Sound — 6
Adrenaline Mob seemed to spring up as one of several projects Mike Portnoy was founding as his departure from Dream Theater was starting to sink in with the fans. Every member of the band was a strong musician in their own right, but with Mike Portnoy leaving the band so shortly after helping in the formation of the group in 2011 did not seem to bode well for their future endeavors. A. J. Pero was brought in to replace Mike Portnoy, and while there are some significant stylistic differences in how they approach the drums, the end result is very reassuring that Adrenaline Mob is still going to be around for a while. "Men of Honor" has 11 tracks and clocks in at just under 35 minutes. Instead of releasing singles from the album, the band instead released one song a week for streaming on their SoundCloud account until the entire album had been made available for streaming.
The album opens up with the track "The Mob Is Back", which starts out with some ferocious drumming and some guitar noodling that builds to a nice foot-stomping tune. Unfortunately, "The Mob Is Back" sounds suspiciously like a mix of a few other popular hard rock songs that have been on heavy rotation on the radio latey… specifically "Burn It to the Ground" by Nickelback and "Bad Girlfriend" by Theory Of A Deadman. "Come On Get Up" is up next, and the stand out part of this track is an amazing guitar solo that seems to borrow stylistically from something you would expect from Tom Morello, but works very well in the context of the song. Lyrically, "Come On Get Up" leaves a little something to be desired. "Dearly Departed" seemed like the first track on the album where Adrenaline Mob was trying to sound like themselves versus other popular bands in the genre. "Behind These Eyes" is almost what you would expect from an '80s hair band playing after saying "and here's one for the ladies!". "Let It Go" has some interesting stuff going on with the riff, and probably the most poignant lyrics from the album for me, personally. "Feel the Adrenaline" actually has a bass solo, which I thought it was pretty cool - I haven't heard a bass solo in a hard rock song in a really long time. The title track "Men of Honor" is another forgettable track - and honestly, the musicians involved in Adrenaline Mob are too good for the product they're producing. "Crystal Clear" is an interesting track because of the overall vibe of the acoustic guitar and the bass part. "House of Lies" is another track that sounds like it is borrowing heavily from other tracks both musically and thematically. The album closes out with "Fallin' to Pieces," which is probably one of my favorite songs on the album - for one, the band sounds like something unique and secondly the songwriting is much better than the majority of the rest of the album. The lack of originality is what makes it difficult for me to rate this release too highly. I respect the musicians involved and wish they had put forth a stronger effort.
Lyrics — 7
Russell Allen, vocalist for Symphony X, has been a good fit for Adrenaline Mob since their formation, having a voice that is well suited towards modern hard rock. Russell's performance on the album is consistently good. The lyrics, however, are one of the weaker aspects of the album - as an example, here are some lyrics from "Come On Get Up": "I heard you took one in the face/ In your face/ I heard you took one in the face/ Come on get up/ In your face/ Come on, stand up/ There you lie, crucified/ Now you're looking like the hulk/ Just knocked you out/ You're torn up, you're beat down/ Damn, you're looking like the dog just dragged you out." Another track that I thought it noteworthy, musically "Feel the Adrenaline" was one of my favorite tracks, but lyrically I was much less impressed, "Are you ready for the ride/ Grab the wheel and hold on tight/ Hit that nitrous suicide/ Oh yeah/ Feel the rhythm of the road/ Let it penetrate your soul/ Turn it up/ And rock that radio/ Now you're feeling the adrenaline/ Feel the adrenaline/ Come on/ Can you feel the adrenaline/ Are you feeling the adrenaline." I was seriously underwhelmed by the lyrics, but the vocals I can't complain about.
Overall Impression — 6
In terms of musicianship in the world of modern hard rock, Adrenaline Mob are definitely some of the front-runners with the level of their performance, but not necessarily leading the pack in the realm of creativity. Their songwriting is a little shaky sometimes - going into the realm of rock 'n' roll cliché a little too quickly at times. Mike Orlando definitely stood out as the MVP on the album, with a few interesting riffs but mostly it was his solos that helped the tracks chisel out an identity in a genre that can often seem overly homogenized. John Moyer was a close second for MVP on the album and hats off to the band for not mixing the bass so low that it is drowned out (which seems to be the thing to do in rock these days). My favorite tracks from the album would probably be "Fallin' to Pieces," "Let It Go" and "Feel the Adrenaline." Unfortunately, the majority of the album was very "meh."