Thrash veterans Testament, who were scheduled to open for Megadeth and Slayer on the American Carnage Tour starting Jan. 18, have spoken out about the cancellation of the shows and the health of Slayer frontman Tom Araya. Yesterday it was announced that Araya will undergo back surgery at the end of the month for a condition called cervical radiculopathy -- an injury or compression to a nerve root traveling out from the spine.

"I just hope Tom comes out of this healthy," Testament guitarist Eric Peterson told Noisecreep. "Of course, I'm disappointed not to go out with those bands, but more importantly, I hope everything's successful with Tom, because Slayer just put out a great record and it would be great for them to be able to tour for it. And I would love to tour with them in the future."

Before they were invited on the American Carnage Tour, Testament had planned to spend the winter in their home studio writing the follow-up to 2008's 'The Formation of Damnation.' Once they accepted the tour, they decided to try to write their next album on the road, then finish it at home. Now they're relieved not to have that pressure.

"Writing on the bus was going to be a challenge, and we've never done that before," Peterson said. "I was juggling a lot -- trying to get the set for the tour, designing T-shirts, backdrops. Just preparing for the tour and trying to write at the same time is a lot. Now, I'm pretty excited just to put the writing cap back on. There's misty clouds and gray rain. This, for me, is the perfect time to write."

Originally, Testament were planning to play their 1987 debut, 'The Legacy' in its entirety on the tour, which requires plenty of preparation. But even though the band will probably go out with a whole new set of material the next time they hit the road, Peterson doesn't view 'The Legacy' rehearsals as wasted time. "Playing those old songs again with all those crazy fast picking parts made me think and gave us some new ideas," Peterson said. "I actually came up with a new riff that's got that 'Apocalyptic City' picking harmony stuff in it, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how that plays out on the new songs we're writing."

Booking agents for Slayer and Megadeth have both said they're working on rescheduling the American Carnage dates for this summer, and Peterson said Testament would love to be along for the ride. "It was a great idea. I don't see why we can't revisit it," he said. "We're excited to be a part of it again if we're invited. All the press and the response that the tour got was basically because of Slayer and Megadeth -- and they invited us -- but I think it made it a little cooler having the three of us."

In a statement to the press, Megadeth said the band "is concerned for Araya and wish him a speedy recovery." They added that they will schedule their own U.S. headlining run for March and April.