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'Metal Allegiance'
(Nuclear Blast)
Out now

Johnny Main
johnny main

metal allegiance

Metal Allegiance came from an initial idea by bass player Mark Menghi back in 2011. The premise was pretty straightforward – get together onstage and play Rock and Metal classics with whoever of his famous friends wants to be in the band at that specific moment.

The line up of the band is fluid – as those members become free in their own bands, they’d join the Metal Allegiance ranks and when their full-time band commitments come round, they can drop off back to their “day job” once again.

This debut album from the collective is taking things one step further by recording new brand material and seeing where it goes. The band on the album is made up of pretty much three core members – Testament’s Alex Skolnick on guitar, bass player David Ellefson from Megadeth and journeyman drummer, Mike Portnoy – but when you add in members of Exodus, Sepultura, Machine Head, Anthrax, Death Angel and Mastodon, you know this is never going to be an album of ballads but will be a full on assault on the senses.

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‘Gift Of Pain’ was one of the first tracks released from the album, and it’s a good start with the heavy guitar riff and great vocal performance from Randy Blythe. Obviously people are going to compare it to a Lamb of God track because of Blythe’s vocals but to me it’s a solid enough track in isolation. Portnoy’s solid sounding drums are great here and if you throw a catchy chorus into the mix, it all adds up to a memorable track all in all.

Portnoy counts into ‘Can't Kill The Devil’ before the slow and heavy guitar riff comes in. It may start off slow, but it doesn’t take long for the tempo to ramp up. Portnoy is an exceedingly talented drummer, let’s be honest here, and his use of his double bass drum kit is just fantastic in this song.

On the other hand, you have the guitar riff from Skolnick which is classic Thrash Metal - sharp consistent and heavy. The vocals are provided by Testament’s Chuck Billy and the chorus catches you after only a couple of listens oh, and there’s a blistering guitar solo courtesy of Phil Demmel and Andreas Kisser. I defy anyone who says they don't like this one – for me, it’s a top track.

‘Scars’ has Ellefson’s bass guitar intro before another classic guitar riff takes over. Overall, it’s another solid sounding and it's the turn of Death Angel front man Mark Osegueda to step up to the microphone with Cristina Scabbia dueting with him.

The two vocals match so well here it's a great mix and although the track may be a shade lighter than some of the others, it’s still a worthy addition to the album.

‘Let Darkness Fall’ has the drums kicking off in fine fashion before the crystal clear but heavy guitar riff blasts out. Portnoy’s double bass drum adds a different feel and when the softer vocals come in the track has settled down. It also has one of my favourite vocal performances of the album, by Mastodon’s Troy Sanders.

The softer mid-section is good with bass and electric guitars to the fore before an great but unexpected acoustic guitar performance before the pace builds up again. My favourite song of all on the album? It could well be.

Of course, it’s not all fast Thrash numbers that are here, as there are a couple of slower paced numbers included too. ‘Dying Song’ is a suitably mournful tune with the simple and measured central guitar track from Skolnick, and equally basic drums from Portnoy.

The vocals from Down front man Phil Anselmo are sincere though the track still retains a heavy element to it – especially during the chorus when the guitar riff is pushed to the fore as Anselmo gives a great performance. I can’t help but think this is a track heavily influenced by Black Sabbath, but it’s certainly a firm favourite of mine.

metal allegiance

Likewise, ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ has another slow guitar intro from Skolnick. Even when the drums come in it retains the slower pace allowing the soaring guitar to take its time. It has a haunting quality to it and this is exacerbated by the performance of Doug Pinnick and Jamey Jasta who handle vocals duties.

Tucked in towards the end of the album is the sole instrumental tack, ‘Triangulum’, which is split into three different movements – Creation, Evolution and Destruction. The different movements allow a multitude of players to take their place in the spotlight from Demmel, Matt Heafy and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal to Anthrax skins man Charlie Benante and the piece as a whole has a good pace and never feels rushed.

The guitar solos go from slow and soaring to much more intricate affairs while Portnoy keeps the beat solid at the back. An excellent piece all in all.

There is a standard edition CD of "Metal Allegiance" features nine original songs and there’s a deluxe digipak edition available too that features an exclusive track in the form of an all-star tribute to Ronnie James Dio with a cover of his classic ‘We Rock’.

There is also a DVD containing a 45-minute behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the album, so if you’re going to buy this album, it’s well worth hunting out the digipak edition if you get the chance.

You can see the official video for ‘Gift Of Pain’ here:

You can see Metal Allegiance live here:
Saturday 23rd January - Soundwave Festival 2016, Brisbane
Sunday 24th January - Soundwave Festival 2016, Sydney
Tuesday 26th January - Soundwave Festival 2016, Melbourne

‘Metal Allegiance’ Track List:
Gift Of Pain
Let Darkness Fall
Can't Kill The Devil
Dying Song
Destination: Nowhere
Wait Until Tomorrow
Triangulum I. Creation II. Evolution III. Destruction
Pledge Of Allegiance
We Rock (Dio cover – available on the Deluxe Edition only)

The Metal Allegiance band includes:
Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) – Vocals
Troy Sanders (Mastodon) – Vocals
Chuck Billy (Testament) – Vocals
Mark Osegueda (Death Angel) – Vocals
Chris Jericho (Fozzy) – Vocals
Tim "Ripper" Owens (Ex-Judas Priest/ex-Iced Earth) – Vocals
Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) – Vocals
Steve "Zetro" Souza (Exodus) – Vocals
Philip H. Anselmo (ex-Pantera/Down) – Vocals
Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) – Vocals
Matthew K. Heafy (Trivium) – Vocals/Guitar
Doug Pinnick (Kings X) – Vocals
Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) – Vocals
Alex Skolnick (Testament) – Guitars
Phil Demmel (Machine Head) – Guitars
Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) – Guitars
Misha Mansoor (Periphery) – Guitars
Ben Weinman (The Dillinger Escape Plan) – Guitars
Charlie Benante (Anthrax) – Guitars
Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns N’ Roses) – Guitars
Gary Holt (Exodus) – Guitars
David Ellefson (Megadeth) – Bass Guitar
Rex Brown (Kill Devil Hill) – Bass Guitar
Mark Menghi – Bass Guitar
Mike Portnoy – Drums/Percussion/Additional Vocals

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