May 19th, 2012 | Published in Stage and Street
By Pete Roche
Cleveland’s House of Blues was barely at half-capacity last Thursday night when Kill Devil Hill and Adrenaline Mob hit the stage. But those in attendance were treated to an evening of virtuosic hard rock.
Kill Devil Hill—a new super-group featuring bassist Rex Brown (Pantera, Down), drummer Vinnie Appice (Heaven & Hell, Dio), guitarist Mark Zavon, and singer Dewey Bragg—opened with a selection of cuts from their new self-titled album, due later this month on SPV / Steamhammer. “War Machine,” “Revenge,” and “Old Man” crackled with Zavon’s guitar prowess and the inimitable rhythm combo of Brown / Appice, whose power and speed kept the band on overdrive for nearly an hour. Relative newcomer Bragg—who resembled an older, bearded Jim Morrison—belted away with the competence of a vocalist who’s been in the game for years.
Ex-Dream Theater drummer extraordinaire Mike Portnoy was the engine behind Adrenaline Mob, whose Elm City Music debut Omerta dropped in March. But Portnoy’s partners in crime proved no less capable in their respective roles, with Disturbed bassist John Moyer laying a steady groove over Portnoy’s karate beats and Mike Orlando’s pyrotechnic guitar. Symphony-X singer Russell Allen wailed through “Psychosane,” “Indifferent,” “Angel Sky” and “Hit the Wall” like some burly banshee in black.
Both Appice and Portnoy were afforded drum solos, with the former’s touching on John Bonham’s “Moby Dick.” Appice joined the Mob as the night wore on, sitting in for an appropriate cover of “Mob Rules,” the title track from an album he performed on with the Dio-fronted Black Sabbath some thirty years ago. Other Kill Devil Hill members—including Brown—reappeared for a Led Zeppelin jam (“Communication Breakdown”) and barnstorming finale of Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”
Adrenaline Mob guitarist Mike Orlando is certainly one to watch. The diminutive but devilishly talented musician was a veritable toolbox of fret board trickery—but he didn’t forgo the feeling behind the notes. It was easy to see at HOB why Orlando took Guitar Player’s 2008 Superstar of the Year Award, and good to know he’s find a suitable outlet for his talents with the Mob.