Sound — 8
What can I say about the sound that hasn't been said? AB III is, as the band has described, much darker in sound. 01. "Slip to the Void" starts out with a long, whispered intro full of deep bass. It sets up a haunting tone that never seems to leave throughout the whole song, even when it gets heavier. The structure seems to be different than previous efforts and lends itself well. The chorus has a melody that gives me goosebumps (granted, this happens a lot throughout the course of the album). 02. "Isolation" kicks things into great with a hard and heavy track that seems reminiscent of a track like "Metalingus" from 'One Day Remains'. 03. "Ghost of Days Gone By" is next, which starts out, to be frank and critical, a little odd and almost "wrong" in the sense of Alter Bridge. It seems too poppy and it really detracted from being sucked into the album. However, I give it credit for going back to their distinct sound for the pre-chorus and chorus. Props to them changing the song almost completely in the bridge and breakdown. It hits like a ton of emotional bricks. 04. "All Hope Is Gone" swings Alter Bridge into a slower, 6/8 song that goes for their sound. Nothing really new, but it is a solid track that features a melodic hook that will have you humming along. I will mention that this breakdown, as well as others, really stands out from the track. It adds a lot of "headbang-ability". 05. "Still Remains" follows up in with a clean, slightly dirty intro with Myles's vocals far off and slightly distorted. Very heavy intro with a catchy hook to it. The verse-breaks and chorus really caught me off guard though, in a good sense. They were haunting in sound, lyrics, and key. For this reason, it really is one of my favorite songs on the album. No solos, but the bridge and breakdown make up for it. 06. "Make It Right" doesn't seem like it will be a great song at first, but it does catch on with a few listens. I think it is a solid track, but definitely not one of top picks. 07. "Wonderful Life" is the song that you'll listen to while looking at a sunset with a drink, guitar, or your romantic partner in your arms. Myles's voice is very enchanting in this song. It is a slower song, but I do enjoy it, just for the peacefulness it brings. 08. "I Know It Hurts" comes out swinging with the inspirational tone and lyrics that Alter Bridge is known for. This really gets your spirits up after listening to some of the darker stuff from them. A fast rocking song. It makes for a great listen while driving down the road. You'll be finding yourself singing along to this. 09. "Show Me A Sign" slows things down with a much more somber song that really questions things beyond us. This one will be played in more "brooding" times. The bridge is giving me chills as I listen to it right now for this review. 10. "Fallout" has an extremely addictive chorus. I honestly have no other way to describe it. I think it is a song good for getting crowds chanting along. The little blues inspirations fit in perfectly. The tale of the man in this story is a sad one indeed. 11. "Breathe Again" is a solid song. I don't really have much to say about it because it hasn't struck me as a powerful song all the way through, although it has its moments. I'm not saying it is terrible, it just doesn't feel like anything more than slight album filler. But coming from a band like Alter Bridge, just know that it isn't that bad of a thing. 12. "Coeur D'Alene" really seems like it would be a "lighter" song but you would be surprised. Some really surprising heavy riffs make their way in here and it was a shocker of a song for me. I don't often blast this one in the radio, but with some more listens, it might make its way to my play list. 13. "Life Must Go On" is another song like "Wonderful Life". An inspirational song with Myles's soothing tones. A great jam to listen to while relaxing. 14. "Words Darker Than Their Wings" is the last track and man, does it not disappoint. You could equivocate it to being this album's "Blackbird" on the first listen. Then you'll realize it is just an entirely different bird altogether. Myles sings the questioning verses while Mark trades off for some co-lead vocals in the "inspirational" verses, finally teaming up for the chorus. It is a powerful effect. I'm glad Mark stepped up to the mic in this album because he adds a very nice dynamic to the album. The chorus has gotten a "manly tear" out of this reviewer for just how powerful it is. The whole song is great, although I would've really liked an awesome solo exchange like in "Blackbird". However, I will let it slide for just how powerful it is. This song is the raw emotion of the tension built up by this album and condensed into one sad, but hopeful song. I want to give a spell shout-out to Myles for that extremely high note in the outro. When you hear it, your brain might explode from the copious amounts of emotion and heart. As a guitarist nerd, for those that like their tuning used on songs like "Come to Life" and "Broken Wings" (as well as a few others), it is used almost religiously in this album. It makes for a good dynamic and awesome sounds, but be prepared for lots of B flat ending notes. Also, Tremonti's creativeness with drop d flat tuning (or, drop d, down a half step) is something I always look forward too. To re-cap, their sound is definitely the same, but with the usual aging and perfection that comes with working on your craft. The production is very clean, although I wish some of the acoustic and clean riffs would "sparkle" more with some high-end shine. That, however, is just a personal preference. The drums are tight, the bass is solid, guitar tones are amazing, and vocals are superb. I want to give a higher score, but some songs just took me out of the "sucked in" experience, and even though they were brief (or few and far between), I think it is bit noteworthy. It still is engrossing however, so as long as you expect it. On the second listen, you will fall in love.
Lyrics — 8
I won't really go into all of the lyrics and meanings here, even though this is the lyrics section. Mostly because that would take forever. It has been stated by the band that the album is more of a concept record, reflecting on life and the beyond. Or, to quote Mr. Kennedy on their site, "This record is definitely a departure from the last two albums in terms of its subject matter. It touches on the thoughts and emotions of someone who has come to question everything that was once regarded as an absolute truth. It's the realization that everything you once believed in might not exist. Lyrical and vocal performances worth noting are "Slip to the Void", "Still Remains", "Wonderful Life", "Fallout", and "Words Darker Than Their Wings". Myles has only gotten better with time and hearing Mark get on the mic for a song duet was a great experience. I will say that I like the lyrical change, because I've always wanted to see how the group thinks on the darker side of life. It is fascinating and I'm glad to hear that they explored it.
Overall Impression — 9
This album took a little getting used to. That's not a bad thing, but unlike "Blackbird", I was not pulled in immediately by all of the songs, or at least 80%. However, this album is still very solid. If you're an Alter Bridge fan, but on the fence, just give it a few listens. It'll suck you in with time. It only took two for me. One qualm I have is the fact that this song was so close to being perfect but fell short with some lackluster songs. The album started out different, yet awesome. It just clunked with the intro to "Ghost of Days Gone By", giving off that "pop" vibe. But I say this out of my taste and preference, so you should listen and judge for yourself. I would definitely by this again. Granted, I listened to all the tracks via youtube or other sources (except for the released songs "Isolation" and "Words Darker Than Their Wings") and I can't wait to pick up the inevitable special edition to not only support them, but get all the goodies. Here's hoping for some of their talent so I can be half as good as them! AB III is a great album for any type of rocker and may even reach some metal heads. The heavy riffs, incredible vocals, and amazing talent really shine through with this album and it really deserves a listen. If you have not heard of the force that is Alter Bridge, do yourself a favor and educate your ears. While some songs can be hit or miss, others are aural sex. Take a listen. (And now for something completely different: I'm a raging Alter Bridge fan, and I would give all 10's, but I am trying to entice new listeners rather than preach to the choir. Also, opinions rock, don't lose them.)