It’s always a bummer when something with the potential to be awesome ends up being pretty mediocre. There’s certainly a lot to like about metal supergroup Adrenaline Mob. Chiefly, the presence of two powerhouse artists: former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, and Symphony X vocalist Russell Allen. Sadly, the involvement of these two respected talents just makes the disappointment of Omertá sting that much more.
Adrenaline Mob features Portnoy on drums, Allen on vocals, and Mike Orlando on guitar. Bassist John Moyer of Disturbed will be joining the band on their upcoming live tour. Adrenaline Mob released a four-song EP in August 2011, and will follow it up March 13 with their first full-length, Omertá.
Lyrically, Omertá is dull and uninspired, brimming with hard rock clichés about laying it all on the line, sticking up for oneself, and likening oneself to a car (with the pedal to the floor, of course). It’s almost jarring to hear songwriting this bland being delivered by the powerful, operatic voice of Allen.
Musically, Omertá is listenable enough, but it showcases Mike Orlando almost exclusively. Orlando supplies plenty of squealing pitch harmonics, finger-tapping, sweep-picking, and other overdone guitar wankery. He’s obviously a competent musician, but he’s too Zakk Wylde for me, and the band in general seems to be trying hard to emulate Black Label Society (with just a pinch of Disturbed thrown in).
“Hit the Wall” might be Omertá’s strongest track—it has a darker edge to it, with a memorable opening riff and (finally) some standout drums from Portnoy. The low point of the album? Probably Russell Allen “whooing” like a train on the outro of “Freight Train.”
Omertá is not an irredeemable album, but it sure is a forgettable one. It’s honestly a massive waste of talent. I mean, you’ve got Mike Portnoy, one of metal’s most prolific and progressive drummers, joining forces with Russell Allen, arguably one of metal’s finest vocalists, and neither is given anything particularly interesting to do. It’s a well-mixed album with a few catchy riffs—but there is nothing fresh, unique, or attention-grabbing here. Thank the metal gods that Allen is still with Symphony X, and that Portnoy has side-projects coming out of his ears. These two guys have much more to give than what's being offered up on Omertá.
If you're into Black Label Society, check out Adrenaline Mob's Omertá. Otherwise, I can't recommend it.
5 out of 10
Omertá is out March 13 on Elm City Music/EMI.