Sound — 9
The future of Alter Bridge was in considerable doubt after the 2010 release, "ABIII." Founding member and guitarist Mark Tremonti turned his attention to his other band, Creed embarking on a tour, as well as releasing a solo album "All I Was" (2012). Lead vocalist Myles Kennedy started a project with "Slash" and "The Conspirators," releasing "Apocalyptic Love" and touring (2012). Drummer Scott Phillips joined a new band called Projected with members from Sevendust and Submersed. Despite all of this, they entered the studio in January 2013 and intermittently between tours with their respective projects, began recording Alter Bridge's 4th studio album - "Fortress." Would they be able to produce another solid album like "Blackbird," or would other projects get in the way? One thing is for sure, they have not skimped on this album, which has many different styles of music throughout the 12 tracks, varying from soft acoustic, hints of speed metal, and heavy metal. The album opens up beautifully with "Cry of Achilles." Tremonti finger picking some Spanish style guitar lick, before the emphatic head banging riff and thudding drums kick in. A sense of warmth and comfort overwhelms you when you hear Myles Kennedy sing, and even though AB aren't as popular as Creed once was, they are still one of few rock bands that knows how to make a proper rock record. This song is a 6 minute musical phenomenon and introduces us to an album which will please Alter Bridge fans in the fact that all the songs are pounding and heavy as opposed to the mix that we get on "One Day Remains." "Addicted to Pain" was released as a single on August 12th 2013, the song moves like a bullet and has lyrical staying power as well as a jazz style solo. This song is probably the most impactful of any AB track for me. "Farther Than the Storm" has a very dark guitar tone, and is one of the many heavy tracks on the album. This song is heavier than the "Wrecking Ball" Miley Cyrus is straddling naked in her new shitty video. The bridge and solo is so emphatic with fast guitar riffs and an even darker tone. "All Ends Well" is not quite as memorable as the other songs, but has a typical Alter Bridge feel to it. Slow intro building up to feel epiphanous. Final track "Fortress" clocks in at 7:36, blood pumping guitar duel type riffs, and great vocal harmony, it seems like Tremonti and Kennedy decided to have a guitar-off, but the song is brilliant and held together by some tight drumming by Scott Phillips.
Lyrics — 10
Kenndy's vocals are probably the best they have ever been, and are perfect throughout the album. He hits every note spot on and it never feels forced as well as putting so much emotion into his singing. Just listen to track 4 "Lover" for proof. It starts off acoustic and is lead by some of the best singing to be heard on a rock album. It is the only really soft song on the album. "Waters Rising" has vocals lead superbly by Mark Tremonti. This song has a typical Alter Bridge feel to it, and that can only be a good thing. It is well constructed, the body of the song is built around Tremonti singing aggressively "Don't Let Me Drown" before a riff that seems to sound as if someone is thrashing about trying to gasp for air.
Overall Impression — 9
This is Alter Bridge's heaviest and most intense album yet, as they have put every effort into making a powerful, diverse set of well-constructed, thick-bodied, pounding tracks that are pleasing to any rock and metal fan. All these guys want to do, is rock hard and they want you to join in. "Fortress" is a sensational, solid Alter Bridge album, and will be loved by the older fans, and newer fans. You will need jaw re-alignment, change of pants and your ears checked as It features some of their best work specifically from Kennedy. Alter Bridge for me, are under-rated. They seem to be flying under the radar a bit. "Fortress" however, should keep their rock God status alive, and worthy of my highest overall rating yet.