Floridian hard rockers Alter Bridge have shown tremendous consistency over the last five or so years, despite the insurmountable pressure that they seem to put themselves under. Whether it’s frontman Myles Kennedy‘s vocal work with Slash‘s group, or the three solo records in as many years for lead guitarist Mark Tremonti, the band have grown from strength-to-strength culminating in their fifth studio record, ‘The Last Hero’.
With the impending American presidential campaign and all of the furore that has surrounded it, Alter Bridge have deemed it necessary to formulate a body of work that attempts to make their feelings well known without coming across as overly preachy. ‘Crows On A Wire’ is one of the most obvious demonstrations of this on the record with overtly political lyrics overlaying the traditional Tremonti machine gun-riffing and a certain amount of bounce that is synonymous with the band.
‘Show Me A Leader’, whilst containing a long and building introduction into the album, manages to show interesting tempo changes during the chorus, with Kennedy crooning over the top with some chant-worthy “woahs”. ‘My Champion’ is one of the uplifting highlights, filtering in decent mini-guitar solos amongst the verses which breaks the track up nicely. The main guitar solo which kicks in towards the end of the song hugely lifts the tone in time for the final chorus, altogether adding a massive amount of harmony and an anthemic crescendo to a big, bold body of work.
However, this record isn’t perfect. At well over an hour long in running time, a few of the songs on show feel quite bloated. ‘Cradle To The Grave’ and ‘You Will Be Remembered’ tend to fall by the wayside when taking away memorable elements of the album, with a touch of sameyness in their power ballad composition and lacking a bit of depth. There’s the argument that there isn’t really anything new here either, with Alter Bridge tending to stick to their mainstream arena rock template delivering epic soundscapes, Tremonti‘s superb fretwork, and the unmistakeable wail of Kennedy.
But, despite this lack of originality, when this arena rock standard is set so high by the band, you can’t fail to nod your head and tap your feet to the majority of, ‘The Last Hero’.
Other memorable mentions are for ‘The Other Side’, which contains a ridiculously heavy intro guitar riff and is joined by some overtly sleazy, atmospheric vocals complimented by a sludgy rhythm section, and ‘This Side Of Fate’, which is arguably the highlight of the album. A massive emotional sense of feeling is portrayed throughout with some impressive key changes that Kennedy effortlessly delivers leading to a definite MVP performance.Another trademark Tremonti solo is sandwiched towards the end of the track adding some further emotive characteristics, while the overall weight of the song is somewhat imposing on the listener. The track twists and winds over a stunning soundscape, filled to the brim with heavy rock and even progressive influences and theatrics while retaining that Alter Bridge feel to it.
So, while there isn’t much to persuade previous critics of Alter Bridge to jump aboard their ship, ‘The Last Hero’ continues the band’s upwards trajectory into bona fide major festival headliners.
Written by Neil Criddle (@DJCriddz)