Back when this supergroup was formed by drum-animal Mike Portnoy and Russell Allen, most people expected that it would be epic and prog-oriented. The band’s first EP shattered these predictions, offering us a modern metal/hard rock release with strong links to grunge and alternative. Although unexpected, both the EP and the debut album Omertà were praised for their energy and musicianship. After Mike Portnoy announced his departure from the band in order to focus on his other bands and projects, there was some doubt as to whether the band would be determined enough to deliver a worthy successor to the debut. The result does not disappoint.
The sound on Men of Honor is more mature and the lineup seems more solidified than on the previous record, complementing each other as if they had been playing together for decades. The arrangements are much more varied, not too complex yet enough to showcase the musician’s extraordinary talents. Russell Allen is still the strongest link in the band, and if it weren’t for him I honestly doubt I’d be coming back to the record anytime soon.
Genre-wise, Men of Honor is somewhat cheesy alternative/post grunge (along with the obnoxious yarling in “Feel the Adrenaline”) but with evident early-80’s heavy metal/hard rock accents. The band draws influence from some of the most popular contemporary bands Stone Sour or Foo Fighters (“Dearly Departed” sounds like it had been cooked in Dave Grohl’s kitchen). Adrenaline Mob balance between the traditional and modern, at the same time parrying contemporary bands like Five Finger Death Punch with “Come On, Get Up” while staying true to their metal roots, delivering some pure-blooded old-school rock in “Mob is Back.”
Mike Portnoy’s absence is hardly noticeable, due to A.J. Pero’s outstanding performance and the much improved drum sound. While Pero, of Twisted Sister fame, probably comes nowhere near Portnoy’s stellar skill and versatility, his simple yet powerful approach is just what this album needed.