Sound — 10
In One Day Remains, Alter Bridge's debut album, there was a remeniscience of Creed in their sound and music, and it was one of their weakest points when it came to the critics. And Alter Bridge has clearly addressed the problem. The only song that I felt the "Creed vibe" in was "Rise Today." Blackbird is a lot heavier than One Day Remains, you'll know this by when the opening track, "Ties That Bind," closes with a burning solo. Although Alter Bridge clearly took a "heavier" approach for Blackbird, they also experimented with other types of songs. "Brand New Start" (which is also one of the tracks where vocalist Myles Kennedy really shines) is one of a few progressive songs on the album. There is but one true ballad on Blackbird, the sure-to-be-a-classic "Watch Over You." It is a very sweet and emotional song that features some nice falsetto vocals from Kennedy. And of course there are the heavy, guitar-hooky songs that rockers from anywhere will like. "Ties That Bind," "White Knuckles," and lead single "Rise Today" are only a few examples of songs that you will be banging your head to. There are also 2 songs that almost don't really fit into any of these categories, "One by One" and "Break Me Down." They both start with heavy metal openings, then they slow down for verses, and pick back up in the choruses. This works well for the first song of the two you hear, which will probably be "One by One," (it has a great, memorable chorus that will be in your head for days) and is one of the highlights of the album. But for "Break Me Down" however, it doesn't work as well the second time. "Break Me Down" is one of the lowlights of the album. And then there is the album's title track, "Blackbird." This song is their Stairway to Heaven, their magnum opus. "Blackbird" is a lengthy 8 minutes long, but it is so diverse that it feels like it's only a typical 3 and a half minute long song. It opens up with a slow, almost eery feel, but it quickly switches to a dark up-tempo track that will swing you in every which direction before it ends.
Lyrics — 8
I'm not much of a lyrics person, but from my point of view, the lyrics on Blackbird are only average. They aren't bad, but they won't make you think, which is something that I like to have in lyrics. And some of the lyrics don't seem to blend with the music. "Come to Life," as an example, is one the songs that fits the bill here. It has a dark, almost evil sound, but unless the lyrics are referring to zombies, they just don't seem to fit the music. However, Myles Kennedy sings the words so well they may as well just be jibberish. His tenor voice, love it or hate it, is what kept several people from buying or listening to One Day Remains. If you didn't like him then, chances are you won't like him now, but his voice seems to more tailored to the music now. And if you liked him before, your ears will be in heaven. Songs like "Brand New Start," "Before Tomorrow Comes," "Rise Today," and "One By One" are some of the songs that truly showcase his vocals.
Overall Impression — 10
There really is nothing to hate about Alter Bridge's latest album. My only complaints are the lack of heavy songs as compared to progressive songs, and Myles Kennedy's voice still has some "blending" to with some of the songs yet. Overall, Blackbird is a very solid album, and is an improvement over 2004's One Day Remains. Compared to some of the other rock albums out there right now, this one should be a no-brainer. And if you haven't heard of them yet, pick this one up right now, because these guys are going to be huge someday.