Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First Impressions: Adrenaline Mob's Men of Honor (2014)

I never thought I'd say it, but Adrenaline Mob flat out rules. Nearly two years ago, their debut rocked my socks off and even received a favorable review on The Metal Advisor, courtesy of yours truly (Who else?). Their follow up, Men of Honor, is in the same vein, too, at least on my first run through, which is happening right as I type this.

For me, the most interesting thing about Adrenaline Mob is the amount of controversy they seem to stir up by doing nothing more than playing their chosen style of music. Some listeners slander the music, saying it's perfect for men smack dab in the middle of their midlife crisis; others call it too simplistic, fitting for meatheads perpetually stuck in the gym. In other words, these are "clever" ways of saying Adrenaline Mob sucks.

But I beg to differ.

While I can't deny that the music is glaringly simplistic, the midlife crisis and meathead comments are a bit over the top. I mean, seriously? Regardless of if Adrenaline Mob's material is technically challenging or not, good music is good music and will remain good music to those who, well, think it's good music. The concept isn't that hard to wrap one's head around. And I'll be honest: I couldn't care less if my "rep" as both a metalhead and blogger drops in some people's eyes because I enjoy Adrenaline Mob.

With Men of Honor, the band's line-up has shifted slightly but, thankfully, the difference should go unnoticed by most listeners. Formerly the drummer for Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy initially drew fans to Adrenaline Mob and was the source of the majority of the hype for their first record. But, as fate would have it, he moved on, leaving Adrenaline Mob behind.

To fill the void, A.J. Pero, best known for his invariable work in Twisted Sister, joined the band, lending a helping hand with his hard-hitting rhythms. Portnoy is no doubt the technically superior drummer--despite Pero's status as a rock veteran--but he toned down his antics in Adrenaline Mob, so the shift isn't as significant as one might think--hell, I'm about halfway through the new record, and it's already more consistent than the debut, which is a very good thing, indeed.

However, all that glitters is not gold. Relatively few albums are spotlessly perfect, and Men Without Honor is no different. Like Adrenaline Mob's debut, the ballads bring the overall product down a few notches, and I skip over them when making my way through the track listing. Yuck.

But the rest record--so far--is just wonderfully jam packed with the groovy, palm-muted riffs and wonderfully stripped-down drumming that I've come to love about Adrenaline Mob. It's a winning combination that suits any mood, and I can really feel and get into the music.

At this point, it probably appears as if I'm a rabid fanboy, but I can assure you that that's the farthest thing from the truth. In a room filled with opposition, I'll likely gravitate toward the underdog--if the music is great, mind you--and that's exactly what's happening here. Adrenaline Mob isn't well liked among seasoned metalheads, but I dig this band and am looking forward to many more hours of happy listening.

The Mob is back, folks.


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