Metal Allegiance – Metal Allegiance (Track by Track Album Review)

METAL ALLEGIANCEMetal Allegiance (Track by track review)

OUT: September 18th, 2015

Mike Portnoy | drums
David Ellefson | bass
Alex Skolnick | guitars
Mark Menghi | songwriter, bass


Metal Allegiance, described by members or its cast of musicians as a musical experience not a super group releases their debut album next month. If you’re not familiar with Metal Allegiance, and you’re a fan of thrash or classic heavier style metal then you need to wake the fuck up! The foundation of the band is The Winery Dogs’, Mike Portnoy (ex Dream Theater) on drums, Megadeth bassist, Dave Ellefson, Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick and the song writing skills of Mark Menghi. This quartet alone would command attention of the metal world let alone who else they bring to the table and they form the cornerstone for the bulk of tracks on the record. However, Metal Allegiance, as stated, is not a group as such, it’s an experience and the cast of artists that assist on the release is nothing short of outstanding, so much so, that Wall of Sound has dedicated its first track by track review of an album to this release, detailing a decisive who’s who on what will surely be one of the albums of the year.

Track 1
‘Gift of Pain’
Vocals – Randy Blythe (Lamb of God)
Guitar – Alex Skolnick (Testament)
Guitar – Gary Holt (Exodus, Slayer)
Bass – David Ellefson (Megadeth)
Drums – Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)
The lead off track hits you right between the eyes, this is heavy metal royalty at work. Blythe’s patent guttural growls lead the bludgeoning track on its course but it’s the Ellefson bridge that builds this song and takes it to a ripper guitar solo from Skolnich and Holt that is the highlight.

Track 2
‘Let Darkness Fall’
Vocals – Troy Sanders (Mastodon, Killer Be Killed)
Guitar – Alex Skolnick (Testament)
Bass – David Ellefson (Megadeth)
Additional Bass – Rex Brown (Kill Devil Hill, Pantera)
Additional Bass – Mark Menghi
Drums – Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)
Backing Vocals – Randy Blythe (Lamb of God)
A seven minute long doomy Pink Floyd-esque heavy bliss. Again the backing is heavy but with Sanders on vox, the track slews towards a more Floyd/Alice in Chains vibe as his deeper more soulful tone leads the path to metal wonderment. There are three bass parts involved in this track, good luck guessing who owns which part. The Metallica sounding bridge later into the song with the bass breaking down before marching back into its heavier load is superlative.

Track 3
‘Dying Song’
Vocals – Phil Anselmo (Down, Pantera, Superjoint Ritual)
Guitar – Alex Skolnick (Testament)
Bass – Mark Menghi
Drums – Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)
The gradual build of this track is reminiscent of Black Sabbath, Anselmo taking it toward a southern groove similar to his Down band’s sound. After Skolnick plants his impeccable riff and solo down, combining succinctly with Portnoy’s beats the track lifts to another level. The crescendo plants Anselmo in perhaps, his most Pantera sounding moment since the band’s demise. A stellar track. You can’t help enjoying Anselmo in this type of groove.

Track 4
‘Can’t Kill the Devil’
Vocals – Chuck Billy (Testament)
Guitar – Alex Skolnick (Testament)
Bass – David Ellefson (Megadeth)
Drums – Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)
Guitar – Phil Demmel (Machine Head)
Guitar – Andreas Kisser (Sepultura)
Thrash. What else could it be, with Testament’s Chuck Billy manning the mike. The Slayer sounding intro is immense before the balls out thrash comes a knocking. Portnoy’s double kick treat sends the track into over drive. Fans of 80/90s thrash metal will devour this. Check out the official lyric video below.

Track 5
Vocals – Mark Osegueda (Death Angel)
Vocals – Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil)
Guitar – Alex Skolnick (Testament)
Bass – David Ellefson (Megadeth)
Drums – Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)
Another thrash metal monster with Cristina Scabbia’s melodic chorus adding a differing perspective to what is otherwise another throwback to 80/90s thrash. Death Angel’s Mark Osegueda is the other half of the vocal on this one. Again, Skolnick’s solo is a monster.

Track 6
‘Destination Nowhere’
Vocals/Guitar – Matt Heafy (Trivium)
Guitar – Alex Skolnick (Testament)
Bass – David Ellefson (Megadeth)
Drums – Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)
Superb elongated guitar intro, Triviums’ Heafy and Skolnick duelling their guitar parts until Heafy in his Hetfield guise lets loose. The melodic chorus, perhaps a nod to Trivium’s direction on forthcoming album, Silence in the Snow. Either way, another stellar track, down playing the thrash element into a more hard rock anthem.

Track 7
‘Wait Until Tomorrow’
Vocals – Dug Pinnick (Kings X)
Vocals – Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed, Kingdom of Sorrow)
Guitar – Alex Skolnick (Testament)
Bass – David Ellefson (Megadeth)
Drums/Vocals – Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)
The almost 65 year old, Dug Pinnick of Kings X with his Alice In Chains gospel like vox is in stark contrast to Jamey Jasta who rips into a hard-core vice like a sledgehammer when his vocal turn comes around. Somehow it works, especially with Skolnick’s impressive riff and solo again splicing the track open, before Pinnick’s croon calms the storm.

Track 8
Guitar – Alex Skolnick (Testament)
Bass – David Ellefson (Megadeth)
Drums – Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)
Additional Guitar – Misha Mansoor (Periphery)
Additional Guitar – Ben Weinman (Dillinger Escape Plan)
Additional Guitar – Charlie Benante (Anthrax)
Additional Guitar – Phil Demmel (Machine Head)
Additional Guitar – Matt Heafy (Trivium)
Additional Guitar – Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (ex Guns N Roses)
The instrumental to end all instrumentals. Take a look at the talent on this track. The winding guitars, the effects, the licks, the hooks, it’s all here, all encompassing. Sit back and relax, heavy metal at it’s finest.

Track 9
‘Pledge of Allegiance’
Vocals – Mark Osegueda (Death Angel)
Guitar – Alex Skolnick (Testament)
Bass – David Ellefson (Megadeth)
Drums – Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)
Additional Guitar – Charlie Benante (Anthrax)
Addiotnal Guitar – Gary Holt (Exodus, Slayer)
Additional Guitar – Andreas Kisser (Selpultura)
Concluding with what should become the calling card of Metal Allegiance, the final track ‘Pledge of Allegiance’. A thrash monster, encapsulating all that 80/90s thrash metal stood for. Fast, killer riffs, stellar guitarmanship, double kick drum beats.

What is there to dislike about Metal Allegiance? Where supergroups sometimes fall short with amalgamating talent, Metal Allegiance stay true to their roots. Now transformed from occasional home town performances with whoever was available at the time, the studio version of Metal Allegiance is a winner on all levels. Troy Sanders probably said it best when he described playing in Metal Allegiance back in January 2015, “Holy Shit! I’ve been invited to the All-Star game!” Metal’s answer to ‘The Avengers’, a batch of heavy metal super heroes on the one album, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Rating 9/10

Cheers @Plugga73

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About Plugga73 (370 Articles)
Writing, reviewing, interviewing, exploring new and old heavy music. From punk to grunge to hardcore to death metal to thrash and everything in between. I've been writing in the music industry now for several years including the websites LOUD, SF Media, Tone Deaf, The Metal Review and AMNplify. I'll be the one talking about bands from the 90s all the time..... Hit me up on twitter @Plugga73