Until this evening, the biggest news coming out of Disneyland this week has been the vacation-ruining measles outbreak that has cast an itchy, eye-watering pall over the Happiest Place On Earth. Tonight the mayhem rises exponentially as a platoon of legends descends on the House Of Blues – tucked deep in the heart of downtown Disney – for another riotous all-star jam.
Formerly billed as the Metal Masters series of clinics and concerts, the metal collective have rebranded as the Metal Allegiance, boasting largely the same lineup: Frank Bello, Charlie Benante and Scott Ian (Anthrax), Chuck Billy and Alex Skolnick (Testament), David Ellefson (Megadeth), Chris Broderick (ex-Megadeth), Gary Holt (Slayer), Rex Brown (Pantera, Kill Devil Hill) and Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs).
Tonight features the inaugural appearances of Andreas Kisser (Sepultura), Mark Osegueda (Death Angel), John Tempesta (The Cult) and Troy Sanders (Mastodon)./o:p
Scott Ian’s had ample opportunity to hone his chops as a public speaker, dotting the past year with interactive spoken-word dates. He now saunters out with a tall can of lager and regales the house with profanely amusing accounts of being approached by strangers who recognise him, while having zero idea who he is (“The singer of Anthrax”, “The guy in that band” and vexingly “The guy from System Of A Down”). In view of the prodigious amount of alcohol flowing through the joint, it’s rather impressive that Scott holds the crowd in rapt attention for the better part of 15 minutes./o:p
New York crossover thrashers Stormtroopers Of Death, aka S.O.D., have never slipped their cult status, even though bandmembers Scott Ian and Charlie Benante would later form Anthrax. Tonight, with Frank Bello on bass and Troy Sanders on vox, Scott and Charlie resurrect their old project with a blazing triumvirate from S.O.D.’s debut, including March Of The S.O.D. and Freddy Krueger. Perhaps to prove his overall fitness in his Metal Allegiance induction, Troy blasts out a few push-ups in front of the drum kit before launching into the vocals.
Alex Skolnick and David Ellefson tag in next for Judas Priest’s Rapid Fire, Alex clipping out the chunky staccato opening as Mark Osegueda takes over vocals. Throughout the evening, musicians will swap places and instruments with such frequency that we rarely see the same band configuration for more than a song or two. Chris Broderick and Rex Brown are out now and Alex and Chris ease into the rhapsodic intro to Victim Of Changes before the band kick into a muscular siege of rafter-taxing riffage./o:p
The setlist unfolds as a tribute to seminal acts, with anthems from the likes of Priest, Thin Lizzy, Ozzy and Maiden. While the appearance of surprise guests like Exodus’s Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza or legendary Dio bassist Jimmy Bain arouses thunderous approval from the fans, no personnel change tonight is met with as much joy as when Chris Broderick and David Ellefson step out from opposite sides of the stage. The crowd seize on the significance of the moment as they meet halfway across the stage for a hug.
Chuck Billy leading Andreas and the members of Anthrax in Sepultura’s Attitude may well be the high point, a feral showcase of such wall-trembling potency that even the besieged bar staff pause to witness the carnage. The Zetro-fronted version of Exodus’s Piranha also stands out, due in no small part to the rhythmic shelling of three drummers – Exodus timekeeper Tom Hunting, Portnoy and Benante.
As the show draws to a close, Troy – in green facepaint – rallies the band through Runnin’ With The Devil, with his brother Kyle on bass. Alex then channels a jaw-dropping exaltation of Van Halen’s Eruption, whirling about in a frenzy of blurred-finger tapping and thunderous dive-bombs.
The entire ensemble close proceedings with more favourites including Highway To Hell and Cold Gin. Everyone’s sad to see the night end, but cheered by the news that preparations for next year’s Metal Allegiance gig are already underway. Let the countdown begin!/o:p
FINAL VERDICT: 9⁄10
Andreas Kisser, Gary Holt, Chris Broderick and Mike Portnoy having a blast