Sound — 9
Three years after their debut album, "One Day Remains", Alter Bridge (Myles Kennedy, Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips, the last three previously of Creed) have returned with their second album, Blackbird, which is one to please all types of rock-lovers out there. They finally manage to shake off their Creed cobwebs with this sharp, Hard Rock masterpiece. The problem that many music critics had with One Day Remains was that it sounded too much like Creed, with the ballad-like riffs, some similar songs and, from the very first song, Christian reference (which is obviously what Creed were slated for). However, with vocalist Myles Kennedy joining Mark Tremonti on the song-writing seat, changes in the band's style are evident as Kennedy attempts to break the sound barrier with his powerful vocals and Tremonti finally breaks out as a Guitar God as many had predicted. The album blasts open with "Ties That Bind" (one for the metal-heads) which displays an impressive guitar riff and fantastic vocal work from Myles Kennedy. The song is really edgy in all areas. The sharp vocals combine fantastically with the awesome riff-work of Tremonti, who delivers a first-class solo. Scott Phillips shows his talent on the drums also. However, I would like to hear more of Brian Marshall on the bass, maybe turn up his amp a bit? The album is dominated by guitar and the bass doesn't really deliver the smoothness that you usually take for granted, you have to really listen for it. Songs similar to the opening track, like "One by One" and "White Knuckles" are carefully placed throughout the album and smash out the speakers, so it's definitely not an album you can fall asleep to. Saying that, it's definitely not a record you can get bored of. The variation throughout is outstanding, from the heavier songs already listed to the calm Blues-solo in "Brand New Start" and the softer ballads like "Watch Over You". However, there are two songs on this album which are just brilliant. Both "Before Tomorrow Comes" and "Blackbird" give you the extremes of different emotions. The first gives so much confidence with the lyrics "Before tomorrow comes, you could change everything", whereas Blackbird is truly a novel-like masterpiece: the finger-work on this track is just amazing, with the deep, slow riff, to the soaring solo from Myles Kennedy, followed by Tremonti's. It's just a shame that these two songs sandwich the track "Rise Today" on the record listing, and lower it's rating, especially as it's very similar to "Before Tomorrow Comes". The riffs throughout the album are so impressive though, not only at the skill required to play them, but their varying nature. You won't hear the same song twice on this album, unlike many other Mainstream Rock bands. Take Nickelback's "The Long Road" as an example.
Lyrics — 8
Myles Kennedy's vocals also shine throughout. Despite their similar styles, he easily destroys Scott Stapp's scratchy singing with a four-octave vocal range, the highs displayed at the climax of songs like "Coming Home" and then the lows showcased on "Wayward One". His lyrics outshine Stapp's also. With Stapp's perhaps being over-criticised for the Christian reference, Kennedy's lyrics display a modest and honest approach, rather than some bands sex and attitude-driven lyrics. They also portray a them-against-us' mentality in many of the heavier songs, which is a refreshing change to some Heavy Metal bands' Death-driven and fetus-related topics. His impressive vocals are only proven by Led Zeppelin's interest in him earlier this year.
Overall Impression — 9
This album outshines most other Hard Rock albums of recent times, with better singing and guitar especially. Tremonti displays better riffs and solos especially. This also outshines their last album, One Day Remains. The best song has to be Blacbird, which displays all kinds of Hard Rock, from the slow riff to the heavy chorus and then the double guitar solo from Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti. Definitely buy this album, probably one of the best I've heard.