Producer: Alex Skolnick and Mark Menghi
Studio: Spin Studios, Long Island City, NY
Expect: An all-out metal assault from metal's own Avengers
The Marvel Cinematic Universe may be the biggest crossover in cinematic history, but when it comes to heavy metal, that title fittingly belongs to Metal Allegiance. Three years after the release of their debut, which featured a host of some of our most beloved names, Hammer catches up with project mastermind Mark Menghi to get the insight on what we can all expect from phase two.
So, the new Metal Allegiance album! What’s the latest? You’ve just finished in the studio, haven’t you?
“Yeah, we’re done! The record is done and submitted and it went great.”
Would you say the recording and creative process has been more straightforward this time round?
“We did this one a little differently. Alex [Skolnick, Testament guitarist] and I started writing together on New Year’s Day of January 2017 in Brooklyn, New York. We wrote the first two songs that day, then he and I went down to Mike Portnoy’s house and we wrote the song Down By Silence (which John Bush [Anthrax/Armored Saint] is on), plus Mother Of Sin (the track Bobby Blitz of Overkill is on), Terminal Illusion (which features Mark Tornillo of Accept), plus Power Drunk Majesty parts one and two, which is one long song!"
“Yeah! We wrote all that and The Accuser. That was all done in just four days. Creatively, we just gel and it all fell into place – there was no struggle writing music. These singers, they just kill it. I remember when I gave the lyrics to John Bush and I told him the story behind them, he sent back his first demo and I was completely blown away! I didn’t even have to tell him what to do – he sang the song exactly how I’d envisioned it. There was never any arguing, never a single fight, it was very easy working with all the vocalists, it was a pleasurable process. No issues at all. And I like to think we have delivered the best possible result working with all these musicians.”
With such an extensive list of guests on this record, how difficult was it to bring them in to the studio?
“Believe it or not, getting the guest vocalists is the easiest part of the process. With me being the lyricist – I guess you can call me the ‘chief lyricist’, if you will – I wrote about 80% of the lyrics on the album. The hard part is actually finding the right phrasing that fits these singers’ vocal styles. For example, Bobby Blitz and Troy Sanders from Mastodon – two completely different singers, completely different vocalists – and yet I’m writing the lyrics for both of them. I kind of had to stop and think, ‘How would Blitz sing this? How would Troy sing this? How would Trevor [Strnad, The Black Dahlia Murder] sing this? How would Mark sing this?’ So, that’s really the hardest part. I know what the story is, I know what the lyrics are because I wrote them, but how is it going to fit their vocal capabilities? To me that’s the hardest part of the process.”
Do you have a bucket list of people you would really like to bring into the Metal Allegiance fold one day? Who’s at the top?
“I always say James Hetfield. If he is reading or listening, give me a buzz! He is the one guy we would love to have. Him or someone like Rob Halford, but it comes down to timing. With this record, we didn’t even think about reaching out to people like that because they were either in the studio or on tour so we knew who would be impossible. When we’re writing we don’t know who is going to do what so it’s just a matter of who do we think would sound best for the song. One of the people that we really wanted but thought would be impossible was Max Cavalera, and it worked out! For me, that’s a big one – I’m a huge Sepultura and Soulfly fan, and to have Max and Andreas Kisser on the same record, to me, that’s a step in the right direction!”
So when can we expect this new album to see the light of day?
“It comes out September 7! The release date is set. We’re excited about what people are going to think.”