METAL ALLEGIANCE Rocks NAMM – House of Blues

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Mark Menghi

It’s late January.  The music industry descends on Orange County, California.  It’s the four day event that turns the capital of family entertainment into -aheim.  Manufacturers of things musical, from guitar picks to amp cabinets are filling the Anaheim Convention Center to show off their latest technologies and shiniest new objects.  Musicians also stream in from all points on the compass.  They spend their days manning sponsor’s booths, talking with players of all levels, posing for pictures with fans and reconnecting with old friends.  By night however, any building containing an electrical outlet is hosting some kind of live music, and the pros who attend the annual convention are no exception.  On Thursday evening, , the part time super group founded a mere three and a half years ago, invaded the Anaheim House of Blues for its now annual homage to metal.

The first act on the bill, , a quintet out of Los Angeles kicks off the affair.  The group is made up of SirDwight Tashibish on vocals, Sergio Javier and Eddie Solana on guitars, Justin Ellis on bass and Silvestre Rojas on drums.  They soldier through an energetic set played to a slowly filling floor as most attendees are still waiting to clear security.  The room is a bit more full as  L.A. industrial hard rock five piece , fronted by charismatic singer Margarita Monet, treats the growing crowd to a six song set of original music.  is rounded out by founding member Dave Bates as well as David Ruiz on guitars, while Nick Ericson and John Chominsky form the rhythm section on bass and drums respectively.  Next is , an unsigned L.A. quartet, featuring singer Kalen Chase, who formerly toured with Korn as a backup singer and percussionist.  The balance of the group is Eli Ruben on guitar, Shannon Bizzy on bass and Greg Collister on drums.  Their set is very animated and enjoyable, in spite of the singer’s proclivity for over-sharing.

The cream of the under-card is ’s Nuclear Blast label mate, .  Fronted by its namesake as lead singer, the gothic/shock rock quintet grinds through an entertaining set of hard-core rock.  roams the stage, exhibiting his theatrical persona while barking out eerie themed, maybe predictable, but charming-all-the-same lyrics.  employs a few props, the most notable of which is an umbrella with a giant middle finger graphic on it, which he puts to use for the set finale, I Love to Say Fuck.  The instrumentalists for the conclave are very adept at making the wall of noise that is an appropriate backdrop for the storytelling.  Roman Surman on lead guitar provides searing guitar sounds, while Jake Tankersley lays down the deeper background guitar work.  Troy Doebbler grinds out the bottom on bass and Kyle Castronovo is the the one keeping time on the drum-kit.

It’s now 10:00 p.m., and the crowd is ready to pledge allegiance to the main attraction.  Allegiance is defined as loyalty or devotion to a person, group or cause.  takes up the cause and thrills the devoted and loyal metal-heads who now fill the cramped floor of the House of Blues.  The list of members is a veritable who’s who of metal.  Alex Skolnick, guitar and Chuck Billy, vocals, both from Testament are on the stage as the set begins.  They are accompanied by M.A. founding member Mark Menghi on bass, Andreas Kisser of

Mike Portnoy

Sepultura on guitar and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, Winery Dogs, Sons of Apollo on drums.  Portnoy would handle the skins for the entire set.  The second song of the set is a M.A. original, Can’t Kill the Devil from it’s forthcoming second album, the appropriately titled Metal Allegiance II.  The collection of pedigreed players entering and leaving the stage is like a revolving door at the Metal Awards, if there is such a thing.  David Ellefson of Megadeth, joins on bass, Mark Osegueda of Death Angel enters the fray, then joined by Overkill’s Bobby Blitz and the two share a vocal duet on a show highlight, Judas Priest’s Grinder, along with Gary Holt of Exodus and most recently Slayer on guitar.  Armored Saint’s John Bush takes the mic for a few songs, one being another highlight, UFO’s Lights Out, which is preceded by a brief cameo from the guru of metal and ultimate UFO fan, Eddie Trunk.  (This writer is revealing his age and tastes as to the highlights of the show, while others in attendance may have differing opinions).

David Ellefson

Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil and Nita Strauss of Alice Cooper Band fame also made appearances for the event.  With a roster as large as this, it’s difficult to make sure nobody is left out.  They probably should have sold programs outside the venue.  Programs! Programs! Can’t tell the players without a program!  One thing’s for sure, even if the players got a little bit convoluted, allegiance was definitely on display from all of the performers.

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Hit the Lights – Metallica cover

Can’t Kill the Devil

Mandatory Suicide – Slayer cover

Fast as a Shark – Accept cover

Grinder – Judas Priest cover

Elimination – Overkill cover

Mother of Sin

Room for One More – Slayer cover

Bound by Silence

Lights Out – U.F.O. cover

Into the Pit – Testament cover

Refuse/Resist – Sepultura cover


Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – Black Sabbath cover

Bonded by Blood – Exodus cover

Prowler – Iron Maiden cover

Metal Militia – Metallica cover

Pledge of Allegiance

Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden cover


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