Metal Allegiance - Metal Allegiance (2015)

Metal Allegiance is The Avenger team of heavy metal. Formed by four members, Mike Portnoy, David Ellefson, Alex Skolnick and unlikely team brain Mark Menghi. Menghi who? As Portnoy describe :

“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.”

Together, they unleashed  debut album with the same title, Metal Allegiance. Ten songs being released with multiple vocalist join the stage, ranging from D.Randall Blythe, Troy Sanders to Phillip Anselmo to Tim "The Ripper" Owen.

The first song "Gift Of Pain" is in death metal spirit. D. Randall Blythe delivered a "smooth" scream vocal. It is curious to see how David Ellefson find more spirit than his M-deth allegiance. Mike Portnoy surely has enough fun with all the prog - death drumming. "Let Darkness Fall" is more prog-stoner metal feel. It got some kick ass riff through all the song, best for a good headbanging session. A bass solo in the interlude is most welcome. "Can't Kill The Devil" is finally a song that can be identified with one of the member's band, Testament.  Chuck Billy sing in the style of Testament of the The Soul of Black era and the song also representing that particular nostalgic element. Actually, most of the song try to match the singer with his/her style, or vice versa. Most notable is "Triangulum" epic which is divided to three movements. The band recreate most precise the thrash metal era in '80, almost Metallica - Ride the Lightning vibes. It's in instrumental setting with many guest guitarist join the party. The last song dedicated to the master of heavy metal, Dio. It is "We Rock" with six vocalist trying to lift up the song.

Metal Allegiance is awesome album with lot of muscular guitar riffs in front. The main style is thrash metal, followed by some Portnoy progressive metal drumming. The good news also, they represent much of the older guys music, in other words the '80s style of thrash metal. Fans of each musician will not upset because their heroes are exactly playing in what they expected to. Fantastic album created by , who again, Mark Menghi!

Metal Harem class : ********* eight stars out of ten

Metal Allegiance - Metal Allegiance (2015)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. Gift Of Pain
Vocals: D. Randall Blythe
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Gary Holt

02. Let Darkness Fall
Vocals: Troy Sanders
Lead, Rhythm & Acoustic Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums & Percussion: Mike Portnoy
Guest Bass: Mark Menghi & Rex Brown
Screams: D. Randall Blythe

03. Can't Kill The Devil
Vocals: Chuck Billy
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Phil Demmel & Andreas Kisser

04. Dying Song
Vocals: Philip H. Anselmo
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: Mark Menghi
Drums: Mike Portnoy

05. Scars
Vocals: Mark Osegueda & Cristina Scabbia
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy

06. Destination: Nowhere
Vocals: Matthew K. Heafy
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Matthew K. Heafy

07. Wait Until Tomorrow
Vocals: Doug Pinnick & Jamey Jasta
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums, Percussion & Additional Vocals: Mike Portnoy

8. Triangulum I. Creation Ii. Evolution Iii. Destruction (instrumental)
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Misha Mansoor, Ben Weinman, Charlie Benante, Phil Demmel, Matthew K. Heafy & Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

09. Pledge Of Allegiance
Vocals: Mark Osegueda
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Charlie Benante, Gary Holt & Andreas Kisser

10. We Rock (Dio Cover) (Deluxe Edition Only)
Vocals: Mark Osegueda, Chris Jericho, Tim "Ripper" Owens, Alissa White-Gluz, Chuck Billy &
Steve "Zetro" Souza
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Alex Skolnick
Bass: David Ellefson
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Guest Guitars: Andreas Kisser, Phil Demmel & Gary Holt


Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (2015)

The big day has come. Iron Maiden the sixteenth is here. The Book of Souls is the ambitious title for it. It is the most philosophical album title, more than Brave New World, A Matter of Life and Death or so. How the album going to preserve the legacy of Iron Maiden, we shall examine one by one.

First the album cover. It is in the trend of nowadays. Eddie in a big grinning selfie. Let's give it 8/10 contribution score.

