Metal Allegiance review

Metal Allegiance came into being in 2011 and those involved would like to stress right up front that it is just a bunch of like-minded musicians getting together to have a little fun and play some live music and is absolutely not a supergroup. Maybe that’s how the album manages to avoid all the usual pitfalls and stigmata that surround the average suergroup. Those live shows have become legendary and showcase a revolving door of guest musicians who can come and go as they please, playing covers of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Thin Lizzy, Van Halen and even Pantera, just to name a few. Previous live participants have included Joey Belladonna, Frank Bello and Scott Ian from Anthrax and Kerry King and Dave Lombardo of Slayer, as well as surprise appearances by Geezer Butler, Phil Campbell, Mikkey Dee, Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan. The success of those live events, have led to an album of original material simply called Metal Allegiance for Nuclear Blast Records. The album was produced by Alex Skolnick, Mark Menghi, David Ellefson and Mike Portnoy, who coincidentally wrote all the music and was mixed by Josh Wilbur. Metal Allegiance also contains guest appearances by some of metal’s elite. Artists like Randy Blythe, Gary Holt, Troy Sanders, Rex Brown, Phil Anselmo, Chuck Billy, Phil Demmel, Andreas Kisser, Mark Osegueda, Cristina Scabbia, Matt Heafy, Dug Pinnick, Jamey Jasta, Charlie Benante, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, Chris Jericho, Misha Mansoor, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, Alissa White-Gluz and Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza have all lent their considerable talents to the album. The album starts out strong with “Gift of Pain,” a song with grooves deeper than the Grand Canyon that could have easily been on the new Lamb Of God album. While “Let Darkness Fall” will not doubt draw comparisons to Skolnick’s work in Testament and features a “Master of Puppets” tinged bassline in the stellar breakdown. Once you hear the “Nola” inspired grooves of “Dying Song,” it becomes immediately apparent that no one other than Phil Anselmo could have done the song the justice it deserved. While tracks like “Can’t Kill the Devil” and “Pledge of Allegiance” prove that the heaviest metal on the planet isn’t Gold, Tungsten or even Adamantium, it’s Thrash. With Matt Heafy handling both vocal & guitar duties on “Destination Nowhere,” it should come as no surprise that it plays like a long lost Trivium song and the out of this world duet of Cristina Scabbia & Mark Osegueda on “Scars” contains one of those hooks that once you hear it, you can’t get it out of your head for days. The unlikely pairing of Dug Pinnick & Jamey Jasta on “Wait Until Tomorrow” winds up being one of the albums true highlights, while “Triangulum” is an epic instrumental that covers a shitload of musical ground. Imagine Metallica’s “Orion” or “To Live Is to Die” played by Dream Theater. If you get the deluxe edition of the album, it comes with the bonus track “We Rock,” an all-star tribute that will leave you wondering why the hell a song this good isn’t on every version of this amazing release. Here’s the bottom line. Not since the Ronnie James Dio tribute This Is Your Life or perhaps the Roadrunner United project have so many gifted artists appeared on one fantastic release and with the average song clocking in at around 6 minutes, you certainly get your money’s worth. Rating: 9 out of 10 -Eric Hunker