By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
The NAMM Show is the biggest musical trade show/convention of all time. People from all over the world come down to Anaheim, Calif. for a 4 day musical extravaganza, checking out the different equipment, seeing all kinds of merchandise, playing with the instruments, and meeting artists that have come to promote the products they are endorsing or to simply hang out. The other thing to do during NAMM week is checking out the different concerts that are happening in the area. In Santa Ana, we have the annual Dimebash, where the Metal Ambassador Jose Mangin arranges a bunch of musicians to perform Pantera tunes, in honor of the late Abbott brothers, guitar god Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul. I covered that event last year, so this year, I headed to the House of Blues in Anaheim for the annual Metal Allegiance performance. Metal Allegiance is an all-star metal band that was started by bassist Mark Menghi, who has recruited Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, Testament axe-man Alex Skolnick, and ex-Dream Theater drummer mastermind Mike Portnoy, with an array of different guest vocalists. It is a celebration and brotherhood to honor heavy metal as a community.
After the opening acts did their job warming up the crowd (unfortunately I missed them), Metal Allegiance united once again to pay homage to the Godfathers of Heavy Metal, Black Sabbath. Death Angel frontman Mark Osegueda lent his hollowing voice for “Black Sabbath.” Menghi and Skolnick dressed in wigs to look the parts of Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi respectively, both of whom nailed each riff and beat. After that, Accept’s Mark Tornillo lent his voice to “The Wizard,” while also whipping out his harmonica and recreating that iconic sound that makes the song that more trippy/eerie. To follow-up on Tornillo’s stellar performance, Overkill’s madman vocalist Bobby Blitz darted to the stage, where he belted out his pipes for 4 Sabbath tunes, which included “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” “Basically,” “N.I.B.,” and “Wicked World.” Blitz was a sheer force of nature as soon as he grabbed the microphone, gutting the eardrums of the fans watching him.
After wrapping up “Wicked World,” Blitz introduced us to Testament’s beast vocalist Chuck Billy, Sepultura’s guitarist Andreas Kisser, Ellefson, and Machine Head axe-man Phil Demmel. Together, they dominated the Metal Allegiance original tune, “Can’t Kill the Devil.” Soon after, Portnoy stepped down from kit so Sepultura’s drumming machine Eloy Casagrande could lend his groove technique to the Sepultura cover, “Roots Bloody Roots.” It was now time for death metal to step forward when The Black Dahlia Murder screamer Trevor Strnad hollered and wailed with aggressiveness with the Metal Allegiance song “Gift of Pain” and the Slayer classic, “South of Heaven.” He would also return for “The Accuser,” which was a blistering pleasure to hear. Tornillo returned for some more metal fun with the iconic Dio tune “Stand Up and Shout,” and the original “Terminal Illusion.” Thrash metal took center stage when Exodus leader Steve “Zetro” Sousa and his bassist Jack Gibson hit us with the Exodus classic, “Toxic Waltz.” After Strnad performed “The Accuser,” Armored Saint and former Anthrax frontman John Bush gave the Anaheim crowd a dosage of his metal swagger with the original tune “Bound by Silence” and the Anthrax song “Only You.”
Billy returned to the stage to give the fans a taste Testament magic with “Voodoo of the Godsend,” which is featured off their latest LP, Brotherhood of the Snake. After Blitz serenaded us with “Mother of Sin,” Osegueda came back out to give us the first part of “Power Drunk Majesty.” After slaying Part 1, Arch Enemy’s own Alissa White-Gluz waltzed out to the stage to sing Part 2, which was originally done by Nightwish’s Floor Jansen on Metal Allegiance’s latest record, Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty. Gluz was full of brutal force, annihilating the fans with her fierce voice. She even brought a surprise for the crowd, her guitarist boyfriend Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein, where they went into the Misfits song “Last Caress.” Osegueda then came back to lead us into the “Pledge of Allegiance,” where we sang and declared our loyalty to heavy metal. After a brief timeout, Bush and Gluz led a majority of Metal Allegiance in singing Iron Maiden’s “Aces High.” Both Bush and Gluz were an effective pair, singing the lyrics together. For the last tune, which was another Iron Maiden classic “The Trooper,” everyone came back out to lead the troops into the final battle. The energy in the room was out of this world.
Full Metal Allegiance gallery below:
It was amazing to see so many heavy metal musicians come together to celebrate a genre that we have all come to love. My colleague Jeniffer Grana (aka Rock Temptress) and I had a headbanging good time. Menghi was right to assemble this all-star group because he loves metal as much as any of us do. This was one of the best concerts to help kick off NAMM weekend. They will return next NAMM because it is their special tradition, a tradition that I hope will continue for many more years to come. Metal fans unite, for we have pledged our allegiance. To Metal Allegiance, I salute you. Horns up!!!