We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, certainly never planned for Sir Russell Allen to continue his New York/New Jersey nu-metal groove project Adrenaline Mob this long. In fact, with this third album inbound, things are bordering on a violation of listeners’ basic rights and freedoms. I’ve covered their previous outings of throwback nu-metal, yet I remain at a loss why Mr. Allen is so enamored with this numb-skull style of pablum made infamous by Disturbed, Godsmack and Nickelback. With right hand man, guitarist Mike Orlando and a few unknown recruits, Allen is back with more material that could, but shouldn’t have peppered radio stations across the country circa 1999-2005. Want heavy grooves? There are more here than at your local vinyl emporium. Want tough guy lyrics about being hard and mean? This is like a primer on macho shit to say between heavy reps on dead-lift day as you chug Monster Energy. You know what makes this already difficult to stomach material all the less palatable? Allen is so goddamn talented, he almost pulls it off sometimes, which is truly beyond scientific explanation.
Note the “almost” qualifier, as We the People is not a good album if you’re a discerning metal enthusiast. It’s lowest common denominator gateway metal for brahs and brahettes of the mall rat persuasion. By that I mean it’s devoid of substance and artistic merit, though it has scattered hooks and enough dimwitted, loudmouth bravado to appeal to the 14-year-old version of you who was mad at your dad and high school math teacher. Opener “King of the Ring” is a perfect case study – you get the most derivative nu-metal staccato riffs imaginable with Allen roaring pre-fight manly posturing in his best rough n’ rowdy bellow. It’s hard to hear and rather embarrassing, but I admit I probably would have lifted weights to it back in the 80s.
The balance of We the People is lost in the same deep rut (or groove if you prefer). “Better” moments include the title track, which sounds like Disturbed on auto-pilot with a chorus that manages a semi-serviceable hook. “Bleeding Hands” goes for a sort of Nickelbackian radio rock ballad that isn’t terrible. “Chasing Dragons” is best of the bunch and decent enough to be a B-Side on an Allen/Lande album, but Jorn would be justified in nixing it in favor of his 18-minute cover of “American Pie.”
Now on to the real dogs. “Til the Head Explodes” is a toxic mixture of P.O.D., Kid Rock and Rob Zombie that terrorists will probably weaponize. “What You’re Made of” is Nickelback on Soviet-grade steroids, and that’s one photograph you definitely shouldn’t look at; and “Raise ‘Em Up” is as lunk-headed as brah metal gets, with a genuinely disorienting blend of Godsmack‘s least endearing traits.
Aside from the awful material, the band makes several other baffling moves, like making an album of E-Grade material over an hour-long. The cover of Billy Idol‘s “Rebel Yell” doesn’t help much either. They should have just gone all in and covered “Tainted Love” or better yet, “I’m Too Sexy.” Add unbelievably brain-dead lyrics that scream “high school band that will never play live” and it’s quite a situation we have here, folks.
We know Russell Allen is one of metal’s premier vocalists, so out of respect, we’ll kill him last. Accomplice Mike Orlando may be the talented guitarist his solos sometimes suggest he is, but he spends the entire album spewing rudimentary nu-metal riffs and annoying harmonics as if he was cursed to relive the year 2000 for all eternity. If this was a wedding band for nu-metal couples, he would be the most qualified man on Earth for the guitar spot, and maybe that’s what this is after all. As for new bassist Erik Leonhardt1 and drummer Jordan Cannata, both come from nothing approaching an established band, and soon they’ll realize nothing has changed. As for Sir Russell, the man is slumming so hard here that slumlords the world over feel the disturbance. Using his golden pipes to shout about beating people up in bars is like using filet mignon to caulk a bathroom window, but here we are nonetheless. His fedora-clad Jersey Strong shouts and rasps are what they are, but he does inject some life into the few lines he actually sings (“Bleeding Hands,” “Blind Leading the Blind”). Sadly, those parts are stuck in the same testosterone and Red Bull Pruno cocktail, so what difference does it make anyway?
One of the YouTube comments under the embedded video called the band “stepdad metal” and that’s as good a tag as any. I heard somewhere that Russell has no current plans to do another Symphony X album and would instead focus on Adrenaline Mob. You need no further proof of the impending end times. Purify water, hoard food and burn this album for warmth (after you bench press to it).