Now the first song come off is "If Eternity Should Fail". A big surprise where Bruce Dickinson started with the naration. What is this , you asked? Is Iron Maiden trying to compete with Metallica's Lulu. I say, dare you not thinking that way. This is just the few opening verses , it is quite okay also, if you listen a lot more often. The song-part is actually exactly Iron Maiden style from their current years. The familiar galloping drums and basses, the theme melody and choruses is easy to grab. 9/10

The next is "Speed of Light", already released as a single few weeks before the full album. It serves as usual album's best song to comply with fans. We got fresh song opener with the main riffs that kind of 'rock n roll', and a cowbell . Catchy tempo, three way guitar solos and unusually happy feeling for the song, make this everybody's favorite. 9/10

Then come of course the commanding bass line opener and acoustic guitar arpeggiating it. Bruce's lyric in the "Winter softly falling to the grouUUUnd....." is just perfect dictating to the rest of the song. "The Great Unknown" it is and a great third song to be heard. 8/10

Now, "The Red and the Black" is hard to grab at first. Steve's dark acoustic bass play is bringing us back to The X Factor's Blood on the World's Hands reminiscence. The song is 13 minutes more. The first part got a huge hook into the Powerslaves era with its quick singing and galloping background. After five minutes the song switched to the second part , marked by "the red and the black ..." chorus, then the rest of the song dedicated to the guitarist to take on. Though it is can be shorter if not because of the repetition. 8/10

"When the River Runs Deep" is the only skip-able song. It is offered not much except the great Bruce Dickinson voices over some predictable structure. 6/10

Rather than that, "The Book of Souls" closed the first CD with 10 minutes arrangement. Same format, two parts, the first one is the best part because when Iron Maiden seriously matching the lyric to the music, it will also good. The second parts is the "improvisation", just to show that the companion still able to jam over 5 minutes excitement. 8/10

"Death or Glory" opened up the 2nd CD with a blaze, and this one quite straight forward, something that we always want Iron Maiden to do more often. 8/10

"Shadows of the Valley" is not bad either, the song remind us to many familiar tunes, so nothing surprising as per now. 7/10

Coming from Tears of the Dragon to "Tears of a Clown" is huge lap, but of course both are also light years away differences in context. The shortest song in the package, straight forward and nothing to complaint. As bonuses, the guitars solos see all guitarist nailed up each with different styles. 7/10

"The Man of Sorrows" is the second last song, intro summoned up the Children of the Damn vibes. But do we listen rarity here where Bruce's voice kind of struggling?  As the matter of fact, with many may questioned this, the record was done before Bruce got into his medical problem. 7/10

The finale of all, certainly "Empire of the Clouds". This is by far the most breakthrough song in Iron Maiden entire 30 years catalog. The intro is in pentatonic scale, melodious exotic theme. Bruce is playing the piano and a violin is the main leading voice. Grandeur built up so far due to this new experiment. This is the track need to be taken seriously, because rather relied on the same old music resources, Iron Maiden is now delved into new empire of music. Only some of Bruce Dickinson  solo stuffs came in something similar. As I said earlier, the singing parts is well done, we got the atmosphere. As in all other song, the orchestration covered the thin layer in the background. Of all 18 minutes, the majority spend in the musician playing meticulous arrangement. This is the chance to listen to over ten minutes instrumental that done by non progressive metal band. It's interesting to see Bruce Dickinson as the sole credit song writer of this song. So it's written by the vocalist rather the musician,  they are most probably composed on the paper rather than a product of jamming.  10/10

The Books of Souls is the natural continuation of Iron Maiden's musical journey. They no longer produce catchy song as in 2 Minutes to Midnight or Prowler. They have enough of that. In the past four albums or so (started in Brave New World), Iron Maiden begin to write song that have more pleasure in singing, rather than just listening alone. This new album is one of that kind. Songs are emotionally attached to music. With the new experiment in the last song, Iron Maiden challenge his fans to prepare for more musical swift in the future. This maybe not a smooth album for everyone, thus saying the transition always become ground of discussion. But in the end, we got eleven new Iron Maiden song to hum, not bad for millions of fans out there.

Metal Harem class: 7.9 / 10

Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (2015)
Buy it Here - Amazon

01. If Eternity Should Fail
02. Speed of Light
03. The Great Unknown
04. The Red and the Black
05. When the River Runs Deep
06. The Book of Souls

07. Death or Glory
08. Shadows of the Valley
09. Tears of a Clown
10. The Man of Sorrows
11. Empire of the Clouds

Bruce Dickinson - vocals
Nicko McBrain - Drums
Steve Harris - bass
Dave Murray - guitars
Janick Gers - guitars
Adrian Smith - guitars

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