I’m never really too sure whether assembling a bunch of musicians and getting them to play some songs together is going to actually produce something worth listening to. Sometimes it works, other times not so much. Thankfully this is an instance of it definitely working rather well. But when you consider the core around which this Allegiance is built is Alex Skolnick (Lead and Rhythm Guitars), David Ellefson (Bass) and Mike Portnoy (Drums) it shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise.
Opening track “Gift Of Pain” features Randy Blythe on vocals with an additional lead by Gary Holt and is a stupendous way to start the album as it immediately sets the tone with its abrasive riffs and in your face vocal attack.
Troy Sanders’s smooth vocals are juxtaposition on “Let Darkness Fall” as the quickly changing riffs and tricky drum tempos take you to Mark Menghi and Rex Brown’s bass solos and the rather distinct lead by the maestro Skolnick.
“Dying Song” appears to be the first single from the album with a rather watchable video to accompany it. Phil Anselmo assumes vocal duties while Mark Menghi replaces Ellefson on bass here. The song itself is a moody lumbering track that was perfectly suited to Anselmo’s emotional enunciations.
You can’t mistake Chuck Billy’s vocals on “Can’t Kill The Devil” and as a huge Vio-lence fan, the same can be said about Phil Demmel’s lead. But the song itself has more of an Exodus vibe to the choppy rhythm and manic drumming, with Andreas Kisser laying down an additional lead too.
The beautiful duet by Mark Osegueda and Cristina Scabbia on “Scars” works so well it’s scary. Her vocals have always been powerful and when combined w/ his they take this relatively mid-paced song to a new level and make it something worth listening to.
“Destination Nowhere” has Matthew K. Heafy playing a lead along with doing the vocals which I must admit to being rather impressed by, as they are deeper and fuller than I expected them to be. The song itself is rather intricate with a catchy bass solo just before the lead break.
Starting off with a hauntingly melancholy solo “Wait Until Tomorrow” has Doug Pinnick taking care of the clean vocals, then when the guitars turn up the intensity a notch Jamey Jasta gives the vocals a far more hardcore edge.
The instrumental “Triangulum (I. Creation II. Evolution III. Destruction)” opens with a Dave Ellefson bass solo and then flows pretty much from lead to spectacular lead by Alec Skolnick, Misha Mansoor, Ben Weinman, Charlie Benante, Phil Demmel, Matthew K. Heafy and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal as it meanders languidly through its three movements during its near 8 minute journey.
Before the song started I was hoping “Pledge Of Allegiance” would have a bit of a Suicidal Tendencies flavour it, but Mark Osegueda makes sure the vocals are far more thrash than Cyco Miko’s and with the riffs being even faster than on the previous few songs allowing the three leads by Charlie Benante, Gary Holt and Andreas Kisser to be played at a blistering pace while they rhythm slowed down for their duration.
Sadly only the Deluxe Edition comes with the Dio bonus track “We Rock” that has pretty much everyone and more on the song. Guess I’m going to have to get a copy of that version for my personal collection, but I’m certain that there ought to be a video of the song coming out sometime, as it would be too good an opportunity to pass up.
The more I listen to the album, the more I enjoy it. And I sincerely doubt I’m going to be alone on that score.
(9/10 Marco Gaminara)