There are gigs that just slot into your calendar for a fun night out, and then there’s those gigs where you know you’ve seen something you won’t ever forget.  This year marked Metal Allegiance‘s third annual gig in Anaheim, a night of classic metal cover songs and special guests, and we were there.

The gig started with three opening acts – Forgotten Legions, Edge Of Paradise Superfix, all of which showcased unique flair and passion for the local Californian metal scene. After that, the iconic Wednesday 13 put in the final opening set, full of atmosphere and make up. By this it was ten o clock and some in the audience were nervous that union rules may see the gig end at eleven.  Others were of a similar vintage to those on stage, and just worried they’d make it through.  On the other hand, there was a father and son who looked about eight at the barrier.  There was a lot of talk on stage about the allegiance between the whole metal community, and that was very evident in the crowd.

The show started with Testament’s Chuck Billy singing Metalica‘s “Hit The Lights”, followed by a Metal Allegiance original “Can’t Kill The Devil”.  From there, it was a joyous romp through the canon of metal.  It was rare for the intro to mention who the band was, although Eddy Trunk out in a UFO shirt and kept pointing at it before the band played lights out.  Other early metal songs included Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, sung by Overkill‘s Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth.

Blitz and Armored Saint’s John Bush were both new additions to the metal allegiance family. Bush was a highlight of the night, singing Anthrax rarity “Room For One More” for the first time in fifteen years, and treating us to a sneak peek of the forthcoming sophomore Metal Allegiance record, and a song he appears on.  Blitz also performed a track from the new cd and both were excellent.

The other guests included Lacuna Coil‘s Cristina Scabbia, who came out and sang several times throughout the night, but for the most part mostly looked in total awe to be a part of such a night. A surprise addition to the star-studded lineup was Nita Strauss, legendary guitarist for Alice Cooper among others, surprising everyone when she ran out to play Iron Maiden’s “Prowler”.

The night was a catalogue of the music we love.  Not everyone knew the words to every song, but most of us knew them all.  Things got thrashy with Testament’s “Into The Pit” and Sepultura’s “Refuse/Resist” with Sepultura’s own Andreas Kisser, who featured very prominently throughout the night. There was not much of a mosh, but a lot of head-banging.  No one seemed to be trying this as a run of the mill gig. Death Angel’s Mark Osegueda brought in pledge your allegiance with a speech reminding us we’re all part of the metal family. The legendary Gary Holt of Exodus and Slayer fame, melted faces with his insane shred abilities and capacity to make even Testament’s Alex Skolnick look at him with an impressed response.

The founding four members of Skolnick, Mark Menghi, Megadeth’s David Ellefson and iconic drum virtuoso Mike Portnoy were regularly seen rotating themselves throughout the setlist, with no signs of strain or loss of excitement throughout. This was especially evident in Portnoy, who single-handedly conquered the drums for the 20-track setlist, a true testament to his ability as a musician.

The kid at the barrier got a lot of attention from photographers and the band, and was brought on stage for the final song, and sent to give people drumsticks and shirts.  He and his father were thrilled, and it was a great reminder of the new generation coming in and the strong future this music has.

The final song was one everyone knew, Iron Maiden’s “Number Of The Beast”.  All the guests came out and took turns signing and playing, and brought the night to a rapturous close.  Seeing so many legends of our scene come together to play some of our genre’s biggest songs was a night we will never forget.  We are already planning to attend next year.  They may need a bigger venue…