When they first formed, Adrenaline Mob were considered a supergroup, with Symphony X’s Russell Allen on vocals and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater on drums. Well, not so much anymore, as the band has cycled through more drummers and bass players over the last five years than I’ve had hot meals.
Allen is still the Mob’s singer, and Mike Orlando is still handling guitar duties, while Jordan Cannata and David Zablidowsky are the latest iteration of the rhythm section. The fresh blood doesn’t really help, though, as we are still dealt a tepid helping of marginally well-played but unmemorable nu-metal similar in style to lesser and more annoying versions of Disturbed, Seether or Nickelback.
On the band’s third album We the People, things get off to a rough start on “King of the Ring,” a song that amateur wrestlers might use as their ring entrance music. It presents us with everything bad about the upcoming thirteen songs: Allen growling in full-on cock rock mode, Orlando squealing away with his nu-metal riffing, and some of the most irritating drum sounds I’ve heard.
Since most of the album is on this level of quality, let me focus on the highlights: the duo of songs a third of the way in. “Bleeding Hands” and “Chasing Dragons” are solid, the former an acoustic-driven radio-rocker that’s sure to get airplay and the latter a high-energy number with Allen toning down the macho theatricality to the perfect level. “Raise ‘Em Up” is a solid fist-pumper that will go over great live.
Why Russell Allen continues to sing on these types of albums is beyond me, as he sounds so much better in Symphony X. Apparently, Adrenaline Mob are his band of choice now, which is a bad decision. Here his vocals range from pretty damn good on “Bleeding Hands” to laughable on “King of the Ring,” and for the most part veer more towards the latter than the former, all faux-growly posturing.
Mike Orlando, while supposedly a fantastic guitarist, doesn’t channel that talent into songwriting. The riffs presented on We the People are generic throughout, and most of his solos grate on the nerves rather than making me want to play along on the air guitar. He’s certainly capable of nailing it: his solos on “Violent State of Mind” has him channeling his inner Eddie Van Halen while the title track solo is a wah pedal-infused shredfest.
I can’t say anything bad about David Z’s bass playing, which in this review is good. He holds down the rhythm nicely and on the occasions where his work is at the forefront of the mix he shows solid talent. Jordan Cannata’s drumming, on the other hand, I can’t really comment on. He might be a good programmer, though, as it sounds like all the drums on the album are just stock Pro Tools samples being hammered mercilessly into our souls. For me, it’s the most annoying drum performance of the year.
Overall, Adrenaline Mob have delivered the album we all likely expected, full of annoying sounds, riffs, and vocals. Covering Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” to close things off doesn’t help, either. It’s sad to listen to Russell Allen, one of prog metal’s great singers, debase himself this way. Here’s hoping that somehow he sees the error of his ways and goes back to work on Symphony X material.
(released June 2, 2017 on Century Media Records)