Originally Posted on Wednesday, 13 March 2013
I’m going to try something new here. This is going to be my first review of an EP of all covers songs. Yesterday (March 12, 2013) heavy metal bandAdrenaline Mob released an EP of all covers calledCoverta (a slick rewording of the title of their debut album, Omertà).
For those of you who don’t know Adrenaline Mob…why the hell not? They are a super group featuring former Dream Theater and Avenged Sevenfold drummer Mike Portnoy, as well asSymphony X vocalist Russell Allen. Along with them isDisturbed bassist John Moyer and guitar virtuosoMike Orlando. Metal fans who recognize the namesMike Portnoy and Russell Allen might think that this is going to be another progressive, complex metal band that only a mathematical genius can get in to. If you think that, then you are wrong. Adrenaline Mob takes Mike and Russell out of their usual element of progressive metal gods and instead the band is more of a straight up heavy metal band; one unlike any current metal band out there. If you haven’t heard their debut album Omertà yet, I STRONGLY recommend it.
High Wire is a song originally by a band called Badlands; a band put together by former Ozzy Osbourneguitarist Jake E. Lee (best known for playing on Bark at the Moon) and vocalist Ray Gillen, whom was ever so partially a member of Black Sabbath before the band recorded their Eternal Idol. Ray would eventually pass away in the mid-90’s, not getting a chance to become the recognized rock singer that he always should have been. Other members on their first album were Greg Chaisson on bass and futureKiss drummer Eric Singer. This is a band that fell in to obscurity very quickly despite having some acclaim in their early days. They were simply a hard rock band, no nonsense, no synthesizers or studio experimenting in their songs, just straight up blues-based hard rock and released three of the greatest hard rock albums you’ve never heard of that you should listen to if you know what’s good for you.
Anyway this is an Adrenaline Mob review, and not a Badlands review, so getting back on track here: the band more than does justice to High Wire. The song is played with the exact same arrangement as the original recording, just down tuned a half a step. They hold back on any metal chops and keep it a hard rock song, which for metal virtuosos such as Orlando and Portnoy could not have been easy. But the aspect of the song that requires the most acclaim is Russell Allen. He is already one of, if not the greatest current heavy metal vocalist, having the best vocal range since the great Rob Halford. But what impresses me is how similar he makes his voice sound like Ray Gillen’s. You’d almost think it was the man himself singing the song!
Next on the album is Stand Up and Shout, originally by the legendary late great Ronnie James Dio and his band Dio. To any Dio fans delight, this is only one of three Ronnie James Dio songs the band covered for the album (one from each of Ronnie’s three main bands). This is where the band starts to sound like a heavy metal band. The song still has the same arrangement as the original, just once again it is down tuned a half a step, only this time Mike Orlando shows off his shredding capabilities a bit more than Vivien Campbell did on the songs original recording. Russell does a terrific job singing the song, this time he doesn’t quite shape his voice to sound like Ronnie’s, whether he tried to or not, but his voice fits the song perfectly as its own.
The next song is probably the best known song on the album. The timeless classic Break on Through (To the Other Side) by The Doors. The band completely rearranges the songs arrangement to sound like a metal song, which is just fine. The original track, for those who somehow don’t know it, has a more jazzy sound to it, something that is hard to pictureAdrenaline Mob copying, so instead the just raised the intensity of the song, adding much MUCH more guitar to the song. Orlando does a pretty acceptable job at turning Ray Manzarek’s organ solo in the original recording of the song in to a guitar solo, andRussell Allen, once again covering a singer who has shamefully passed away, does a surprisingly well job at channelling his inner Jim Morrison. My only complaint of their version of the song is the drums. The aspect of the original song that gave it such a good feel was John Densmore’s smooth jazz-like intro. Instead, Mike Portnoy starts the song off with a jungle beat which just doesn’t seem right.
The next track is Romeo Delight, a Van Halen cover. To the pleasure of Van Halen fans, it’s not one of their most famous songs but a somewhat obscure one that is the favourite to many of the bands fans. The band down tunes the song by an entire step, but keeps the fun nature of the original song. Mike Orlando shows his true Edward Van Halen influence playing all of the guitar parts almost perfectly, maybe showing off just a little bit more. He also pays tribute to Jimmy Page by doing a small cover ofWhole Lotta Love at the end of the solo break. Something I’ve noticed, that some people may not notice is the drum solo that Portnoy plays after the guitar solo is almost pound for pound the drum solo Alex Van Halen plays in another obscure Van Halen song, Light Up the Sky. Russell does a valiant attempt at singing the song in the fun nature that David Lee Roth did in the original…but couldn’t quite do it. There are some songs that only DLR can sing. That doesn’t mean that Russell sounds bad on this song, not at all! He also completes the song with yet another obscure Van Halen song reference, by saying “Oh, Jimmy”, referencing the way the song Top Jimmy ends.
Barracuda is another widely recognized song that the band covers on the album. Originally performed by Heart, and originally a hard rock song, the band picks up the distortion a bit and turns the song in to a heart-thumping metal track, otherwise with pretty much the same arrangement.
Kill The King is the second cover of a Ronnie James Dio song, from his band Rainbow. This time around however, the band is paying tribute to more than one iconic rock figure. Rainbow featured three legendary rock stars, on guitar Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmoreand on drums, the late great Cozy Powell on drums, journeyman of such bands as Black Sabbath,Whitesnake and Jeff Beck, to name a few, soAdrenaline Mob is filling some heavy shoes. The result is a fantastic one. The original Kill the King was recorded before heavy metal was what it is today, and always felt like it could have been heavier than it was, and Adrenaline Mob does exactly that, without missing a beat of the original arrangement of the song.
It’s almost a cliché to expect a Led Zeppelin song to be featured on a covers album. The one chosen for this album was The Lemon Song, much like Romeo Delight it is not the most well known song for a band to cover. And much like High Wire, the band kept the song tamed to its original hard rock sound, for the most part, and definitely does the song justice.
The last track, and the third of the Ronnie James Dio covers is Mob Rules, originally recorded whenRonnie was in Black Sabbath. The song is arranged similarly to the original version, only Portnoychanges the drums ever so slightly. The song still has its original pace and aggressiveness. The cover of the song is an obvious tongue in cheek joke given the title of the song and the title of the band, and that makes the song an appropriate conclusion to the album.
The most impressive aspect of this album is the choice of songs that they have covered. They didn’t choose the most socially recognizable songs to cover, instead opting to go a little obscure with their selections. In fact, some people who listen to the album may think that some of the songs areAdrenaline Mob originals.
“Barracuda” – It’s an awkward task to choose a highlight from a covers album. Barracuda however is a great choice, because it is a highly recognized classic rock song, and the band does a more than excellent job turning the song into their own. The single most important thing about this song is how Russell delivers the vocals. The original version may have been sung by a woman, the legendary Ann Wilson, but any Heart fan knows that Ann was never a woman to mess with. Russell does probably the next best job that you could imagine anyone singing the song.
7 (Out of 10)
|“Stand Up and Shout”||3:35|
|“Break On Through (To The Other Side)”||3:01|
|“Kill the King”||4:32|
|“The Lemon Song”||6:47|