Adrenaline Mob – EP (2011)

Posted: August 9, 2011 in Movies

Think you’ve had bad days? Don’t tell that to Mike Portnoy.

As the drummer – and arguably the driving force – behind progressive metal’s most iconic band Dream Theater, Portnoy had spent the last 25 years building a legacy saved for only the greatest drummers in music.

Yet, his heart – not his skill – called him to fill in for Avenged Sevenfold on drums during their 2010 tour – a tour that was jeopardized by the death of drummer James “The Rev” Sullivan in December of 2009. Knowing the style of A7X, and the subsequent complications of their drum parts, Portnoy volunteered his talents to the band to get them through the most difficult time of their career. With Dream Theater in between albums, Avenged Sevenfold – pro tem drummer in tow – had one of the most successful tours of the year, partially due to Portnoy’s fans coming out in droves.

It was a situation that was temporary from the get-go, which both sides understood. Yet, a funny thing happened along the way…

When Portnoy returned to the Dream Theater camp in late 2010, his locker had been essentially cleaned out. In what became one of the biggest shakeups in the history of heavy metal, Portnoy simply stated the following:

“Dream Theater was always my baby…and I nurtured that baby every single day and waking moment of my life since 1985…24/7, 365…never taking time off from DT’s never-ending responsibilities (even when the band was “off” between cycles)…working overtime and way beyond the call of duty that most sane people ever would do for a band….But I’ve come to the conclusion that the DT machine was starting to burn me out…and I really needed a break from the band in order to save my relationship with the other members and keep my DT spirit hungry and inspired.

We have been on an endless write/record/tour cycle for almost 20 years now (of which I have overseen EVERY aspect without a break) and while a few months apart from each other here & there over the years has been much needed and helpful, I honestly hoped the band could simply agree with me to taking a bit of a ‘hiatus’ to recharge our batteries and ‘save me from ourselves’…

Sadly, in discussing this with the guys, they determined they do not share my feelings and have decided to continue without me rather than take a breather…I even offered to do some occasional work throughout 2011 against my initial wishes, but it was not to be…”

So Mike had lost the Dream Theater gig, but what about all those successful shows with A7X?

Unfortunately, knowing the relationship was a temporary one, M. Shadows and Synyster Gates had already begun the process of finding a new, permanent drummer for the band – one which they simply couldn’t go back on. Even though Portnoy was willing to sign on full-time, it was too late.

So 2011 began with one of the most creative, talented drummers in all of music without a stage to perform on. Anger exhumed from the fans. Lawyers became involved. But Portnoy decided the best avenue was to get back to doing what he knew best – pounding the hell out of the drumkit.

Which brings us (finally) to Adrenaline Mob – an all-star cast of metal renaissance men hellbent on kicking your ass into 2012 and beyond. Portnoy has joined forces with legendary frontman Russell Allen of Symphony X fame and American guitar virtuoso Mike Orlando to create a new project of less progressive, more ferocious metal. The band had originally not planned on releasing anything until early 2012, but after an offer to open Godsmack’s fall tour and a beyond successful live performance at the Hire Ballroom in New York in late June, the band decided to wet the collective whistle with this 5-song EP released August 9th.

Reviewing EPs is not the norm at The Nutwork – in fact, this is our first one – as the EP format is usually done either to sell out a single or to get a band between one bad album to the next. Neither is the case here, so we’re smashing the pattern and giving this the track-by-track treatment usually saved for full length albums. This was a good enough exception to break the rules…

“Psychosane” kicks of this short but sweet effort with a stomping intro of in your face drums and bass that immediately lets you know this isn’t progressive metal, or metalcore, or anything other than horn-raising metal glory. The structure hints at anthematic 70s metal, with Allen’s Dio-esque style and range, and a few Zakk Wylde-inspired pinch harmonics thrown in for good measure. If you were expecting Dream Theater, you just got slapped across the face.

If you thought any part of this project was done light-heartedly and without intent, “Believe Me” should prove otherwise. The attention to detail on this fist pounder is immediately noticed with Portnoy hitting every snare and crash with the precision of a surgeon. Allen again tears it up with his throwback vocal stylings, and more noticeable here is Orlando’s amazing skill (especially through the solo.) Bassist Paul DiLeo and second guitarist Rich “The Duke” Ward (Fozzy) are also on parade here, proving this quintet are dialed in on making some serious fucking metal.

The highlight for me was definitely the third track, “Hit The Wall”, a six-and-a-half minute journey down heavy-metal’s most triumphant era. Sure, it’s heavy on the feel and vibe of metal from the past, but that’s what just happens to make it so astonishing. Ward and Orlando team up here to set your speakers on fire, and Portnoy is obviously on the top of his game. I’m not 100% positive, but it sounds like Portnoy even takes a shot at the lyrics during a brief interlude halfway through (it at least didn’t SOUND like Allen.) The end result is possibly the best rock/metal song this author has heard in a very, very long time…

If you wonder what Dream Theater and Symphony X would sound like if thrown into a blender together, “Down To The Floor” is the obvious answer. While the other songs here have been pretty straigh-up metal, this one hints at more of a spacey, dare I say “progressive” atmosphere. Keep in mind, though, that I said “hints at.” The whirling UFO sounds and the spoken-word lyrics still get pretty much owned by aggressive guitars and thumping drums. It has the greasy residue of a Monster Magnet tune, and maintains the heaviness throughout, and on many levels is the most imaginative, innovative track here. If they choose this route for the full length release next year, I’d welcome it with open arms – but I have a hankering this was the most outside-the-box style we’ll see from these guys, only because they do the full-on metal so well.

A natural closer to this EP is the Black Sabbath cover “The Mob Rules.” While Ronnie James Dio (the BETTER Sabbath frontman) wrote and sang the original, Allen ups the ante on evilness and renders the best rendition of this classic since its origin. Tough to outdo such an epic anthem, but Adrenaline Mob accomplish it here with detail-oriented perfection.

Of course, it would have been great to launch the legacy of this band with a full length – but even just this little taste should have the masses ravenous for the 2012 release. I know I’m already licking my chops…

5/5

01. Psychosane
02. Believe Me
03. Hit The Wall
04. Down To The Floor
05. The Mob Rules

Buy at Amazon

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Comments
  1. Steve says:

    Holy Crap…that video for Mob Rules…well…ruled!
    Keep up the good work, Nutwork!!

  2. Steve says:

    Just purchased the EP. Loving every second of it. Mike Portnoy has always been an amazing musician and this project really keeps that going!

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