[ALBUM REVIEW] Metal Allegiance – Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty

VOLUME II: POWER DRUNK MAJESTY TRACKLISTING

The Accuser (feat. Trevor Strnad)
Bound by Silence (feat. John Bush)
Mother of Sin (feat. Bobby Blitz)
Terminal Illusion (feat. Mark Tornillo)
King with a Paper Crown (feat. Johan Hegg)
Voodoo of the Godsend (feat. Max Cavalera)
Liars & Thieves (feat. Troy Sanders)
Impulse Control (feat. Mark Osegueda)
Power Drunk Majesty (Part I) (feat. Mark Osegueda)
Power Drunk Majesty (Part II) (feat. Floor Jansen)

Reviewed by Casper

Power Drunk Majesty marks the return of metal masters Dave Ellefson, Mark Menghi, Mike Portnoy and Alex Skolnick as the ‘Core Four’ protagonists who make up the mighty metal treasure trove that is Metal Allegiance.

Six years of from the Fallen Heroes EP and three on from their debut album, this fantastic four return with a sophomore collection that truly illustrates their mastery at the cauldron of metal collaboration.  The concept of allegiance and this album in context are exemplified by the superb selection of the perfect vocal contributors accompanying the instrumental diversity and raw excellence.

The organic cohesion achieved and maintained throughout this magnificent collection is astonishing but makes perfect sense when considering the individuals responsible.   This is one album that should adorn every metal collection as a shining light of genre celebration and the epitome of collaborative brilliance.

One wonders with each offering, which came first? The song or the vocalist?

This question is put to rest by Dave Ellefson in a recent chat I had with him about this very collection and can be heard here and his response does come as a bit of a shock.

The ‘same room sound’ translates immediately with the opening track and illustrates that the ‘file share style’ of musical collaboration will not do at all for this outfit.  They feed on the inherent connection that can only be derived from being in the same room, at the same time, with a singular objective.

Despite the necessity for guest artists as an integral and key critical component of the Metal Allegiance philosophy, the decision to reduce the volume of guests has provided an opportunity for the ‘Core Four’ to concentrate their efforts and resulted in work of unprecedented grandeur and musical excellence.   This is surely testament (pun intended) to their individual status as metal masters all, because to achieve this cohesion on such a diverse album is something few would have the cojones to even attempt.

The Accuser is a phenomenal opener and sets the scene for the album to perfection whilst powerfully throwing forth the skill of Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder.

Bound By Silence follows forcefully and features John Bush of Armoured Saint.  This poignant and powerful track was reportedly prompted by a barroom conversation between Mark Menghi and a terminally ill Vietnam veteran.

Mother Of Sin features the brilliant master of thrash himself Bobby Blitz and it is perfect.  Perfect for his voice and style leaving us wondering if anyone else could possibly have achieved the same lofty heights of style perfection.  Surely It was written with Bobby, or with Bobby in mind at very least.

Mark Tornillo from Accept lends his unique and magnificent vocal skills to Terminal Illusion.   This song and its predecessor are described as deeply personal and I offer an opportunity to listen to Dave Ellefson comment on that observation in the interview link above. But with Mark Tornillo as part of the creative process, this song could be nothing but monumentally brilliant.  Herein lies linked a bridge to the European metal flavor to follow and what a link to offer.  The American singer at the fore of the Teutonic Terror beckoning us to venture further into the euro metal offerings all under the banner of Metal AllegianceKing With A Paper Crown featuring Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth, just is utter perfection and leads us further down the aforementioned path.

The mighty Max Cavalera provides pure brilliance on Voodoo Of The Godsend which has an amazing video clip to accompany.  If you have not yet had the opportunity to explore the video clip, I’m sure first glance will see you emerge with the words Max Cavalera at the fore of your description.

The brilliant Troy Sanders makes a most appropriate appearance on the album.  Maybe too personal an opinion but Metal Allegiance would not be the same without Troy.  He delivers Liars and Thieves in his own unique style and the crowd murmuring at the beginning of the song and a bell calling all to order is indicative of his creative touch.

Speaking of a creative touch, what eloquence in an expression of unity under the metal banner to have Killer Be Killed bandmates in Max and Troy sequenced one after the other.

Mark Osugeda from Death Angel performs phenomenally on Impulse Control and luckily there are enough words that rhyme with control, although I’m quite certain that is critical to arrange toll, soul, pole, and hole in thoughtful sequence.

Mark has such a brilliant skill set and available range that he could meet the challenge of almost any musical arrangement, but nevertheless, his style makes this track unmistakably his.  He continues this phenomenally superb sound into Drunk Majesty Part I, the penultimate movement ushering in a fittingly triumphant finale of this collection which flows like a concert to end all concerts.

What better icon of metal to complete an album by using their unique style to bring finale in a manner more akin to being awakened from a dreamscape than Floor Jensen of Nightwish.  Floor offers her utter melodic magic to complete this phenomenal collection to perfection in Drunk Majesty Part II.

The genius of this collection is only realised upon completion when you are left with a realisation that you want more and more of this magnificent journey.   Subsequent spins, and hopefully in sequence bring further delight from this gift that keeps on giving.  Sensational shredding styles that could not possibly be from a sole protagonist prompt further investigation and ultimately reveal that we have been enjoying the brilliant Andreas Kisser of Sepultura, the sensational Hurricane Nita Straus and a surprise inclusion of Joe Satriani.   The latter of which was a onetime Alex Skolnick guitar teacher, pre Testament of course but a big surprise on this collection nonetheless.

This collection is a superb celebration by those united in metal, for all united by metal.   This is by no means a follow on from the debut album, nor an attempt at replication or betterment. This is more a refinement akin to the maturing of a living, breathing entity.

I feel no requirement to stray off the path into individual accounts of the mind-blowing array of hooks, riffs, thrills and spills that adorn this superb creation and hope that this broad strokes overview provides description enough to adequately encourage others to delve into what will ultimately prove a powerfully fulfilling experience.  A monumental experience built on Metal Allegiance.  A finely crafted masterwork of metal magnificence that is Power Drunk Majesty.  Bravura.