On March 12 Adrenaline Mob will be embarking on the first leg of its 2013 North American U.S. tour in support of last year’s brilliant debut, “Omerta”. In honor of that, the band will also release “Coverta”, an eight-track EP of cover songs culled from the band’s youthful inspirations.
Seven of these songs are new to fans, and one, a cover of Black Sabbath‘s “The Mob Rules” comes from the band’s debut EP. Aside from “The Mob Rules”, Ronnie James Dio gets more love with faithful renditions of Rainbow’s “Kill the King” and Dio’s “Stand Up & Shout”.
The band throws in a couple of curves with The Doors’ “Break On Through” and Heart’s “Barracuda”. On the more obscure side of things the band taps the opening track of the first Badlands’ album, “High Wire” as well as lesser known tracks by Van Halen and Led Zeppelin in the form of “Romeo Delight” and “The Lemon Song” respectively.
Adrenaline Mob drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, ex-Avenged Sevenfold, Flying Colors) is renowned for his work on previous cover albums. Being one of the world’s premiere drummers it goes without saying that the drumming throughout is mind-blowing, even as he takes his turn at filling the sticks the likes of Alex Van Halen, John Bonham, Cozy Powell and Vinnie Appice.
As one might imagine, every track is heavier than the original yet never surrenders the roots of the original. Guitarist Mike Orlando (Tred, Sonic Stomp), who hails Jake E. Lee as one of his own guitar heroes, had been playing “High Wire” from Badlands self-titled ’89 debut for years with Adrenaline Mob vocalist Russell Allen (Symphony X), with his own band Sonic Stomp. Putting it down on record was a logical progression. Allen, who also counts Badlands vocalist Ray Gillen among his inspirations, simply ate the song up.
On all three of the Dio-based tracks each member poured it all on. John Moyer’s (Disturbed) bass rumbles like a train through every track, and he truly finds the groove on “Kill the King”. Orlando admitted he immediately grabbed for his Yngwie Malmsteen strat with the scalloped fretboard for the Rainbow track in an attempt to remain faithful to the Ritchie Blackmore vibe. It’s not easy to be vocally impressive on a song once Ronnie James Dio has placed his imprint on it, but Allen does a balls out job on all three of these sonic homages to our beloved metal elf.
Moyer is again in the groove on “Break on Through (To the Other Side)”, taken from The Doors eponymous 1967 debut, but it is the edginess of Allen’s vocal presentation and Orlando’s pulverizing guitar attack which elevate this version of the song to a level that truly exceeds the original. Yes, blasphemy I know, but I’m not taking it back.
The band overhauls “Barracuda” from Heart’s 1977 release, “Little Queen”. Already a riff propelled rocker, Orlando adds his own grit and swagger, and while it’s one thing for Allen to throw down on the likes of Jim Morrison, David Lee Roth and Robert Plant, tackling Ann Wilson is a real trick, and Russell performed it flawlessly. The entire band gives the song a testosterone injection, but the spirit of the Wilson sisters still permeates the track.
Orlando is perhaps the one with the most at stake on “Coverta” having to reinterpret the likes of Blackmore, Eddie Van Halen, Vivian Campbell, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, and Jake E. Lee. Yet, just one listen to “Romeo Delight” from Van Halen’s 1980 “Women and Children First” release and one can’t help but realize, his own name fits in with those of the legends he channels here. It’s almost surprising the band didn’t do an early Ozzy track to give him a chance to pay fret-respect to his ultimate hero, Randy Rhoads. The last two-three minutes of this track are a real treat as well, as the band slips in some classic Led Zep and Van Halen nuances.
The band slides into a bluesy stroll on “The Lemon Song” and adds depth to this classic Zeppelin track pulled from the band’s 1969 sophomore album, “Led Zeppelin II“. Each individual performance breathes with authority and intensity.
While cover albums have become something of a trend over the last decade, most being unworthy of attention, “Coverta” is an absolute exception. Every track is performed with requisite love and respect for the original artist and the music. Adrenaline Mob remain allegiant to the originals yet maintain devotion to their own signature as well. It makes for inspired and engaging barn burner of a romp and roll victory lap.
Music is the universal language: Speak it loudly!
Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.