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Genre:Heavy/True/Power/Speed Metal, Thrash Metal
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Limited to 500 transparent double vinyls with two bonus tracks in a gatefold sleeve. Brought together by METAL ALLEGIANCE principal partner Mark Menghi, the original material came together from the creative minds of David Ellefson of MEGADETH, Mike Portnoy of THE WINERY DOGS and Alex Skolnick from TESTAMENT alongside Menghi. The four writers then reached out through their metal rolodexes to a diverse lineup of performers, each adding their own personal musical stamp to the collection of nine original songs. More information on the performers and individual track lineups will be released in the near future. The debut album from METAL ALLEGIANCE is slated for release in fall 2015. Stemming from an initial idea in 2011, METAL ALLEGIANCE was born as a way to unite a collection of hard rock and heavy metal’s most notable musicians in a setting born under one ideal, a love of music and performing. In 2015, that ideal still holds true and has become the foundation for everything METAL ALLEGIANCE; furthered with the release of the upcoming debut album. While the lineup may change, the passion, the energy and the emotion all remain the same. METAL ALLEGIANCE is more than just a record or a concert, it’s an experience and a lifestyle.
Heavy Metal is more than a genre, more than an attitude, and certainly more than whatever cheap epithets are dismissively thrown at it by clueless critics. At its best, Metal is a lifestyle, a community, a tribe uniting people across cultural, economic, and philosophical divides with the primal pulse of bombastic and majestic expression.
Never before has one entity encapsulated so many components of the heavy metal community’s continued vibrancy and dedication to the lifestyle than the collective fittingly called METAL ALLEGIANCE. Like the comic book heroes of »The Avengers« franchise, the men and women who’ve assembled on the stage and in the studio as METAL ALLEGIANCE come and go as they please, but each arrive armed with unique mythologies and classic discographies of their own, converging with mutual respect and a collaborative spirit. The result is a continuously evolving musical force both serious in its proficiency and celebratory in its enthusiasm and camaraderie.
Now, METAL ALLEGIANCE unleashes an album as pulverizing, energetic, atmospheric, and awe inspiring as fans of the jaw-dropping list of associated bands should expect.
The liner notes for the METAL ALLEGIANCE album read like a massive chunk of a heavy metal encyclopedia, with contributions from past and present members of MEGADETH, TESTAMENT, DREAM THEATER, LAMB OF GOD, SLAYER, EXODUS, MASTODON, PANTERA, TRIVIUM, KINGS X, HATEBREED, SEPULTURA, MACHINE HEAD, ANTHRAX, LACUNA COIL, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, PERIPHERY, DEATH ANGEL, JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH, and ARCH ENEMY. Live incarnations of METAL ALLEGIANCE have seen guest appearances from Geezer Butler (BLACK SABBATH), Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee (MOTÖRHEAD), Wolfgang Van Halen (VAN HALEN), Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan.
As Troy Sanders (MASTODON) declared when he joined METAL ALLEGIANCE at the NAMM Convention in January 2015: “Holy Shit! I’ve been invited to the All-Star game!”
METAL ALLEGIANCE founder Mark Menghi describes his relationship with David Ellefson, Mike Portnoy and Alex Skolnick in terms of brotherhood, and it was those four who buckled down to write the first batch or original, all new material for the METAL ALLEGIANCE album. As principal architects, Ellefson (MEGADETH), Portnoy (THE WINERY DOGS), Skolnick (TESTAMENT), and Menghi (a bassist and musical instruments industry exec beloved by metal musicians) built a foundation of sonic steel.
“Mark is kind of like the Brian Epstein of the band,” says Portnoy. “He’s the behind-the-scenes mastermind who put the whole thing together. When we began this as a live covers thing, he was the guy moving the chess pieces. When we decided to make original music, he became a huge creative element as a songwriter, as well.”
“Usually in a band, there's a leader type, there's a guy that's more passive, a guy that wants to be a rock star at all costs, and sometimes, there's a guy on drugs over in the corner,” Ellefson explains. “You have all of these dynamics in a rock band. What’s so cool about METAL ALLEGIANCE is that we’ve got four strong leaders who are all motivated, capable, and very driven. Everybody gets a chance to shine in METAL ALLEGIANCE, and everybody is comfortable when it’s time to step aside, too.”
More than an experiment, a one-off or a “super group”, METAL ALLEGIANCE is an experience. D. Randall Blythe (LAMB OF GOD) lends his blistered pipes to 'Gift Of Pain', which features dueling solos from Skolnick and Gary Holt (EXODUS, SLAYER). Troy Sanders (MASTODON, KILLER BE KILLED) sets an ominous vocal mood with the vintage PINK FLOYD infused 'Let Darkness Fall' with Rex Brown (PANTERA, KILL DEVIL HILL) pitching in on additional bass duties. The blend of melodic power from Doug Pinnick (KINGS X) and the metalcore bite from Jamey Jasta (HATEBREED, KINGDOM OF SORROW) on 'Wait Until Tomorrow' blends as seamlessly as the duet between Mark Osegueda (DEATH ANGEL) and Cristina Scabbia (LACUNA COIL) on 'Scars' or the somber intensity of 'Dying Song' featuring Philip Anselmo (PANTERA, DOWN).
