp had listed a chronic elbow injury as the reason for Bostaph's departure — an account later disputed by Bostaph, who almost immediately went on to join San Francisco Bay Area metallers SYSTEMATIC.
"I didn't leave SLAYER because of an arm problem, and I certainly didn't leave SLAYER to join SYSTEMATIC," Paul told the San Francisco-based Internet music magazine Perfect Pitch Online last year. "I was ready to go. It was nothing personal towards anybody in the band, it was just my time to leave. Musically, I wanted to do something else. And in terms of the problem I had with my arm, I re-aggravated an old softball injury by lifting up a laptop at the airport. That happened right at the beginning of the tour, and it never had time to heal. But even at that point, I was considering moving on from the band.
"SLAYER's a great band, and I had a lot of fun playing with them, but I have to feel like I'm taking chances musically.
"The first time I left SLAYER, I did [a project called] THE TRUTH ABOUT SEAFOOD. Sure, it never got signed, but I enjoyed it a lot.
"SLAYER took my drumming to a new level, but there are also other levels of drumming that I haven't even touched yet. I want to become a more eclectic drummer."
Bostaph officially left SYSTEMATIC last October, with the rest of the band attributing his departure in part to Paul's slower-than-anticipated progress following a knee surgery last fall. He has since been replaced in that band by his predecessor, Shaun Bannon.