Mike Portnoy sure did torch his career in short order, didn’t he? In the span of a year, he went from one of the most loved and respected musicians in the world to a punching bag amongst metal fans. The whole drama with quitting Dream Theater, joining Avenged Sevenfold, being thrown out of Avenged Sevenfold, then being blocked from rejoining Dream Theater was somewhat amusing to watch in a sad sort of way. In the wake of all this, Portnoy was left without a band and had to create a new one. Adrenaline Mob is that band.
All the right names seemed to be in place. Portnoy is a legendary drummer. He grabbed Symphony X vocalist Russell Allen for this project, and Disturbed bassist John Moyer. He also introduced a lot of people to the unbelievable guitar skills of Mike Orlando with this band. Certainly, on it’s face this should be a stellar project. For whatever reason though, it’s not. All the talent in the world doesn’t translate to a band that has a lot of soul, and in this case, that hasn’t happened at all. OMERTA is a solid collection of standard modern rock tunes that fall somewhere between Avenged Sevenfold and a band like Shinedown. That said, the dynamics and the passion that those bands put forth in their music is nowhere to be found here. Sure, there are some songs that come off as a bit moving. Allen’s vocal performance on the song “All On The Line” is really good; a combination of his great crooning sound he regularly showcases with both Symphony X and Allen Lande and a higher end chorus vocal that reminds in a lot of ways of Tim “Ripper” Owens. Those moments are few and far between though. While the playing is excellent throughout, there’s nary a song that really moves you. A song like “Hit The Wall” has a lot of energy and features the best drumming Portnoy does on the album, but overall this fast song just doesn’t have that oomph to make it overly memorable.
Complaints aside, OMERTA introduces many of us to guitarist Mike Orlando for the first time. This guy is a player. His guitar sizzles throughout; changing styles and mixing in a lot of old school 80s meets Zakk Wylde soloing and riffing throughout. He’s the sole reason many of these songs are listenable. As an example, a song like “Psychosane” is a terrible tune who’s only redeeming quality is Orlando’s thrashing guitar and pinch harmonics for effect. While names like Russell Allen and Mike Portnoy may be more known, the reason to listen to OMERTA is to hear newcomer Mike Orlando.
PITRIFF RATING – 55/100 - Yes, these guys are tremendous musicians. That really doesn’t mean much when they write a collection of average, fairly uninteresting modern rock tunes. OMERTA will give them something to tour on, but it’s my hunch that it will be received poorly and will end up turning Adrenaline Mob into a one-off project instead of a new band. It’s just not that interesting.