Metal Allegiance are a collective of well-known metal musicians who have jammed together at live events over the past few years. Now, they have released their self-titled debut album.

The core of the band is made up of bassist David Ellefson (Megadeth), drummer Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs), guitarist Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Mark Menghi. Skolnick and Portnoy are on every song on the album, and Ellefson appears on all but one. The rest of the lineup is a rotating all-star cast.

Having that core of musicians makes Metal Allegiance sound more cohesive instead of like a compilation album. That’s a challenge with so many different influences and styles being brought to the table. The album gets off to an extreme start with “Gift of Pain.” Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe lends his aggressive vocals to the proceedings, with Exodus/Slayer guitarist Gary Holt also making an appearance on the track.

The songs are fairly lengthy, ranging from around five to almost eight minutes along. That gives the guests room to shine. In an interesting move, the longest song on the album is actually the instrumental “Triangulum” that features guest guitar from Ben Weinman (Dillinger Escape Plan), Matt Heafy (Trivium), Bumblefoot, Misha Mansoor (Periphery) and Phil Demmel (Machine Head) and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante showing off his axe technique.

There are some interesting vocal pairings on Metal Allegiance. “Scars” features Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) and Mark Osegueda (Death Angel). Scabbia is used to a co-lead vocalist, but the addition of Osegueda’s rougher thrash style makes for a compelling combination.

Another duo that really clicks is Dug Pinnick (Kings X) and Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) on “Wait Until Tomorrow.” The smooth tones of Pinnick contrast with Jasta’s bark and works well on the moderately paced song, which is an album highlight. Another high point is “Let Darkness Fall,” a catchy song featuring Troy Sanders from Mastodon. It has an extended proggy instrumental jam along with heavier and more direct riffs.

Others vocalists appearing on the album include Chuck Billy (Testament), Philip Anselmo and Heafy. The deluxe edition includes “We Rock” with Osegueda, Chris Jericho (Fozzy), Tim “Ripper” Owens, Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Billy and Zetro Souza (Exodus).

Metal Allegiance is a fun and interesting experiment that for the most part works. Not every song is a home run and there are some self-indulgent moments, but overall the collective’s chemistry is rock solid and the high points far overshadow any bumps in the road.

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