Reviewing an Alter Bridge album in 2019 is tricky. This specific brand of metal infused modern hard rock had its hay day in the early 00s, with acts such as Sevendust, Soil, and Puddle Of Mudd all having their moment to shine.
From wrestling games to sporting events, these bands were everywhere. The perfect storm of heavy yet simultaneously accessible songwriting garnered legions of fans via MTV2. Allowing listeners of heavier material to see them as somewhat of a guilty pleasure while folk with softer tastes could feel like they were getting in on the riff-centric fun. Somewhere in the middle, lay Alter Bridge.
Born from the hiatus of Creed (another iconic or maligned act, depending on where one’s opinion of the genre stands), Alter Bridge are often regarded as the best at what they do, and , the group’s sixth full-length studio effort, is truly a testament to this.
What should feel like a stagnant, dated collection of material completely out of touch with modern surroundings, is startlingly fresh with a palpable energy that rarely ceases throughout its lengthy runtime. The performances are all around exceptional, with equal praise to be showered on drummer Scott Phillips for his concise and strategic playing, and lead guitarist Mark Tremonti for colossal riffs and impressive solos delivered on essentially every track.
Frontman Myles Kennedy is often lauded for his remarkable vocal range, and ‘Walk The Sky’ only further cements his place as one of, if not the most consistent and talented vocalist in his field. His ability to reach flamboyant heights with his phrasing and delivery whilst toeing the line between epic and truly cheesy is commendable.
However, this isn’t to say that the album never borders on tacky or outdated. While few and far between, there are creative decisions, such as the woeful synth-line on ‘Godspeed’, which evokes ‘The Final Countdown’ levels of gaudy that, sadly, lowers the experience at times. For every minor flaw, there’s also major reward, with standout track, ‘Native Son’, featuring one of the most crushing riffs heard all year.
‘Walk The Sky’ does tend to fizzle out towards the second half, which is a gambit any band takes when delivering 60 minutes of material spread over 14 tracks. While it may not convert the uninitiated, long-time fans of the band and genre are in for a compelling, surprising, and rewarding listen.