The major problem with so-called Super Groups is the weight of expectation and the truth that most fail to be anything close to the sum of their parts. When a band have members of Megadeth, Testament and a former Dream Theater drummer amongst their ranks, then expectations can quite reasonably be high.
In truth, I found the first Metal Allegiance album to be an enjoyable, but largely forgettable collection of songs and, seeing the track-listing of Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty, imagined this would be similar.
However, I was pleasantly surprised that Metal Allegiance’s second platter feels a far more coherent whole than it predecessor. The format is still the same, with guest vocalists adding their pipes to Metal Allegiance’s music. This time around, however, it all feels far more organic. When ‘Mother of Sin’, with Overkill’s Bobby Blitz on vocals, gives way to the Mark Tornillo of Accept-voiced ‘Terminal Illusion’, which in turn leads into Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg-fronted ‘King with a Paper Crown’ there is no jarring feeling or disjointedness. The later track even breaks with its ferocity at the half way point and the musicians jam out a riff, guitar, bass and drum all complementing each other before Alex Skoenick takes his strings off on a flights of delicate fancy, both soaring and melancholic.
Listening to Voodoo of Godsend you realise that the compositions on Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty are no afterthoughts. Max Cavalera isn’t just a mate drafted in to add vocals. Rather the track is built around his particular strengths, utilising the tribal rhythms Max is known for during his latter years with Sepultura and with Soulfly.
The album loses some momentum during the industrial-tinged Liars and Thieves, which doesn’t feel to have the depth of other tracks on the record and Impulse of Control doesn’t quite have the chops to bring it back.
Death Angel’s Mark Osegueda stays at the microphone for the first part of the two track title song, which closes out album and restores the overall drive. As part I gives way to part II we get Ellefson’s bass laying down a foundation reminiscent of Steve Harris in Rime of the Ancient Mariner, upon which Skoenick delivers some jazzy-harmonics. The final guest vocalist is Floor Jensen of Nightwish and in many ways she produces the most metal performance of all.
Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty is an enjoyable album, an improvement on their debut and provides a hours worth of music to remind you why you like metal in the first place. The performances are as tight as you would expect from a group of musicians as road-tested as Skoenick, Ellefson, Portnoy and Menghi. To compare it to the day-jobs of the individuals involved would be to do a disservice to the album itself and the Metal Allegiance project as a whole. I liked it and am thinking that maybe it’s time I went back and re-evaluated the debut.