When it comes to the active rock scene, few do it better than Orlando’s Alter Bridge. If you’re unaware, this is the group that formed from the remains of Creed (Brian Marshall, Mark Tremonti, Scott Phillips) along with former Mayfield Four vocalist Myles Kennedy. If you’re just now discovering the band and expect to hear ANYTHING like Creed…. you’re setting yourself up for failure. This band is a high-octane explosion of adrenaline, flashy guitar solos and soaring vocals. 5 albums into a 12 year career has caused them to form a bond that transcends any hardships they may face, along with a creativity that is nearly unmatched in the genre. Almost exactly 3 years removed from their previous effort Fortress, the band has returned with a politically-charged, anthemic masterpiece known as The Last Hero. The band has remained pretty fluid in how they experiment with new elements in their material but this album is where they have pulled out all of the stops and shows that they know who they are, what their sound is and what fans have come to expect from them.
The album opens up with a slow intro, followed by a blistering solo from Kennedy swinging us into “Show Me A Leader”, who quickly reminds us that he’s not just a great set of lungs. In previous albums, Tremonti has pretty much taken center stage, with Kennedy focusing mainly on his high-pitched, instantly recognizable vocals. Now, since Tremonti has experimented with some solo albums and Kennedy has toured with the legendary Slash (under a band dubbed Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators), he has returned to his multi-talented ways, giving Tremonti a run for his money. If there is one thing this band knows how to do, above all, they know how to create an amazing single. Each single they release has been more impressive than the last but, as many may not know, their deep cuts will blow your mind. Take, for instance, the difference between a track like “My Champion,” a track that is slower-paced and ballad-like and “Poison In Your Veins,” a 4 minute 19 second track that recalls the sound that they created with their first 2 albums. This track is very fast-paced, punchy and explosive with plenty to offer to the listener. Then, you have a track like “Show Me a Leader,” which is politically-charged and is aimed at the corrupt government officials we have in office, and the changes we need to make in the world, the type of leader we need to make things right.
Take, in contrast, a track like “Cradle to the Grave” which is a beautiful, melancholy epic that recalls the type of build-up that we first heard from “Broken Wings,” which remains one of my favorite Alter Bridge songs to date. Starting off slow and subtle, it builds into a full-band explosion, guitar solos and a soaring bridge. Then, you have possibly my favorite track on the album “This Side of Fate,” which does a great job of combining the two and even incorporates some strings. Kennedy reminds you just how beautiful his vocals can get and what made you fall in love with that voice in the first place. There’s something about the way the rhythm section hits your ears on this track that makes it feel so much bigger than you’d expect, as well. It’s always nice to feel the music, as well as hear it… at least for me, it is. The track ends on a high note with the near-7 minute title track which beautifully brings together everything you’ve already heard from the album. This track is likely going to be their next anthem, in the vein of “Rise Today,” “Before Tomorrow Comes,” “Breathe Again” and “Waters Rising.” These are tracks that are pivotal points in the bands career and that they continuously do very well. It’s not often, these days, that you can listen to a track this long and have it keep your attention throughout. There’s plenty of pace changes and twists and turns to keep the listener on the edge of their seat.
Overall, if you were let down by Fortress or even if you loved it… you’ll find yourself clinging to The Last Hero. This is the album that the band has seeked to create all these years, consistently pushing themselves to further and further heights. The distance between One Day Remains and this album couldn’t be any further and the progression that the band has shown, even from Fortress is 100% evident. These tracks are going to sound MASSIVE live and I hope to get a chance to catch them live. Do yourselves a favor and pick up your copy of The Last Hero, out this Friday on Caroline Records!
“Show Me A Leader” (Official Music Video)
Alter Bridge is:
Myles Kennedy – Vocals, Guitar
Mark Tremonti – Guitar, Vocals
Brian Marshall – Bass
Scott Phillips – Drums