MEN OF HONOR
Being completely honest, the debut Adrenaline Mob release OMERTA didn't do a lot for me. This is surprising actually, as vocalist Russell Allen is one of those guys that I always look forward to hearing from, regardless of the project he's doing at the time. Still, OMERTA was one of those supergroup releases that just didn't have a lot of "get up" to it. It was there, a pretty bland collection of hard rock, sometimes modern metal songs that just kind of went nowhere. The band is back, sans Mike Portnoy who has once again band hopped to a new project. MEN OF HONOR is, most certainly, better than OMERTA is just about every way imaginable. It's still pretty standard faire, but it is a more compelling listen than their previous effort.
Dealing with losing Portnoy could be handled a lot of ways for a band like Adrenaline Mob. I do think they chose the right path by producing songs that feature their most talented member's work. That member is guitarist Mike Orlando. While Orlando may not be well known or come up in those barroom discussions about "the best guitarist out there", he's a motherfucker of a player to say the least. Listening to his screaming solos on "Dearly Departed", you can't help but take a breath and simply say, "wow!" He shows a lot of diversity as well, switching gears completely to drive the rhythm of the ballad "Behind These Eyes".
Orlando is great, but he's merely a cog of this band. As mentioned, the progressive metal superstar Russell Allen is back with a lot of piss and vinegar in his vocal performance. On the title track "Men Of Honor", he spits fire at someone that betrayed both their commitment and their friendship to Allen. Portnoy, maybe? It's not directly identified as Portnoy, but it's hard not to assume that. Allen and Orlando bring it strong overtop the thick rhythm provided by Disturbed bassist John Moyer and new drummer (and former Twisted Sister member) AJ Pero. Pero is an interesting choice on drums. He's FAR less technical than Portnoy was, but that actually helps the band greatly. Instead of over the top drumming where every last millisecond of space was filled by some crazy drum fill, Pero brings a more simple and direct power rock beat to the songs. Songs like "House Of Lies" bring this point home, and stands as one of the best and most powerful songs on the entire disc.
PITRIFF RATING - 71/100 - Adrenaline Mob are not reinventing the wheel here, even though have at least two members in their band (Allen and Orlando) with the chops to do just that. Instead, they are creating solid hard rock/heavy metal that you imagine they simply enjoy making together. A solid listen, MEN OF HONOR is probably not going to end up as anyone's favorite album of all time. They don't all have to be groundbreaking to be good. MEN OF HONOR is not bad at all.