“The word "supergroup" gets thrown around a lot, and I don’t so much mind the word, but this project feels more like multiple supergroups to me,” says Skolnick, who’d sat in with the guys for the first time on Motörhead’s Motörboat Cruise in September 2014, which happened to be the first time the collective performed as METAL ALLEGIANCE.
“The name sums it up,” says Portnoy. “It's all about this camaraderie. The word ‘allegiance’ is perfect. We're making music for metal fans, by metal fans. We get together to do this and it brings us back to our teenage years, just being fans of this entire genre. That's the whole reason of doing this. It really is like a brotherhood.”
By December, the core members were writing songs at Portnoy’s home. “Obviously he's a phenomenal drummer - he's Mike fucking Portnoy - but many people probably don't know about his arrangement ideas,” Menghi reveals. “He can just hear things in his head as far as arrangements. If we're writing riffs, instantaneously he knows how to put a song together within a minute. It's pretty damn amazing. And Alex? He’s a guitar god. He can just play anything and that’s what this record shows. There are some riffs on here I believe are going to be classic riffs, riffs I’d compare to Dimebag Darrell and 'Walk' or James Hetfield and 'Master Of Puppets'; very iconic, very memorable.”
“METAL ALLEGIANCE formed as a live act first, that's a big difference, too,” reasons Ellefson. “When bands perform live you can very clearly see what it is and what it can be. It wasn’t theoretical in this case. Everything was very practical and pragmatic because you can see it, feel it, and you knew what it was capable of becoming.”
Just as the electrifying concept explored by collaborative tribute experiences like HAIL! and METAL MASTERS eventually led to the founding of METAL ALLEGIANCE in 2014, the collective’s raucous renditions of classic material from the likes of JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, OZZY, THIN LIZZY, VAN HALEN and PANTERA in clubs, conventions and cruise ships, however improbably, inevitably led to the creation of an album of brand new material.
“We’ve all existed outside of the things we’re most known for,” says Skolnick, himself a graduate of The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music. “But when we come together, the core music that we all love is the same. We all flipped over the first few VAN HALEN records. We loved original KISS. When we decided to do JUDAS PRIEST’s 'Victim Of Changes', we all said, ‘Of course we’re going to do the »Unleashed In The East« version!’”
“The feel of the music would really give us a good idea of who would be great to sing it,” Portnoy explains. “'Pledge Of Allegiance' is an old-school thrash song, like something off of »Bonded By Blood«, »Kill ‘Em All« or the first DEATH ANGEL album.” Mark Osegueda (DEATH ANGEL) was drafted to sing, with guest guitar parts from Andreas Kisser (SEPULTURA), Gary Holt (SLAYER, EXODUS) and Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX), one of metal’s most famous drummers but a great guitar player in his own right, too.
Often, the vibe of a song would change yet again once the singer laid down tracks. 'Let Darkness Fall' had an IRON MAIDEN feel before Sanders’ contribution made it doomier. 'Dying Song' is another great example. “We definitely wear a few influences on our sleeves, and that song was BLACK SABBATH all the way,” says Skolnick. “But then we put Philip Anselmo on that and he doesn’t sound like Ozzy Osbourne. He sounds like Philip Anselmo! And the riffs may have a SABBATH feel, but for the solos, I was able to tap into Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix, stuff I’ve done at live jams, but never before on a record. Then Phil takes it to a whole other place. I'm amazed with what he did with it.”
The album was produced by Alex Skolnick, Mark Menghi, David Ellefson and Mike Portnoy, and mixed by Josh Wilbur (LAMB OF GOD, AVENGED SEVENFOLD, GOJIRA). The first record of all-original material released under the METAL ALLEGIANCE banner found a perfect home at Nuclear Blast Entertainment, the label venture founded by Markus Staiger (Nuclear Blast) and Monte Conner (ex-Roadrunner Records). The NBE roster includes Nightwish, MACHINE HEAD, SUICIDE SILENCE, FEAR FACTORY and KILLER BE KILLED.
“We really surrounded ourselves with good people and good musicians,” says Menghi. “That’s the whole point of it. It’s not about egos, it’s not about who is a better player. It’s more about "Who is a good person?" That’s the foundation of METAL ALLEGIANCE.”
Ellefson concurs: “The four of us on that ship deciding to go into the studio and make a record was no different than me meeting my buddy Greg in the hallway of Jackson Elementary School and saying, ‘Hey dude, you like KISS, I like KISS, let's form a band’”, he says. “It was the exact same spirit. That's what METAL ALLEGIANCE is, that's who we are. Forget that we're famous. We all live right around the corner from each other, figuratively or literally. We all share the exact same record collection. That's the spirit.”