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Adrenaline Mob-Dearly Departed

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If you look at my past reviews you can see I am not the biggest fan of Adrenaline Mob. In fact I think the band may have taken on their namesake and put a hit out me. So it must seem odd that once again I am tackling their newest. Call it self flagellation or more likely that it’s February and there is not a lot out. Dearly Departed is a mini-LP mostly made up of covers or acoustic numbers. They did this right after their debut album and I like this idea. Alice In Chains did it and I think it’s a nice way of staying in the public eye without milking the cow.

Let’s address the covers first. Dearly Departed kicks off with Pat Travers’ “Snorting Whiskey”. This is a blazing cover and it had me rethinking my attitude towards the band by the time it hit the chorus. It is a balls out rockin’ version of this 70’s classic and you can hear the band enjoying themselves. Especially guitarist Mike Orlando who sounds like a mixture of an Allman brother and an 80’s shredder on here. Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” also gets the treatment and it is a good one. The feeling is like this is a fun practice room song that they just decided to record. I applaud the guys for choosing some not too obvious songs. However, just because it is a surprising choice does not mean it is a good one. Case in point is their version of “Devil Went Down To Georgia”. It sounds exactly as you would imagine and it’s not nearly as clever as it needed to be. The last cover on here is a “Black Sabbath Medley”. It is about as original sounding as that title. One highlight is drummer AJ Pero channeling his inner Animal and going bat shit insane on it. There needs to be a moratorium on bands covering Sabbath, Metallica, and Slayer. Just don’t do it. You will always be compared to the original and in doing so will always be lacking.

Along with the covers, the other draw is the three acoustic interpretations on here. Each one of them being very good. Russell Allen really gets a chance to show off his voice on them. “Crystal Clear” and “Angel Sky” have full band accompaniment on them but the acoustic vibe is still there and the stripped down quality is delicious. As good as those versions are, “All On The Line” is legendary. With just Russell and Mike alone with a guitar the emotion really comes through. Really beautiful and powerful.

Dearly Departed is rounded out with a radio edit of the title track. Taking off that extra minute really streamlined the song and makes modern rock keeper. “Gets You Through The Night” is an unreleased track from Men Of Honor. It is a little peppier and reminds me of Saliva or Nickelback and I’m not saying that in a good way. It proves the adage that if the song was any good it would have been on the album.

I guess Dearly Departed has opened my eyes to Adrenaline Mob. I really like how the band is able to mix modern hard rock with classic rock sensibilities. Hopefully it will continue on their next release. My one small complaint is I think Dearly Departed should be a bit cheaper. It’s only $1 less than a regular album so I dropped it down one because of that.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-buy it as a used CD

$1.00-streaming it on Spotify

$0-Not worth the drive space

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V/A-This Is Your Life-A Tribute To Ronnie James Dio

 

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Very rarely are “tribute” albums a good thing. Either they are modern artist playing classic rock songs because the label thinks it’s a good idea, KISS My ASS or Zeppelin-Encomion. Or you get gimmick-y crap like Country Does Metal. Ugh. Lastly, there’s what I call the Cleopatra effect. A label uses a group of older artists to do classic rock tributes. The label Cleopatra had an assembly line of 80’s rockers doing songs of 70’s acts. It became comical to see Jizzy Pearl of Love/Hate or Joe Lynn Turner on every release from Cleopatra. Very rarely do you get a tribute album of well known acts doing songs in the same genre of an iconic artist.
Lo and behold, here comes This Is Your Life-A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio. They did a great job of collecting metal artists for this record and the songs they covered range throughout his career. As an added bonus most of these songs are new recordings. With this kind of an album I think it’s best to go track by track.
Starting us off is “Neon Nights” by Anthrax. They do a nice and faithful version of the song. It’s a perfect album opener. If you heard last year’s Anthems you know they can do great covers. Following that is is Tenacious D’s “The Last In Line”. It has a nice acoustic opening but once it kicks in… the only way to go is down…… I love these guys but doing an electric metal song doesn’t work. Plus Jack Black does not have the pipes for this song. We are then greeted with Adrenaline Mob’s “The Mob Rules”. This was done on their covers EP a while back and I was not a fan of it then and still feel the same. Most of Stone Sour tries their hand at “Rainbow In The Dark”. They are joined by guitarist Satchel of Steel Panther fame aka Russ Parish from Paul Gilbert’s band and Fight. Doing such a well known song can be tricky but they put their spin on it. It’s a little heavier and just a tad faster. What is interesting is Corey Taylor’s vocal choice. His delivery is very restrained thereby letting the guitar riff to shine. At first it’s surprising because you expect him to go big but this works a lot better.
Young ones Halestorm try on “Straight Through The Heart”. The band proudly wears it influences on its’ sleeves and have done a couple of covers EP’s already. I know I’m supposed to like them but something about them doesn’t click. Lizzy Hale has a killer voice and on the second half of the song she steps it up a notch and it’s is killer. However the band is very blah and the guitar playing is bar band level. I know her brother is the drummer but she needs to be with some players.
The first track released was “Starstruck” with Biff Byford of Saxon singing with Motorhead. Just typing that sentence is a metalhead’s wet dream. Listening to it is even better. Biff’s gravel works great with Motorhead’s dirty delivery. It’s just so simple and so great. Another legacy act is next with the Scorpions doing “The Temple of the King”. The Rainbow track fits right in the Scorpions wheelhouse. The mid pace song is perfect for Klaus Meine’s vocals. It sounds like it should have been on their MTV Unplugged album. The Metal Queen herself, Doro gives us “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” and it is as glorious as you would think. When Ronnie passed they did a couple of tribute shows and she sang this song. It was done awhile back but chances are most people haven’t heard it. Another already available track is “Holy Diver” by Killswitch Engage. Done when Howard Jones was still the singer, it’s still a pretty cool cover and even better video.
Glenn Hughes takes the lead alongside Dio veterans Simon Wright, Rudy Sarzo, and Craig Goldy on “Catch The Rainbow”. Since this is very ballad-like it reminds me of some of the Black Sabbath stuff Glenn did. I like that he chose a song that he could do use his blues voice but it doesn’t really work. Next is one of my favorite songs Ronnie sang.”I” ,from the Black Sabbath-the Dio Years, is better than anything on that gawd awful 13 record. Former Lynch Mob singer Oni Logan is joined by Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, and Brian Tichy, Musically its good but Oni cannot match the defiance that was so evident on the original.
One of the tracks I was really looking forward to was “Man On The Silver Mountain” with Rob Halford on vocals. When Dio dropped out of Sabbath when they were going to open for Ozzy’s retirement shows, Rob stepped in. He did a terrific version of “Children Of The Sea” so my expectations were high. Unfortunately time has caught up with the Metal God and his voice is flat and very uninspiring.
The mighty Metallica do a medley on “Ronnie Rising”. It’s made up of “A Light In the Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King”. It’s tremendous. Any long time fan will know that they love to do covers and it shows here. Especially on “Stargazer/Kill The King” sections.
The album ends with Dio himself singing the title track. It’s just him and a piano and it’s phenomenal. A little heard track and it shows what a powerhouse he was.
There are some other songs depending on what version you buy. The digital download has “Buried Alive” by Jasta. I like it since we get to hear Jamey actually sing and this track works for him. The Japanese version has Stryper’s “Heaven and Hell” which was available on their covers LP from a couple years back. It’s good but they changed some lyrics and that kind of bugged me. Dio Disciples crank out “Stand Up and Shout”. I don’t have that version but it’s either Oni Logan or Ripper Owens singing so it should be good.
As with any tribute there are some hit or misses. As a whole This Is Your Life is a fitting tribute for Ronnie and with all the proceeds going to the Stand Up and Shout cancer fund that was set up after his passing it’s even more fitting.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space

