Metal Allegiance 2016

by Jesse Amazeen

To say Metal Allegiance is a super group would be an understatement. The touring lineup is composed of current and former members of legendary bands such as Megadeth, Death Angel, Testament, Dream Theater, and Mastodon. Indeed this band is the heavy metal hell-child of Bay Area thrash and progressive metal.

Born out of the longstanding friendships between bassist David Ellefson of Megadeth, guitarist Alex Skolnick of Testament, songwriter/bassist Mark Menghi, and drummer Mike Portnoy, formerly of Dream Theater.  The Allegiance got its start on the 2014 Motörboat cruise. They came together when Megadeth was forced to cancel their performance due to Dave Mustaine’s illness. Members of other bands on the boat, such as Pantera, Death Angel, and Anthrax  soon joined forces to fill the vacant headlining slot, and Metal Allegiance was born.

Not long after, they released their fledgling self-titled album on Nuclear Blast Records, and the rest as they say, is music history.

Sunday’s show at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco was the final date of their 2016 West Coast tour. This brief, four show stint started on January 7th in San Diego, then moved on to Las Vegas and Los Angeles before finishing up in San Francisco, the city where thrash metal was born, on January 10th.

The show opened with Doll Skin, a high energy all-female hard rock band from Arizona, ripping through a quick set of tunes including a searing, guitar-driven cover of Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited”. Signed to David Ellefson’s EMP Label Group, this quartet of teenaged rock prodigies released their first EP, “In Your Face” in October of 2015.

Next up was San Diego’s premier traditional metal outfit, CAGE. With riffs and stage presence reminiscent of Judas Priest, CAGE performed a crushing set as they blazed through songs like “Metal Devil”, and “Hell Destroyer”. With almost 25 years as a band, it’s obvious that experience counts, and as such, their performance was nearly flawless. Singer Sean Peck delivered the goods, belting out glass shattering screams comparable to metal gods like Rob Halford and King Diamond.

In short order, Metal Allegiance took the stage amidst a roar from the crowd, and began their sonic assault with a blazing cover of Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye”, complete with “The Hellion” intro. Death Angel vocalist Mark Osegueda handled the vocal duties on this track, as well as the majority of the setlist. Troy Sanders of Mastodon soon took over the mic though, for a spot-on cover of Metallica’s “Creeping Death”, followed by two more Metal Allegiance originals, “Can’t Kill the Devil”, and “Let Darkness Fall”.

Guitarist Phil Demmel of Machine Head was in rare form as well, pumping out chunky rhythms behind Osegueda’s commanding vocals on Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell”, and trading leads with Skolnick through back-to-back covers of Accept’s “Fast as a Shark”, and crowd favorite “Balls to the Wall”. Mike Portnoy’s pounding percussion was nothing short of brilliant on the latter.

Skolnick then took center stage with his own version of Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein” guitar for “Eruption”, with tone, precision, and attitude easily on par with Eddie’s best performances.

Given the recent passing of Motörhead vocalist and bassist Lemmy Kilmister, it was only natural that a medley of Motörhead classics was in order, and the band’s passion for these songs was unmistakable. But, before launching into “Killed by Death”, a tearful Osegueda had the gut-wrenching job of announcing to the crowd that singer David Bowie had just passed, eliciting sobs and heavy sighs from every corner of the venue.

Soldiering on with renewed dedication, the Metal Allegiance finished out their set by inviting Machine Head bassist Jared MacEachern onstage for a brutal rendition of Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy”, complete with a pre-song birthday celebration and a pie in the face for Menghi.

Review and Video by Jesse Amazeen

Photos by Alan Snodgrass

Setlist:

1. The Hellion (Judas Priest cover)
2. Electric Eye (Judas Priest cover)
3. The Ides of March (Iron Maiden cover)
4. Creeping Death (Metallica cover)
5. Can’t Kill the Devil
6. Let Darkness Fall
7. Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath cover)
8. Territory (Sepultura cover)
9. Dying Song
10. Fast as a Shark (Accept cover)
11. Balls to the Wall (Accept cover)
12. Lord of This World (Black Sabbath cover)
13. Into the Void (Black Sabbath cover)
14. Runnin’ With the Devil (Van Halen cover)
15. Eruption (Van Halen cover)
16. Pledge of Allegiance
17. Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC cover)
18. Killed by Death (Motörhead cover)
19. Iron Fist (Motörhead cover)
20. Overkill (Motörhead cover)
21. Ace of Spades (Black Sabbath cover)
22. Seek & Destroy (Metallica cover)

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