Adrenaline Mob – Omerta (2012)

Posted: March 7, 2012 in Music

Barely six months ago, the world got their first taste of Adrenaline Mob – the “supergroup” featuring ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, Symphony X frontman Russell Allen, and guitar great Mike Orlando – with their five-song self-titled EP. We were right on top of that release (you can read THAT review here), so we’ll skip the history lesson and get straight to the point.

After a gritty, balls out EP and successful tour last fall with Godsmack (which I was one of the lucky ones to see first hand), the band is making good on their promise to not take a moment’s rest with the release of Omerta – the debut full-length from these genre-spanning rockers.

Right off the bat two things are obvious. First of all, the band sounds even tighter and more in touch with each other’s strengths than ever – which is pretty amazing considering the EP sounded like they’d been together for years. Secondly, with the departure of second guitarist Rich Ward and bassist Paul DiLeo, the remaining three had no other choice than to play the shit out of the new material – and that’s exactly what they did. The unadulterated style of rock they play isn’t exactly the hottest thing going these days, and it’s not going to remind you much of any of the member’s former gigs – but that just may be a good thing.

When you put legendary rock artists together, you are bound to get legendary-sounding music, and that’s what Omerta is. It’s easy to draw comparison to such acts as Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Black Label Society and others – but Adrenaline Mob are anything but copycats. When you cut the loaf of bread that is classic rock/metal, the slices all kind of taste the same – but each has the opportunity to change the flavor with what you put on it. The “Mob” slice is piled high with roast beef, and the music is as thick and tasty as anything else you would want to sink your teeth into.

The album opens with “Undaunted” – a head-bobbing, beat-driven number that honestly reminded me a bit of Disturbed’s better songs – which is incredibly ironic. The song – as well as the entire album – was written and recorded prior to the band hiring bassist John Moyer to round out the line-up. Moyer just happens to come from Disturbed (who are officially on hiatus, and unofficially no longer a band), and the bass lines will suit him to a tee. The similarities stop when Orlando shows off his shred-tastic skills with the first of many mind-melting solos. It’s a powerful track that sends the message to the listener that these not-so-gentle men are ready to stand strong and deliver.

“Psychosane” (as well as “Believe Me,” “Hit The Wall” and “Down To The Floor”) was included on the EP, and I’ve already detailed these tracks in the earlier review – so we’re sticking to reviewing the new material only here. I will say that all four of these tracks are as great in 2012 as they were in 2011 – and leave it at that.

After a thumping intro of staccato riffs and drum beats, “Indifferent” smoothes out a bit, showcasing Russell’s softer side of his vocal prowess. It has Coverdale-esque swagger and heavy intention throughout and carries the track. Great mid-tempo rockers don’t come around very often very often – so don’t miss this one.

What sounds like a flick of a lighter opens the ballad “All On The Line,” which is a solid zippo-waving anthem bound to be a huge fan favorite. You may have noticed that – four tracks in – we haven’t mentioned Portnoy specifically. It’s not there is a lack of his perfection going on (he’s as strong as ever), but more of a even balance with all the members. I think the humbling experience Mike experienced with his former band has given him new-found reverence regarding his music and his style, and I actually like the new Mike more than I ever did the old one. He’s still sharp as a tack, but he’s just a part of the entire listening experience on this album – and that bodes well for Adrenaline Mob in the long run…

“Feelin’ Me” lays down a heavy southern rock feel. Simple syncopation and uncomplicated rhythms drive the point home well enough on their own, but Allen asking the listeners “are you mother fuckers feeling me?” really carves this track into your skin. Some times less is more, and in this case the stripped-down performance leads to one of the album’s standouts.

After the success of the Black Sabbath cover “Mob Rules” off of the EP, you can’t blame the boys for tackling yet another one on the full-length, but this time the choice was a bit peculiar. In fact, I had to harness the power of the Google search engines to remind me where I had heard “Come Undone” before. The Duran Duran version was built on soaring vocals and beautiful arrangement, and somehow the Mob recaptures that elegance while “keeping it metal.” The band is two-for-two now on cover songs, so expect it to become a habit on subsequent albums.

“Down To The Floor” raises the energy level back up, and – despite an almost-distracting spaceship buzzing the background – delivers not only one of the most infectious tracks on Omerta, but one that finally features Portnoy beating the hell out of his kit. He’s been great all album, but here he’s phenomenal.

While the album didn’t necessarily need a second ballad, “Angel Sky” carries enough vintage rock gloss that it didn’t seem over-cooked. Yes, it’s softer and prettier than most of the Mob’s stuff – but if the band wants to reach out to new fans and broaden their soundscape, songs like these are the way in. It’s the mustard on that previously mentioned sandwich – some may need it and others may hate it, but chances are you’re getting it whether you want it or not…

“Freight Train” finishes things off in fine fashion, as it steamrolls through the album’s last four minutes and fifteen seconds with what I think we can now call the “signature style” of Adrenaline Mob: strong, near-evil vocals coupled with cemented bass thumps, octopus-armed drums and concise and crafty guitar work. The whistle fades out at the end of the track, bidding farewell to a monster of an album.

It’s nothing all that new or innovative, nor is it overly technical and complex. In fact, you could probably argue that the sounds are a bit dated, or that no one cares about this style of music anymore.

I would have to disagree.

What Omerta is, and what Adrenaline Mob stands for, is undeniable proof that when great musicians get together, great things can happen.

And take it from me – I’ve eaten a lot of roast beef sandwiches…

9/10

Tracklist:
01 – Undaunted
02 – Psychosane
03 – Indifferent
04 – All On The Line
05 – Hit The Wall
06 – Feelin’ Me
07 – Come Undone
08 – Believe Me
09 – Down To The Floor
10 – Angel Sky
11 – Freight Train

Buy It At: Amazon

Official Site: Link | Wiki: Link

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