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Adrenaline Mob-Coverta

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Since I just reviewed Anthrax’s cover album Anthems, I guess it makes sense to do the same for Adrenaline Mob’s collection of covers Coverta. While I was not a fan of their debut album Omerta, maybe someone else’s songs will help change my mind.

It kicks off with “Hive Wire” originally done by the criminally underrated Badlands. It’s a pretty faithful cover but while Russell Allen may be a good vocalist, he pales in comparison to Ray Gillen. All this version does is make me want to go listen to Badlands some more. There is a really rocking version of The Doors “Break On Through”. The band does a nice job in using a funky bass instead of an organ. Adrenaline Mob made this there own song. The same was accomplished with Van Halen’s “Romeo’s Delight. Heavied it up, sped it up, and added a touch from Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” while rounding it out with a pinch of “Top Jimmy”. Speaking of Zepplin, there is a version of “Lemon Song”. While it is a rather basic cover of the song, it really shows off how good of musicians the band is, so it’s acceptable. Sort of finishing it out is “Barracuda” by Heart. This is basically a note for note re-recording and sounds exactly as you think it would. The best thing I can say about it, is that it is the only track that does not have the same crappy guitar tone that permeates throughout the album.

I say “sort of finishes” because there are 3 Ronnie James Dio song’s on here. Granted they cover different bands he sang with, it still seems odd. We have “Stand Up and Shout” from his solo days, “Kill The King” from Rainbow and “Mob Rules” from his Black Sabbath days. All of them are as expected covers and seem more fitting for playing as an encore than expecting someone to play for them. I really wish they would have chose just one of his songs, especially if it was one we haven’t heard countless times.

After this I guess it’s safe to say I am not a fan of Adrenaline Mob. Be it original or cover tunes, I don’t care. Coverta, is a bland collection of songs we have heard before done in exactly the way we thought they would be.

Ughh.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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Adrenaline Mob-Omerta

Remember when David Carusso left his role on NYPD, one of the biggest shows on TV, to star in movies? He made Kiss Of Death, with a stellar cast that included Samuel Jackson, Helen Hunt, Nic Cage, and Michael Rappoport. The movie tanked and he became a punchline. After listening to Omerta, Adrenaline Mob is Mike Portnoy’s Kiss Of Death. Mike was best known for being a founding member and drummer of Dream Theater. He was fired from his own group and Adrenaline Mob is his first new offering. Formed along with such well known musician as vocalist Russell Allen from Symphony X and Rich Ward of Stuck Mojo.

 

What is surprising about Omerta is how pedestrian it is. I don’t think anyone expected this band to rival his previous one but I think we all expected that they be competent. What you get here is a well produced local band. Omerta opens with “Undaunted” a song that sounds like it was a C-side from Godsmack. Actually a Godsmack tribute band.

 

Please God do not let there be a Godsmack tribute band.

 

All the songs that follow use the same pseudo-tough guy lyric accompanied by bad hard rock. Russell Allen seems way out of his element here. His style may work with his other bands progressive material but here it just doesn’t jibe. Listening to “Feelin’ Me” is almost a comical experience. The juvenile lyrics with its over use of the F word are chuckle worthy. Only thing worse are the power ballads on here.

 

The “topper” is the cover of Duran Duran’s “Come Undone”. While the song does get a nice makeover the decision to have Lizzy Hale of Halestorm sing backgrounds are shocking.

 

Shockingly bad.

 

All of the early press for this band referred to them as a supergroup. A group they are, super they are not. Maybe if Mike will concentrate on just one project at a time instead of the 30 he is doing right now, the next release will be better. I just don’t know if there will be an audience that wants to find out.

 

 

 

 

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