It’s a gleeful rarity when an outfit can unite both mainstream rock audiences and a metal community which has an undeniable tendency to be rather unforgiving. Testament to their immense talents, Floridian quartet Alter Bridge are one such gem who effortlessly garner cross appeal, with their hard rock bombast having proved to scale peak after peak since their nearly decade past inception, claiming the summit of modern rock echelons above the more exalted and envogue of heavyweights.
Predictably, fourth full-length record ‘Fortress’ sees the band on career defining form. Yet, perhaps what has come somewhat unforeseen is the sheer weight of richly creative and breathtakingly poignant material they have managed to muster here.
Perhaps what sees the band at their dynamic zenith on ‘Fortress’ is a flagrant disregard for compromise. The colossal stomp of tracks such as ‘Bleed It Dry’ and ‘Far From The Sun’ are as unashamedly metallic as any mainstream act has dared to be in recent years, molten riff work packing a clout worthy of the current scenes more full throttle outfits. Highlights are copious, the Led Zeppelin-esque thunder which greets on opener ‘Cry Of Achilles’ and the roiling groove of ‘Peace Is Broken’ are both weighty lessons in brazen heaviousity.
Marry this to the truly phenomenal vocal histrionics of frontman extraordinaire, Myles Kennedy, and we have a collection of songs which bristle with melodic potentcy as well as instrumentation muscle. Already established as perhaps the voice in the game, Kennedy turns in a performance which positively bleeds conviction, and from the mammoth choruses of thrash inflicted crowd pleaser ‘Addicted To Pain’ and ‘The Uninvited’‘s honeyed croon, his is a delivery teeming with versatility and soul baring intensity. The vocal refrain which explodes halfway through ‘Lovers’ is a heart-stopping example of how to remain as melodically gripping as it is emotionally stirring, and throughout the singer reaffirms his voice as a unmatched, gale force delight.
Anthemically hair raising, touchingly forthright and technically impressive (guitar deity Mark Tremonti turns in an absolutely searing display of finger cramping lead work), ‘Fortress’ is an across the board triumphant illustration of ‘radio friendly’ stretched dangerously close to its parameters. With memories of members past involvement in limp 90s darlings Creed all but banished, Alter Bridge scorch evidence of an undoubtable pedigree on listeners which will soon prove to see them a household name. Seldom will we see a record with as much all encompassing might as ‘Fortress’.
Written by Tony Bliss