In what is probably the biggest Who’s Who of heavy metal since Jimmy Bain, Vivian Campbell and Ronnie James Dio concocted the idea of Hear’n’Aid back during those halcyon days of hairspray and bulging spandex around 1985, Metal Allegiance continues to add name after name after name to its roster of well-respected contributors.
A project dreamt up by Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick, bassist/producer/songwriter Mark Menghi, former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, and Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, the supergroup’s 2015 debut album, simply titled Metal Allegiance, featured a huge list of guest performances from such luminaries as Philip H Anselmo (Down, Pantera), Chuck Billy (Testament), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Exodus and Slayer guitarist Gary Holt, and many more names which would take up far too much of everyone’s time to list and read. Suffice to say, the credits read as a veritable cornucopia of metal legends, and the same can also be said of follow-up album Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty (Nuclear Blast).
With a collection of songs reflecting the topsy-turvy state of America today, but presented with neither a liberal nor conservative political agenda, the four core members have surrounded themselves with even more distinguished names and faces – some returning, but many new – to act as their mouthpieces to vent their frustrations. These many vocal talents supported by riffs and solo spots from guest guitarists such as Andreas Kisser (Sepultura), Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper), and Skolnick’s very own guitar teacher, the one and only Joe Satriani.
After an intro that sounds rather similar to ‘Voivod’ by, well… Voivod, but with some added widdling, opening track ‘The Accuser’ suddenly launches itself out of the starting blocks with a riff and a shitting half, bolstered by some viciously rasping vocals from The Black Dahlia Murder singer Trevor Strnad. Armored Saint and former Anthrax frontman John Bush lends his formidable voice to the chunky riff-monster that is ‘Bound By Silence’, while the unmistakably shrill tones of Overkill‘s Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth snap and bark all over the suitably speedy thrash groove of ‘Mother of Sin’. ‘Terminal Illusion’ features the similarly distinct stridency of Accept‘s Mark Tornillo while Mike Portnoy augments the track with some appropriately prodigious drumming.
Imposing and impressively bearded Amon Amarth frontman Johan Hegg roars his hairy little viking heart out on ‘King With a Paper Crown’ which also features some fantastic Iron Maiden-esque soloing, while Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy vocalist Max Cavalera sounds tremendous on the Sepultastic ‘Voodoo of the Godsend’. The Testament vibe of ‘Liars and Thieves’ features the return of Mastodon‘s Troy Sanders, while ‘Impulse Control’ and ‘Power Drunk Majesty (Part 1)’ feature one of Metal Allegiance’s more regular studio and live contributors, Mark Osegueda from San Francisco thrashers Death Angel, the former cut also featuring some seriously nifty bass work. Nightwish singer Floor Jansen does a typically fine job on the album’s final track, ‘Power Drunk Majesty (Part 2), a song with a healthy hint of Dio in its instantly catchy chorus.
Metal Allegiance – Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty. A hokey band name. A clunky album title. But, oh my, THOSE FUCKING RIFFS!