Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Adrenaline Mob - Covertá

Adrenaline Mob
Elm City Music

When former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and Symphony X vocalist Russell Allen announced plans to form a new group under the name of Adrenaline Mob, many were excited. And with good reason too. After all, Portnoy is one of the progressive rock scene’s celebrated drummers, and Allen is an incredible vocalist. But despite the hype surrounding the all-star project, the band’s debut self titled E.P. (Released independently in 2011) and their debut full-length effort ‘Omertá’ (Released in 2012 through Capitol Records) left many disappointed with the band’s offering. In spite of the lukewarm reception to their releases, Adrenaline Mob (Who aside from Allen and Portnoy, comprise of Tred lead/rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Mike Orlando and Disturbed bassist John Moyer) have managed to established themselves as a formidable live act through relentless touring over the last couple of years.
With twelve months having passed since the release of ‘Omertá’, Adrenaline Mob has once again hit the studio. But rather than rush release a new studio album, the New York (U.S.) based outfit have instead decided to put together an E.P. of covers as a way to tide fans over until their next full-length effort.
Given my own disappointment with ‘Omertá’, and the growing trend of band’s releasing cover albums (Anthrax’s ‘Anthems’ springs to mind, and Alice Cooper’s plans to do release a covers album in the near future), the prospect of ‘Covertá’ winning me over seemed distant at best. And sure enough, while Adrenaline Mob’s new release is solid, it’s hardly a definitive statement on what the band are able to achieve given their all-star line-up.
The band opens up their E.P. with a cover of Badlands’ classic ‘High Wire’ (Which appeared on their self-titled debut from 1989), and it’s a great rendition from the band. Allen puts in an inspired performance (He well and truly matches Ray Gillen’s higher range vocal gymnastics), while Orlando nails Jake E. Lee’s guitar riffs and leads to perfection. Although staying true to the original, Adrenaline Mob manages to give the classic tune a little added heaviness through a modern production. In the end, it’s a great cover, and credit must be given to the band for covering a song that’s outside of the standard cliché choice of most.
One of the more disappointing aspects of ‘Covertá’ is that the band has decided to cover no less than three Ronnie James Dio tracks. While all three tracks do cover three completely different eras of Dio’s celebrated career (Dio is represented with 1993’s ‘Stand Up And Shout’, Black Sabbath with 1981’s ‘The Mob Rules’ and Rainbow via 1978’s ‘Kill The King’), their inclusions on this eight track E.P. seem to overshadow the overall bulk of the track listing. And the fact that ‘The Mob Rules’ was lifted directly from their debut E.P., the band’s tribute to Dio comes across as overkill. But despite my criticisms, the covers are really well done with ‘Stand Up And Shout’ a real stand out.
I’ve never been a huge fan of The Doors, but was impressed with the way the band managed to beef up the band’s signature tune ‘Break On Through’ (From the band’s self-titled debut from 1967), especially on the guitar front, where Orlando cleverly reworks the keyboards of the original to suit the guitar. In a similar reworked form, the band’s take on Heart’s classic ‘Barracuda’ (From 1977’s ‘Little Queen’) is given a bit more grunt on the guitar front, while Allen provides a truly convincing Ann Wilson impersonation, without losing any of his trademark vocal sound in the process. Yes, it sounds confusing, but makes sense when you hear it.
Another noteworthy track is the band’s cover of Van Halen’s ‘Romeo Delight’ (From 1980’s ‘Women And Children First’), which squeezes in a touch of ‘Top Jimmy’ (From ‘1984’) towards the tail end. But much like their cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Lemon Song’ (From 1969’s ‘Led Zeppelin II’), it’s fairly faithful to the original.
If anything, ‘Covertá’ is a fun listen. But if you’re looking for Adrenaline Mob to outshine their lacklustre ‘Omertá’, I’m afraid we’ll all have to wait a bit longer.

For more information on Adrenaline Mob, check out - http://www.adrenalinemob.com/

© Justin Donnelly

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