Written by Alex Stojanovic
Bound By Silence
Mother Of Sin
King With A Paper Crown
Voodoo Of The Godsend
Liars & Thieves
Power Drunk Majesty (Part I)
Power Drunk Majesty (Part II)
Release Date: September 7, 2018
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Mark Menghi - Bass / Alex Skolnick - Guitars / David Ellefson - Bass / Mike Portnoy - Drums
Trevor Strnad (Black Dahlia Murder) / John Bush (Armored Saint) / Mark Osegueda (Death Angel) / Max Cavalera (Soulfly)
Mark Tornillo (Accept) / Floor Jansen (Nightwish) / Troy Sanders (Mastodon) / Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth)
Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (Overkill) / Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper) / Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) / Joe Satriani
What the band did differently this time around was scale down the cast of characters appearing on the album. A different vocalist would still appear on each song, but the amount of guest guitarists decreased drastically from nine to three. Joining the core 4 (Menghi, Skolnick, Ellefson and Portnoy) this time around, is a whole new cast like Trevor Strnad or Black Dahlia Murder, John Bush of Armored Saint, Bobby Blitz of Overkill, Floor Jansen of Nightwish, Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth, Mark Tornillo of Accept, and Max Cavalera of Soulfly, as well as some returning guests from the first album, like Mark Osegueda of Death Angel, Andreas Kisser of Sepultura and Troy Sanders of Mastodon. Nita Strauss of Alice Cooper's band is one of the new guitarists appearing on the album, and for the first time, teacher and student appear on the same record, as Joe Satriani also makes an appearance, who Skolnick was a student of during his teenage years.
The record begins on a vicious note with "The Accuser", featuring Trevor Strnad. Beginning slow with heavy power chords accompanied by a tapping lead, anticipation for what's to come builds, then accelerates into a full-throttle thrash assault with adrenaline-inducing riffs. Being known for his gutteral style in Black Dahlia Murder, Trevor surprises us all with his vocals on this track, beacuse he heads into more of a gruff thrash voice in the style of early Mille Petrozza from the Pleasure To Kill era, with a slight hint of death growls. The thrash doesn't stop there, as we also get tracks like "Mother Of Sin" with Bobby Blitz, and "Impulse Control" with Mark Osegueda. The intensity levels of Skolnick's guitar tone seem to have been raised a few notches since the first album. His tone sounds more thicker and punchier on this album, and that really emphasizes the already monstrous riffs.
On "King With A Paper Crown", featuring Johan Hegg, it doesn't sound like he's the only vocalist here. If you listen to the chorus, it sounds like Mark Osegueda is adding his unmistakable high-pitched voice in the background. While a fantastic heavy track with killer riffs, I was sort of hoping we would get to see Johan spread his wings vocally for once. We all know he's got one of the best growls in the business, but it would be awesome to hear what else he could do with his voice. Another highlight is "Terminal Illusion", featuring Mark Tornillo with a ruthless chugging riff accompanied by some solid double-bass from Portnoy. Tornillo dominates the track with his razor-sharp vocals, and he lets out some ear-piercing high notes.
The track that takes a significantly different direction is "Voodoo Of The Godsend", featuring Max Cavalera. The drum intro and the chanting section in the middle are very tribal sounding, where they almost remind me of something you would hear on Sepultura's Roots. This would also be the first time in over 20 years that Max and Andreas Kisser are on the same record. As Portnoy jokingly put it, it's "a nice first step towards world peace." Following this track, we head right back into some classic straightforward metal riffing on "Liars & Thieves", a mid-tempo pounder with a crowd-chanting chorus, sung by Troy Sanders. The track however takes an unexpected left turn into mosh territory in the middle with Slayer-inspired thrash riffing. This track and "Bound By Silence" with John Bush, prove that the band haven't forgotten about groove, and will have zero issues getting heads banging.
We now arrive at the end of the album with the two-part title track. The first part is sung by Mark Osegueda where he sounds like he's channeling his inner Chuck Billy as he spits out some political lyrics. Just try not to have Iron Maiden in your head during the bass riff at the end. The second part, which closes the album is sung by Floor Jansen, and she takes the track to another level with her captivating melodic vocals. While the two tracks are fantastic in their own way, I think it would've been interesting if they fused the two songs into one and had the track be a duet between Osegueda and Jansen. The result with the two vocalists trading off each other and harmonizing would be pretty amazing, given their individual vocal talents.
Musically, the first album was incredibly diverse with a bunch of metal styles being represented, where the new album is more of a thrash album, but it's still eclectic and every song sounds different from the previous. For everyone that enjoyed the first album, Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty is a spectacular follow-up with masterful songwriting and another great diverse lineup of special guests, all creating an exciting and heavy thrill-ride. The only thing I wish for right now, is for Metal Allegiance to try and make a show in Toronto happen! I'm looking forward to picking this album up on release day.
Highs: Each track stands out in its own way, but the ones that stand out the most include "The Accuser", "Bound By Silence", "Terminal Illusion", "Liars & Thieves" and the title track (both parts).
Lows: Nothing to really complain about, other than a couple of choruses weren't as captivating as others.
Final Rating: 9.5/10
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