Friday, September 2, 2011

Adrenaline Mob - Adrenaline Mob (EP) (2011)

A good, ol' fashioned supergroup. That is the best way to describe the amalgamate that is Adrenaline Mob. When the line-up is unveiled, you would think you had died and gone to prog metal heaven. Mike Portnoy, now former Dream Theater skins man and mastermind, on drums. Russell Allen, singer of Symphony X, on lead vocals. Rich Ward, guitarist extraordinaire for Stuck Mojo, Sick Speed and Fozzy, tackles the strings. Throw in guitar superstar Mike Orlando and bassist Paul DiLeo, and you have a band with the potential to take over the world.

The opening stomp of "Psychosane" is an encouraging sign of things to come. It has the classic metal sound that is hard to find in modern bands. The guitars are crunching, drums are pounding. All of the pieces fit. But the vocals are so unlike Russell Allen's normal output. They come off as forced at times, particularly in the verses. The melodic pieces are tight, as expected, but not exceptional by any means. The low speech vocals before the breakdown are simply worthless. "Going psychosane, mother fucking psychosane." Wow. The solo is precise and dazzling, before the talk box enters. Too much crammed in to one track, rather than doing what they all do so well.

Far too often things sound like recycled rock and nu-metal riffs. Such is the case on "Believe Me," which is about as straight forward as a rock track can be. Aside from some swift and sweet pick action on the solo portion, there is simply nothing to keep you coming back. Catchy, yes. But until the disturbingly heavy outro, there just isn't a solid foundation. On the contrary, "Hit The Wall" features some fairly intense guitar and drum work. It has that edge that the other tracks so grossly lack. Portnoy's signature style shines through, with rapid double bass pedals flying from left to right. Allen's vocals come off as overproduced and trite, lacking his normally brilliant lyrically and vocal aptitude. Were it not for his name in the liner notes, you may be hard pressed to identify him as the lead singer of Symphony X. Making things worse, a strong performance is dragged out to fill over six minutes of time, throwing in solos and blast beats that do nothing for the song itself.

The harsh distortion that opens "Down To Floor" leads you into a song that could be taken from a Powerman 5000 or Rob Zombie collection. The futuristic sound effects in the background, as well as the overemphasized vocal effects are disheartening. This is the kind of track that becomes the undoing of a true melodic metal band. It lacks in every possible way, from uninspired guitar chords to failed lyrical power. The lone bright spot, a short but blazing solo, is buried under layers of cheesy rock fantasy. The final track, a cover of the Black Sabbath classic 'The Mob Rules" is as good an effort as you can find on this EP. And though Dio may have passed on, his power can be felt in each word. Allen does an admirable job staying true to the sound.

There is a reason that true supergroups never develop into more than a fun side project. It's because they never equal the sum of their parts. Adrenaline Mob is no different. People come, searching for the sounds of those other bands. But you won't find them here. They have taken some of the best aspects of their respective sounds, and watered them down into a dull paste. They took what made each of them unique as musicians, and traded it in for an EP of mediocrity. After this five song helping, I will pass on seconds.


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