Metal Allegiance – “Metal Allegiance” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Awesome – this is like a gathering of extreme metal’s most famous more commonly found backstage at a festival or an awards ceremony – except this one is on record! Not for the publicity as everyone here is a name in their own right, not for the charity but equally not for the money, Metal Allegiance was born out of the simple love of playing and performing metal music freely. Stemming from an initial idea in 2011 by founder and metal insider Mark Menghi, who has worked with Roger Waters, Tony Iommi and Joe Satriani (among a few), it didn’t take long before Megadeth’s David Ellefson, Testament’s Alex Skolnick and drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theatre) soon got involved to create an album that was fresh and free of expectations, boundaries and certainly any of the bands they are more commonly associated with! Interestingly there isn’t a Metal Allegiance sound but the magical thing is that each player, along with their breathtaking array of guests from vocalists Phil Anselmo and Chuck Billy to guitarists Andreas Kisser and Gary Holt are all easily recognizable from their trademark sounds and moreover, it’s amazing how it all comes together on the nine driving thrash / extreme metal tracks here! From the dark ballad of the ‘Dying Song’ with Anselmo’s deep drawl adding the brooding fervor into its crushing heaviness until Skolnick’s wild funky guitar adds some uplift at the last minute, to ‘Scars’ with Death Angel’s Mark Osegueda & Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia providing a superb fire n ice vocal duet to this melodic death metal track that has Ellefson’s crunching bass adding heaps of volume as Skolnick this time provides some epic soloing to match. As each track played it became pretty evident that Metal Allegiance went beyond a mere jam and even the most unlikely combination of Kings X’s Doug Pinnick with his cool, black dude soul vocals mixed with Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta shout outs worked to splendid effect on ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’, proving the superior composing and song arrangement skill of the veteran talent here. Not ignoring the technical / prog aspect, Metal Allegiance enlisted the additional assistance of Machine Head’s Phil Demmel, along with The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Ben Weinman and Periphery’s Misha Mansoor to do true justice to the fantastic 7 minute epic ‘Triangulum I-III’ – trust me, if you love intricate guitar work, then this one’s definitely for you! With Trivium’s Matthew K. Heafy, Randall Blythe, Charlie Benante, Chris Jericho, Tim “Ripper” Owens and Alissa White-Gluz completing the circle of talent on this round, it won’t take long for you to pledge allegiance to this stellar gathering too!