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Metal Allegiance Review
METAL ALLEGIANCE

NUCLEAR BLAST
Release Date: September 18th 2015



If ever the supergroup tag needed a band to be defined as one thing only, Metal Allegiance would be it. As far as heavy metal goes, it doesn't get much better than the musicians who appear in this project. With the vision and main songwriter of Mark Menghi and the basis of the band that is Alex Skolnick (Testament), Dave Ellefson (Megadeth) and Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater), the result is an amazing set of songs that is also diverse but heavy.
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There's plenty of everything on here, from groove metal tracks "Gift Of Pain" and "Let Darkness Fall" to thrash metal pieces like ""Can't Kill The Devil" and "Pledge Of Allegiance" and even progressive stuff like the instrumental epic "Triangulum". Even some classic stuff like "Dying Song" or melodic rock in "Destination" make their way in so the album is as diverse as it is heavy but what's surprising is that while a lot of times a lot of big names on one project can sound good on paper, it can also come across as disappointing in reality. Individually and in their own band, these musicians are legendary but somehow, Metal Allegiance works on every level. Maybe it's the fact that when you hear the singer in any particular song on the album, it sounds eerily like the band they are from. Take the opening track "Gift Of Pain" for example. Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe gives his signature growl a good run on this song and if you didn't know any better, you would think you were actually listening to a Lamb Of God track. What I found out in our interview with Mark Menghi and Alex Skolnick was surprisingly, these songs were not written with these singers in mind. They were in fact brought in after the fact but they just fit perfectly with each track, making it their own. "Can't Kill The Devil" is another example of this, Chuck Billy teaming up with his compadre in Testament to put out a very thrashy song that could easily have been on a recent Testament album. By the end you can hear Mike Portnoy voicing his feelings on a killer song that just ended.

Other highlights of the album include "Dying Song" featuring none other than the great Phil Anselmo himself on vocals, a very grooving track which breaks into a huge Black Sabbathy riff a little after the midway point and running with it until the end. If ever there was a song that was going to make you headbang, this is going to be it. The final track is one of my personal highlights almost purely for the ending alone with Alex going berserk with a killer guitar solo at the end, a tremendous way to finish off the album. But before we end things there, let's go back a little to some of the more interesting track that should be mentioned like "Triangulum", an epic instrumental progressive piece that features dazzling guitar solos and off kilter time signatures. Created in 3 parts - Creation, Evolution and Destruction - it's a whirlwind song that breaks away from the rest of the pack on the album which generally sits in a more traditional format. Which then leads me into "Scars" which features the contrasting voices of Mark Osegueda from Death Angel and Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil, something which I don't think I would of thought I would ever see. The contrast is not something particular new in metal and Christina is not completely foreign to thrash metal having worked with Megadeth previously but Mark's gritty style has always been in it's own league so this was interesting but cool nonetheless. The song sways from melodic rock to thrash metal so you can kinda see where the vocal styles mesh together.

I could go on and on really but this album is both great on paper and on record, musically, sonically, lyrically and in general altogether. What Mark and the rest of the gang have done here is fantastic and I think represents metal very well. An allegiance to heavy metal.


TRACKLIST
Gift Of Pain (feat. D. Randall Blythe)
Let Darkness Fall (feat. Troy Sanders)
Dying Song (feat. Philip H. Anselmo)
Can't Kill The Devil (feat. Chuck Billy)
Scars (feat. Mark Osegueda & Cristina Scabbia)
Destination: Nowhere (feat. Matthew K. Heafy)
Wait Until Tomorrow (feat. dUg Pinnick & Jamey Jasta)
Triangulum (I. Creation II. Evolution III. Destruction)
Pledge Of Allegiance (feat. Mark Osegueda)

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Review by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie