There’s a new gang in town. They’re tough and tight-knit, and they’re not taking any prisoners. Bringing together acclaimed Symphony X singer Russell Allen, former Dream Theater and Avenged Sevenfold drum virtuoso Mike Portnoy, and Sonic Stomp shred extraordinaire Mike Orlando, Adrenaline Mob is a musical mafia of the highest order.
On their full-length debut, Omertà, the group cranks out one bruising hard rock anthem after another. Songs like the first single “Undaunted” and “Hit the Wall” hijack the right level of instrumental intricacy and taut technicality while grooving and moving fluidly. At the same time, “Angel Sky” takes flight on a massive lead and heavenly refrain. Given the band members’ respective pedigrees selling millions of albums and performing for sold out crowds globally, fans everywhere will soon be taking the vow of Omertà in their honor.
For years, Allen and Portnoy knew that they’d eventually work together. After Portnoy handpicked Symphony X to play on Megadeth’s Gigantour in 2005, the two became fast friends. Then, Portnoy insisted that Symphony X tour Europe with Dream Theater in 2007. During that jaunt, the idea of jamming percolated.
“In the back of my mind, I always knew I’d love to be in a rock band with Portnoy because neither of us had done that previously,” reveals Allen with a smile. “I watched Dream Theater every night, and I thought, ‘This guy is a rock drummer in a prog band!’ He never failed to steal the show, and his energy was infectious. I was inspired by it.”
Similarly, Portnoy was watching Allen closely while they were on the road. “Doing something together was inevitable,” he affirms. “This is better than I ever imagined though.”
In 2010, Allen was recording his second solo outing with Orlando. However, the guitarist had an entire arsenal of songs he’d been working on for years. He shared them with Allen, and it proved to be a perfect fit for the vocalist. They needed a drummer though, so Allen sent Portnoy an email with some of the tracks. After 30 seconds of listening, he was in.
“This is a new band with a new sound and a new beginning,” declares Portnoy. “Forget what everyone has done in the past. I’ll cherish and look back on my 25 years in Dream Theater with great pride, but it’s time for me to begin this next chapter. It’s similar to how Foo Fighters gave Dave Grohl a fresh start. That’s how I look at it.”
As Orlando puts it, “the chemistry was instant”, and the trio released their self-titled five-song EP in 2011 and hit the road with Godsmack. Quickly, fans embraced their sound, and a following slowly developed as the outfit tirelessly toured. Simultaneously, they were finalizing what would become Omertà.
“Undaunted” is the perfect introduction to the album. Driven by Orlando’s irresistible riffing, the tune is tailor-made for a beatdown. It wouldn’t be out of place at UFC fight or during your favorite action movie.
“That’s our fight song,” grins Orlando. “You can picture someone walking into the ring ready to knock their opponent out. It was a no-brainer once everyone got together. We put it together in one night.”
Allen adds, “That song is about facing your fears. If you’re going to take on anything in life, you can’t be afraid. Whether it’s a real dude or a problem like addiction, you’ve got to stand toe-to-toe up there and slug it out. When you can do that, you are truly undaunted and can achieve anything.”
On the other end of the spectrum, “Indifferent” unveils a level of vulnerability and diversity within Adrenaline Mob’s songwriting. “That song is near and dear to me,” says Orlando. “It’s about looking back on life and your mistakes. We’re all a little indifferent—at least we crazy musicians are. It’s a reflection song.”
The singer shares that sentiment. “If anything, it’s the flip side of ‘Undaunted’. It’s a strange feeling to compromise when you’re struggling or fighting. However, sometimes you have to walk away. Life goes on, and that’s the message.”
Adrenaline Mob allows each of these individuals to expand in his own right. For Portnoy, it was an opportunity to rock out—and he certainly did. “I wanted to give the songs the bounce they needed,” he exclaims, “I learned a lot about that ‘bounce’ during my time recording and touring with Avenged Sevenfold. I wanted to bring that to Adrenaline Mob. People can feel these songs live.”
Allen had the chance to expand lyrically as well, especially on a song like “All On The Line”. It’s an honest and open heavy ballad that illuminates the band’s songwriting prowess. “That song was written in one day at my studio,” adds Allen. “I got to pull back and show a different side of myself. I was excited to speak my mind. I got to tell it like it is with the lyrics, and Adrenaline Mob has really found magic in that honesty.”