Sound — 6
Almost every rock and metal group starts out playing covers at some point during their infancy, however the heavy metal supergroup Adrenaline Mob have taken this rudimentary approach and integrated it into their own identity. The initial unification of Symphony X lead vocalist Russell Allen, guitarist Mike Orlando, current Fozzy bassist Paul Di Leo and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater fame caught the attention of many longtime listeners upon the release of Adrenaline Mob's 2012 debut "Omerta," however it was their follow-up EP which arguably attracted the most attention to the project.
2013's "Coverta" showed the members of Adrenaline Mob offering their own renditions of tracks made famous by Badlands, Dio, Van Halen and Led Zeppelin, amongst others, and was well received by both longtime listeners and newcomers alike. The band's lineup has changed rather dramatically since the release of their debut; last year's "Men of Honor" was the first to feature estranged Twisted Sister drummer A.J. Pero, and their newest offering similarly serves as former Tantric bassist Erik Leonhardt's debut with Adrenaline Mob, however it also boasts a return to the band's previous strategy found on their previous extended play release.
"Dearly Departed" shows this all-star unit delivering high octane versions of some celebrated hard rock anthems, as demonstrated through the choice opening number "Snortin' Whiskey." This vintage Pat Travers number has been revived with a compilation of pinch harmonics, operatic vocals, grinding bass lines and propelling percussion work, however unlike the preceding "Coverta" this type of approach cannot be found throughout the entire effort. Three of the album's nine tracks offer unplugged takes on previously released original material, such as "All on the Line" and "Angel Sky," which take on a type of second life what with the articulate acoustic arrangements and highlighted group melodies.
Sandwiched between an edited version of "Dearly Departed" from the "Men of Honor" album and a memorable acoustic take on "Crystal Clear" is perhaps the one true downside on "Dearly Departed." Adrenaline Mob attempts to provide their own take on "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band, with Mike Orlando shredding out the original violin parts as Russell Allen introduces some slight country twang to his singing style. Don't ask us how such a unification was brought to the table; perhaps it was an attempt to unify two different genres of music into one three minute recording, but it surely wasn't a beneficial one in the case of this latest Adrenaline Mob album as a whole.
There's plenty of other redeeming moments to be found here, however. With the crushing performance found on on the concluding version of Queen's "Tie Your Mother Down," which particularly galivants some impressive cymbal work beneath Allen's Mercury-influenced lyrical execution, you almost forget all about that awkward clashing of cultures found early on in the track listing.
Lyrics — 8
Russell Allen has one of the more formidable and better preserved voices in progressive metal. His operatic singing style and broadened vocal range allows for a plethora of opportunities in the case of a band such as Adrenaline Mob, who seemingly has no reservations when it comes to alternating between heavy metal to country rock to acoustic numbers on a nine track release. For better or for worse, Allen accommodates his lyrical execution to better suit the original renditions during the album's cover songs, which could be interpreted as his way of paying homage. Most of the time this serves to the benefit of "Dearly Departed," aside from the one aforementioned exception.
Overall Impression — 7
You certainly won't find too many bands like Adrenaline Mob who would dare present a collection of acoustic and revised studio material, in addition to newly recorded takes on The Charlie Daniels Band, Pat Travers and Queen on a new release. While in some cases this could easily be considered as a desperate attempt by the record label to put something new on the shelves to constitute a tour or radio appearances, Adrenaline Mob surprisingly manage to largely tailor the outcome to their benefit on the newly released "Dearly Departed" EP.