Full disclosure: Unlike many out there, I was not familiar with the EP that Adrenaline Mob released last year. Honestly, I only got to know the band and its music once I received the album from Century Media for review. Of course, once I saw the world-class line-up, Russell Allen, Mike Portnoy and Mike Orlando I knew that I was in for one hell of a ride.
One of the biggest “problems” with super groups is that you’re bound to expect them to sound like something one of the members has done before. This is the case, for instance, with Sinergy (Children of Bodom with a female singer) and Demons & Wizards (mostly Blind Guardian, although Jon Schaffer does add something to it). There are only few exceptions, and Adrenaline Mob is one of them.
Omertá (the code of silence among members of the mafia, and which fits perfectly with both the name of the band and the visuals) is not a Symphony X or a Dream Theater album, it’s something completely different and unique.
The album includes all the songs that were featured in the self-titled EP (except for the incredible cover of “The Mob Rules”, and omission that I find hard to forgive) as well six new original tracks, including a cover of “Come Undone” by Duran Duran (an odd choice, I know) featuring Lizzy Hale (Halestorm) as guest singer.
“Undaunted”, the opening track, is just a perfect heavy metal tune that not only opens up your appetite, but also gives you a clear sign of things to come. It’s a catchy and straight-to-the-point piece that immediately highlights the skills and abilities of every one of the members, like Allen’s amazing range and Orlando’s frantic and powerful shredding. A similar formula is used in “Psychosane”, “Indifferent”, “Hit the Wall” (featuring an amazing guitar bridge) and “Feelin’ Me” (the heaviest track in the album, as well as my personal favorite).
It’s because of the overall power of this album that I was so surprised to encounter the power ballad “All on the Line”, that highlights Allen’s capacity to not only rock the hell out of you, but also to convey a plethora of feelings. Granted, the lyrics are nothing special (the usual “I messed up, I regret it, I’ll try to make it up to you”) but they’re delivered in such a flawless way (including a short solo by Orlando) that you can look past that.
The band did well to recruit Lizzy Hale to work with them in “Come Undone”. The combination of her voice and that of Russell Allen is incredibly powerful and, quite honestly, makes you forget the fact that the original has a melody that seems taken from an 80s porn flick. While the similarities with the original are obvious, Adrenaline Mob completely reinvented the song and updated it in a terrific way.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this is not a Dream Theater or Symphony X album. If you were expecting progressive songs, you’re definitely not going to find them here. Although Mike Orlando and Mike Portnoy perform in an absolutely perfect way, the music doesn’t give them the opportunity to show the abilities that made them famous (albeit the fast-paced playing in songs like “Believe me” and “Down To The Floor”) . This, however, is perfectly OK. When it comes to music, insane solos and machine-gun style drumming aren’t everything. It’s also about being able to combine everything and deliver a fine product. And, believe me, these guys did just that.