Once again, on what started out as a VERY hot and humid day, I trekked myself into New York City for another show for the ages. This one took place at the Gramercy Theater, and featured Venom Inc. supporting the headliner – Metal Allegiance. Now if you’re not familiar with who Metal Allegiance is, let’s just say if metal music was a sport, this band would be their All-Star team. Backed by their very own “Core 4” comprised of Alex Skolnick on guitar, Mike Menghi AND David “Junior” Ellefson on the bass, and Mike Portnoy on drums while being fronted by numerous singers for various songs the band released their second album this month, “Power Drunk Majesty”. This was culminated with an amazing performance on Thursday night for a nearly sold out audience.
Upon arriving at the show the core members of the band were at their merch table signing CD’s and taking photos with anyone who was purchasing items. There was a very jovial feeling in the air and a lot of jokes and smiles going around with everyone involved. It was obvious that everyone was going to have a really good time tonight.
I missed out on the first two opening acts but what I did hear from when I walked in of Follow the Awakened sounded good for the brief few moments. I did manage to catch Weapons of Anew’s entire set. They did manage to entertain the fans as they were straggling in to the venue. Good songs with solid drumming and guitar work all interlaced with nice vocals. I’ll have to check them out another time to get a real feel for their music.
After they left the stage and the roadies started to prepare for Venom Inc.’s set there was a different feel in the air. It wasn’t the air conditioning either. It was the fact that the crowd was truly about to go wild. And sure enough they did. With their purely evil Avé backdrop behind them, they kicked into “Metal We Bleed” and set the audience into a mosh frenzy. Jeff “Mantas” Dunn, having recently recovered from heart surgery, provided a machine gun like guitar sound which melded with Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan’s bass and vocals and was further accented by the drum work of Jeramie Kling (who’s filling in from his duties in The Absence). They entertained the warmed up the crowd nicely during their short seven song setlist. Finishing it off with the classic tune “Witching Hour”.
Finally, about 10pm Metal Allegiance took to the stage. Alex Skolnick’s intro guitar riff to “Pledge of Allegiance” set the tone for the band to demolish the audience for the rest of the evening. Joining the stage show along with their “Core 4” was Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser on guitar and Death Angel’s Mark Osegueda on vocals for the first few songs. Skolnick and Kisser adeptly traded off solos all night. I had almost forgotten how underrated Andreas is on lead guitar. I won’t make that mistake again… Bobby “Blitz”, lead singer of Overkill, was next vocalist to enter into the fray. With a stunning rendition of “Rapid Fire” by Judas Priest and his own vocal track“Mother of Sin” off of Metal Allegiance’s new album.
The vocal merry-go-round continued on all night with Alissa White-Gluz, Trevor Strnad, John Bush, and Mark Tornillo all taking turns both with their own tracked songs for Metal Allegiance, along with some of their more famous songs with their own, and sometimes previous, bands.
A few notable items over the setlist were the inclusion of “Life in the Fast Lane” which was sung by both Alissa White-Gluz and Bobby Blitz. Along with “Room for One More”, which John Bush said he “Hadn’t sung in about 15 years”, both of which were not-shockingly masterfully pulled off.
I had seen the set list and REALLY wanted to stay until the end of the show but due to having to catch a train home I missed out on what were probably some of the loudest and best versions of “Aces High” and “Hit The Lights”. Luckily I’ve seen footage of these on Youtube, and I’m honestly disappointed that I had to miss them.
But then again when you assemble an all-star team of musicians of this caliber, it’s not shocking that everything they touch could become gold in a night.
Review and Photos by Bryan Bardes