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US supergroup Metal Allegiance is the latest beneficiary of the Gerstner effect. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s something I just made up. But here’s the deal.
In 2005, plucky young (by comparison) guitarist Sascha Gerstner joined German power metal royalty Helloween. Having lost their way since 1994’s Master of The Rings, he pushed their rebirth back into metal’s critical and fan acclaim with a stunning Keeper of the Seven Keys—The Legacy. It revitalised the band. Like Silicon Valley’s arch-villain Gavin Belson injecting young blood quite literally into his veins. The same thing happened with bassist David Ellefson’s home band Megadeth and Kiko Loureiro; Judas Priest’s blinding Firepower owes much to the implantation of Richie Faulkner. Point is, you can have your dad rock band. Have a sub-40 year old on hand to offer comments like, “sure, if you like living with DOS prompts and three TV channels.” Then people might actually pay attention.
Metal Allegiance isn’t a fossil rock project, thanks to the young (also by comparison) bassist Mark Menghi. Yeah, two bassists. But as David says in our interview, he’s integral to the overall package. The Accuser featuring Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahila Murder) is the type of speed thrash that Trevor feels right at home with; likewise Bobby Blitz (Overkill) in Mother of Sin kinda sorta doing his best Mille Petrozza (Kreator) impression. The whole band, Menghi, Ellefson, Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) are such seasoned songwriters, and they know how to pair vocalists like snooty dudes do with wine and steak or whatever. Example: Terminal Illusion is speed metal ala Accept, so they got current Accept vocalist Mark Tornillo to lay down vocals. It’s a win-win.
Portnoy can play upside-down, blindfolded and in space. So hungry tribal rhythms, fevered Peyote dreams, and epic fills in Voodoo of the Godsend featuring—you guessed it—Max Cavalera (Soulfly) is a no brainer on that front. The outliers, if you want to call them that, is Johan Hegg doing a gruff turn on the blues (King With a Paper Crown), and gnarled Bay Area crossover cut Liars & Thieves, Mastodon’s Troy Sanders buried beneath walls of pounding riffs. Mark Osegeuda (Death Angel) on Hezz-era Megadeth headbanger Impulse Control is a real treat too. Hats off, David.
Metal Allegiance is a full fledged band, and it’s great hearing veteran metal heroes push their boundaries and experiment with riffs and sounds their bands wouldn’t touch in a million years. These guys know their craft; don’t pass up a listen because it feels like a cash-grab. It isn’t.
STANDOUT TRACKS: The Accuser, Impulse Control, Voodoo of the Godsend
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Megadeth, Testament, new Judas Priest