Metal Allegiance, a band that could be called a “super-duper group,” played their annual NAMM show at the House of Blues in Anaheim on January 24th. M.A. is the brainchild of Mark Menghi, a music industry executive and bassist. Menghi is one of the “core 4”, along with Alex Skolnick of Testament, David Ellefson of Megadeth and Mike Portnoy of Sons of Apollo, Winery Dogs and The Neal Morse Band as well as a founding member of Dream Theater. More than just a super group, the lineup for the NAMM shows is somewhat of a super mob. M.A. pays homage to their metal roots and influences as they bring in a dozen or so of their closest friends to jointly bang the audience’s heads.
The first act on the bill is a four piece metal outfit from New York City, Metalfier. This Gotham quartet is made up of Andrew Janda on lead vocals and guitar, Jeff Monge on bass, Christian Cos on guitar and Chris Vegas on drums. They tear through a quick set of straight forward, metal grinders that is highlighted by Devil Inside My Head. Next up is a repeat performer from last year’s show. Superfix, a five member troupe from Los Angeles plays what seems like a bit of a harder and more polished
set than last year. Front man Kalen Chase handles vocals, Eli Rubin and guest performer Logan Mader handle guitar duties. Greg Collister drums and guest performer Damien Rainaud bass round out the quintet on this evening. Upstate New York’s Held Hostage rounds out the warm up acts. Formed in the early 80’s, they deliver a hard-edged, rock program that harkens back to the hair metal days, with an early 90’s grunge look. Tom Collier is the lead guitarist and founding member. Scott Gregg is the rhythm guitarist, Giorgio Mongelli plucks the bass and Carl Canedy pounds the drums. Mike Santarsiero is the lead singer.
The band has a mission to help people through their music. Their set features a song which they recorded with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals, Show Me The Way Back Home, the band donates part of the proceeds from this song to veteran’s organizations.
Metal Allegiance takes the stage with Menghi, donning a long, brown, curly wig, which he would remove and throw to the audience when his initial segment ends. Accompanying him are Skolnick and Portnoy, and Mark Osegueda (Death Angel), the first of six vocalists who will wail at the human sardine can, which is the floor of the Anaheim venue. The four on stage rip into the foreboding intro to Black Sabbath, the opening track of the namesake band’s debut album. MA will essentially turn the auditorium into the House of Black as they thrill the horn throwers by playing the entire record. Mark Tornillo (Accept) enters to impart the lyrics of The Wizard. Bobby Blitz (Overkill) takes the vocal reigns for the remainder of the Sabbath rendering, and as few can, insults the audience into better participation. But it is a metal show after all and the crowd seems to bear no ill will
toward him for it. After offering what some would say is the first heavy metal record on the altar, Chuck Billy (Testament) enters and takes over the mic for a few numbers, starting with the MA’s Can’t Kill The Devil. Ushered in with Billy are Andreas Kisser (Sepultura), Phil Demmel (Machine Head) and Ellefson. The door revolves rapidly moving forward and players enter and exit the stage with great haste.
Eloy Casagrande (Sepultura) sits on the drum stool for one number. Trevor Strnad (Black Dahlia Murder) sings a few numbers, John Bush (Armored Saint) takes a few as well as Steve “Zetro” Souza (Exodus) takes one lap around the vocal track. Other appearances from Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) and Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein (Doyle, Misfits) also make brief appearances. Unless someone was missed, that looks like about 16 artists to grace the stage for a set of that contained a classic hard rock album, a few MA originals and covers from the likes of Slayer, Dio, Anthrax, Sepultura and Exodus. The evening culminates in an encore of two Iron Maiden tunes, Aces High and an all performer version of The Trooper. With that the Metal Allegiance collective turn the crowd loose to head back to their hotels and grab a few hours of sleep before heading to the NAMM show to hopefully rub elbows with their metal heroes.
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