May 15, 2012
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Tim Taylor
Photos by Michael Insuaste
Adrenaline Mob - Adrenaline Mob, Kill Devil Hill
With the recent success of bands like Hellyeah!, Velvet Revolver and Chickenfoot, it's no longer considered a 'novelty' when musicians, who are famous for their work in other incarnations, to form new unions with other like-minded individuals of the same ilk.
Kill Devil Hill and Adrenaline Mob are not just side projects thrown together by rock stars that have run out of things to do. They aren't a collection of musicians dissatisfied with their previous gigs out to prove a point. In fact, the members of these all-star outfits are a hundred percent focused on the projects they've created, and are extremely focused on taking over the American metal scene. This set of musicians are dead set on making the words 'camaraderie' and 'hard rocking music', important again. All have had their share of disappointments, and for the efforts they're focused on today, they should be applauded. When these 'tour de forces' combined their collective efforts to perform at Trees, it was a no-brainer for the metal crowd in Dallas to show up for this late night face-melting.
Kill Devil Hill came on first, marking the heavily anticipated return of Rex Brown (Pantera, Down) to the Dallas stage. The band's dark, southern-tinged sound, fueled by the rhythms laid down by Brown and drum legend Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio), started the heads banging and the fists pumping as they chugged their way through songs like "Hangman" and "Up in Flames". Lead guitarist Mark Zavon showed off some astounding guitar skills while soloing during "Gates of Hell". He brought an old school metal feel to up-tempo rockers like "Voodoo Doll" and "War Machine".
Vocalist Dewey Bragg's voice fit in perfectly - whether the music was upbeat or dark - and his hilarious banter between songs kept all the metal heads entertained. Towards the end of the set, Appice stole the show with an energetic drum solo, complete with audience participation. The looks on his band mates' faces told everyone in the crowd just how fortunate they all felt to on stage with him. It's always quite refreshing to witness a group of this caliber in its early stages of development. After their self-titled debut hits the streets (and Internet) May 22nd, expect some big things in the future for this solid outfit of veteran performers.
Now for Adrenaline Mob! They are possibly the most talented metal band on the scene today. Anything that drum-god Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Flying Colors) is involved with is great – and that in no way is taking anything away from Vinny Appice's infamous drumming pedigree.
Portnoy has amazing chemistry with the cast of characters he has surrounded himself with. The band's new release, Omerta, is hands down the best album so far in 2012. The stage presentation of the music tonight absolutely confirmed that. As the musicians began to ply their trade, each member showed off his phenomenal abilities, especially as they blazed through "Psychosane". Russell Allen (Symphony X) is a big dude with a huge voice to match. His singing seemed to gain strength as the night progressed. His best vocal moment came during the power-ballad, "All on the Line". Guitar virtuoso, Mike Orlando, is a true shredder. His playing had audience heads spinning during his solos on "Feelin' Me" and "Hit the Wall". Bassist John Moyer (Disturbed, Union Underground) also displayed some impressive chops during his jaw-dropping solo on the tune, "Believe Me".
Again, while the whole band is unbelievably gifted, Mike Portnoy is the obvious driving force behind Adrenaline Mob. You just can't take your eyes off of him when he's lighting up his kit. Couple that insane ability with his light-hearted personality, and you have the most complete drummer on the hard rock scene today. His hilarious spot on Yoko Ono impression was a welcome change of pace compared to the tightly rehearsed Dream Theater days that was all business, all the time. The moves he pulled off during his drum solo didn't seem humanly possible to those witnessing his feats with awe. The roar of approval was deafening when he finished. For the record, the Mob tirelessly tore through a 10-song set, ending with their album's opening track, "Undaunted".
As if the audience hadn't been emotionally and physically drained enough, the band returned for an encore with Vinny Appice in tow. The assembled musicians launched into the Black Sabbath classic, "The Mob Rules", followed by Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick". The intensity of the mind-boggling drum duel between Appice and Portnoy drained every soul in the crowd. As soon as battle ended, both bands crammed onto the tiny Trees stage and jammed to Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown" and Sabbath's "War Pigs". I was rendered speechless by the momentous event that unfolded before my eyes.
Seriously, walking out of Trees, my mind was spinning from the performance I had just witnessed. Simply put, Adrenaline Mob put on the best rock show this town has seen in quite some time. The expert musicianship, creative songwriting and commanding stage presence made this outstanding group of artists THE band to see right now. Wow! My head is still in cloud nine. If you get a chance to witness this combination of talent in a city near you, absolutely run, and don't walk, to get your hands on some tickets. You'll be thanking me afterwards for the heads up!