Anyone not living under a rock, or ensconced in gaga-land, must have caught Mike Portnoy’s widely publicised and ignoble departure from his own dear creation, Dream Theater, on the 8th September 2010. He then went on to form a new band ‘Adrenaline Mob’ with Symphony X frontman Russell Allen, guitar virtuoso Mike Orlando (Sonic Stomp), bassist Paul DiLeo and Stuck Mojo/Fozzy guitarist Rich Ward. Di Leo and Ward soon left the band, to be replaced solely by John Moyer of Disturbed on bass.
With such a line-up we could be forgiven for expecting some good things from this band; at the very least some interesting music to wrap the more technically orientated parts of the mind around.
Unfortunately, it has to be said that their first release ‘Omerta’ (13th March 2012) falls very short of expectations.
Hilariously and accurately tagged as ‘midlife crisis metal’ on Last.Fm, Adrenaline Mob is described by Allen as an ‘edgy, modern kind’ of ‘straight-up rock’ ‘sounding almost like Rob Zombie meets Black Label Society meets Disturbed, with Dio singing’, ‘not progressive or trying to be too metal or anything’, the album as whole comes across as a cut-and-paste from the above artists, split into formulaic, clumsy structures that just jump from one style to another every few bars.
Allen does his very best at impersonating Dio (Devil rest his soul) throughout most of the album, but much of his attempt sounds unnatural and constrained. Portnoy’s contributions are unimaginative and never the focus of the music, a shame and odd respectively in the context of his reputation. Same goes for Moyer, whilst Orlando’s guitar work is serviceable for the most part but with regular smattering of extreme noodling.
The album starts with some promise, but hope begins to fade the first time the word ‘psychosane’ is used in the second track, before being completely eradicated by the Anselmo-inspired utterances of the same offensive verbal construct towards the track’s end. Much of the album, especially ‘Indifferent’, smacks of bitter feelings and teen angst, even more so in the context of Portnoy’s exit from Dream Theater. Mid-album, the track ‘Hit the Wall’ is amazingly accurately titled, whilst the final track, ‘Freight Train’ (the reward for sticking out the entire album) is frankly embarrassing. ‘Feelin’ Me’ is unintentionally hilarious, but not in a good way.
Overall, as a pop-rock album, the record is fairly solid, but you can’t help but feel that Portnoy has completely dropped the Dream Theater ethos of producing highly technical music, confident in its own quality, in favour of simplistic and accessible heavy pop. This makes us at Adrenochrome very sad pandas. Whilst it may be presumptuous to assume Portnoy holds the bulk of the creative control in the band, his over-dominance in Dream Theater is well known, leading him to be oft described as ‘the new Mustaine’. Unfortunately, Adrenaline Mob can in no way be described as ‘the new Megadeth’, and Adenaline Mob is unlikely to vindicate Portnoy as Megadeth did Mustaine. You also have to wonder what makes 2/5ths of a new band leave after a couple of months..
Having achieved number 5 on the Billboard Album Chart, its fair to say that the album has been and is likely to be fairly successful, but its important to remember that early Dream Theater and Symphony X were terribly unsuccessful by the ‘sales metric’ but at the same time terribly awesome by the ‘music quality metric’.
In summary, the album contains some good ideas, ideas which can last for as long as a few bars, but unfortunately each one of these good ideas is immediately followed by some poppy, noodley or gimmicky scree, rendering the whole album a bit of a slog. Final verdict: disappointing.
We leave you with a much more pleasing auditory interpretation of Omerta: