Ah, Metal Allegiance, the band where my entire music journalist life started! A few years ago their self-titled debut was my first ever album to review, not having a clue what I was doing other than being straight with myself and stating what I felt about the album, I couldn’t flaw it! It still gets played often to this day (with the ‘Fallen Heroes EP thrown in for good measure!) and was the perfect thing to stick on as a warm up for their sophomore release.
Their debut was spot on, a massive collective of musically gifted friends, it was like playing a one arm bandit machine with every possible combination scoring the jackpot. So what has changed from then? Well, to be honest, not much, but enough. Firstly, the core band of Alex Skolnick on guitar, Mike Portnoy on drums, with both Dave Ellefson and Mark Menghi rotating on bass. The list of artists guesting may be somewhat slimmer, but still chocked full of variety and impressive, of course among those guests is the somewhat regular live vocalist of the Allegiance, Mark Osegueda with two showings.
Guests on this album mostly take up the vocals spot, they include the likes of Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder), John Bush (Armored Saint), Bobby Blitz (Overkill), Mark Tornillo (Accept), Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth), Max Cavalera (Soulfly), Troy Sanders (Mastodon), and Floor Jansen (Nightwish). A fantastic set of guests that carry more weight to the hype.
Similar to the debut, with the odd exception, each song leans slightly towards the styling of what suits the guests main band, opener ‘The Accuser’ is filled with dark, flashy moments that soon satisfy my thrashy/death metal taste buds, possibly sounding a little thin with the guitar in the mix, it can soon be made up for but the duel passages Skolnick lashes out during the verses and a push of the volume button. ‘Bound by Silence’ has John Bush enter the fray, recently released with an official video, stepping back to the era of the Vietnam war, it is broken up and blended with live footage of the band, a track that really showcases just how good Bush is lyrically and vocally, Menghi also finding time to bring the bass to the forefront.
Bobby Blitz and ‘Mother of Sin’ everyone should be well acquainted with thanks to its official video release back in June, and ‘Terminal Illusion’ following in just as spectacular fashion, but ‘King with a Paper Crown’ claims the crown for some of the catchiest magic of the album, but no prizes for guessing the voice joining Johan Hegg on the chorus!
‘Voodoo of the Godsend’ Max Cavalera naturally brings that regular tribal touch that he has owned since the dawn of time, especially regarding the drums. I expected this, but I also thought the idea of it would have been tired and boring to me, so happy to be proven wrong, but then again, Mike Portnoy is anything but boring with what he creates behind the kit! From here they find some more regular territory having already covered a track with Troy Sanders before, then comes the infectious Mark Osegueda.
The final two tracks come as the title tracks in a duo, part one with Osegueda and part two with Floor. Both holding their own and working well together, with the first rounding off and seeming to borrow from Iron Maidens ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, something I really loved. The splitting of the two parts doesn’t seem to make sense to me, and steals quite a bit of glory from an otherwise superb masterpiece of a song.
All in all, does it follow on from the first album? Yes and no, perhaps it isn’t as impressive as the first, but it is very much a more fine-tuned machine. Logistically speaking, getting so many people together to record an album is never an easy task, the fact they have done this twice in so many few years is a testament to how big a project this is, let alone with what the guys in their individual bands are doing! Regardless, it is a fantastic album from start to end, the odd moments that may not sit right with me now I already know are what within a year or so will probably make the songs that much better for me. I pledged my Allegiance long ago, I am happy to say this just makes it even stronger.
Power Drunk Majesty is out September 7th via Nuclear Blast Records.