Alter Bridge have done well to make a name for themselves. Their debut ‘One Day Remains’ was certified Gold, and while it was heavily influenced by Creed, it showcased Tremonti‘s talented guitar playing and Myles Kennedy‘s startling vocals. Its follow-up ‘Blackbird’ ditched the Creed influence and one of the few masterpieces in modern rock was born. ‘AB III’ draws influences from all of the band’s material, meets all expectations and is one of the most compelling rock albums of the year so far.
A perceptible feature of the record is the prominence of experimentation with the band’s formula. While every track follows a fairly standard verse-chorus structure, the songs will evolve and change emotionally for the length of their runtime. Album opener ‘Slip Into The Void’ begins slowly and makes use of atmospheric elements. After the first verse, the song explodes into a flood of low-tuned riffs. The chorus soars and will be stuck in your head for days. The only huge flaw with the album is that this build-up becomes banal from being used in too many of the songs. It becomes repetitive a little bit too quickly, and with that it’s something that will annoy some listeners.
Myles Kennedy‘s vocals are still brilliant and Tremonti still knows how to play guitar exceptionally, but instead of repeating the same formula as previous albums, ‘AB III’ features changes from an instrumental perception. Almost every track utilizes drop guitar tuning, including a surprising portion of the ballad tracks, which give them a thick, heavy groove. Many of the tracks revolve around more controlled aggression, often opting out of the standard chugging for a darker acoustic part or atmospheric riff. Kennedy also showcases his ability to hold his own against Tremonti as a guitarist, playing solos on a couple of the tracks including ‘Show Me A Sign’ and ‘Isolation’. The less conspicuous members of the band have also enhanced their playing ability. The bass is easier to hear now and this gives each song more of a groove. While Brian Marshall doesn’t ever stand out, he doesn’t typically follow the guitars and shows he has some technical ability in heavier sections. Drummer Scott Philips has improved too; employing a standard beat far less often, and has worked on making his fills more effective, often fitting with the mood of the song much better.
As it’s already said, the album gets a bit tiring on repeat listens. The build-up of the tracks (quiet verse, loud chorus, all building up to an ambitious finish) works very well in theory and sounds pretty good on the first couple of tracks. However, these tricks are repeated over and over again throughout the CD. It becomes a decently predictable record by the time ‘Words Darker Than Their Wings’ comes on. A smaller grievance with the album is the last track. While it isn’t a bad song, it fails to give the album a grand finale that was evident on both of the band’s previous albums.
With ‘AB III’, Alter Bridge showcase their ability to keep pushing themselves even after becoming very successful. The song writing is great, the guitar work is stellar, and the vocals are easily the best amongst their peers. If you’re a fan of hard rock, I would definitely recommend you buy this album.
Written by Rhys Milsom