11 October 2010
by Danny Montana
How much less fashionable can a band be? It doesn’t matter that you kicked the idiot out, changed the name and brought in a singer who sang Guns N’ Roses songs this summer about 100 times better than Axl Rose did. Six years later, the stigma remains. Despite having two solid albums under their belts, Alter Bridge are still referred to as, “Oh, is that Creed?” Releasing one of the best guitar rock albums of the year would be a good way to change that forever, wouldn’t it. Here is III.
While One Day Remains and Blackbird still retained some of that mainstream grunge-lite sound despite Kennedy’s cleaner, even more radio-friendly vocals, a darker but more laid back feel to III is apparent in the very first licks of ‘Slip To The Void’. You can blame some dirty riffs from Mark Tremonti and some pretty sinister mutterings from Kennedy for that and it all makes for a remarkably catchy opening classic rocker.
A better indicator of the album is ‘Isolation’. Fast, riffy and anthemic – it’s Alter Bridge at their finest and by making it the lead single they chose exactly the right song to showcase their finest work to date. The crunching riffs that finish the song are to be found toward the end of the soaring, melancholy-fuelled, ‘Ghost Of Days Gone By’ as well. When Kennedy unleashes his voice on the chorus again, it’s a surefire whistle-fest. Seriously, if you don’t whistle your way through this album, you probably can’t whistle.
It’s Tremonti’s stunning guitarwork that really comes through overall. There are just no spaces to fill, in that regard. He’s got solos coming out of his ears and while he naturally retains the same sound as he had with Creed, on this album he’s proved there is so, so much more to his repertoire.
The Greensleeves feel to ‘All Hope Is Gone’ is tempered by the fist-clenchingly dramatic chorus but if you’re looking for chainmail to go with that, you might find it in the resolutely metal riffery in ‘Still Remains’. The croonfest of ‘Make It Right’ is enjoyable but ultimately forgettable compared to the stunning tracks that have come before and after. The gentle ‘Wonderful Life’ is a tear-jerker extraordinaire and one that’ll have the band reaching for Jovi’s barstools and the crowd reaching for a tissue.
More darkness follows with the downtuned ‘I Know It Hurts’ and the towering, magical ‘Show Me A Sign’ before the grungey guitars fly back in during ‘Coeur d’Alene’ and ‘Life Must Go On’. It’s a wise move to place them towards the end of the album because they just don’t match up to the splendour that preceded them.
If there’s one complaint, it’s that fourteen tracks is a lot for an album and it’s true that it does tail off slightly toward the end, but despite being a bit top-heavy, Alter Bridge have certainly set themselves a new benchmark with III. Set yourself your own benchmark and have a whistle along.
Sounds Like: American radio; Not Creed
Top Tracks: Slip to the Void, Isolation, Ghost of Days Gone By
Alter Bridge – III tracklisting
Slip to the Void
Ghost of Days Gone By
All Hope Is Gone
Make It Right
I Know It Hurts
Show Me a Sign
Life Must Go On
Words Darker Than Their Wings