Sound — 10
This is it, the first CD from Alter Bridge, which was actually originally intended to be a side project of Tremonti's, until Creed officially broke up and Alter Bridge became his primary band. This CD is mostly created by Mark Tremonti. He wrote the vast majority of the lyrics himself, and he had the guitar parts to all the songs nearly completed with Scott Phillips (drummer) before Brian Marshall (bassist) or Myles Kennedy (singer/secondary guitarist) came along, so the music is also mostly written by Tremonti. In essence, this CD is mainly Mark Tremonti's creative work. The other members contributed alot in performing, but as far as writing this album goes, Mark Tremonti wrote the majority of it. Tremonti shouldn't need an introduction, he is one of the best gutiar players in a rock band around today, without a doubt. He was good in the early Creed days, and kept getting better 'till he really had to hlod back in Creed, and now he can unleash. He is very talented, and only keeps getting better. Those of you who know Tremonti farily well know he has a heavy metal beast inside of him. I think the metal-style shredding is his favorite thing, but he is very diverse too. He plays some blues and classical guitar (I wish he would record some for all of us to hear). He also likes good melodies and can be very melodic. That's probably his second-best thing, writing good melodies, which is where more of his hard rock sound comes from. This was more apparent in Creed then his metal side. This CD goes from melodic to shredding and many songs in between as well. I'd label it a hard rock CD, but the opening track and some other songs are really too metal to be hard rock. Some of the songs are definetly too light and melodic to be considered metal, and perhaps a bit light for hard rock even. Some songs are right in between, hitting a nice very edgy hard rock sound that really rocks out. All in all, this is definetly a great rock CD. It's leaps and bounds from most of the stuff you hear on mainstream rock radio stations. The musical talent of every member is quite evident in this CD (except perhaps for the bass player, not because he doesn't have talent, but because you can hardly hear the bass most of the time thanks to the way it's mixed). If you want to categorize it more, I'd say the overall sound is a mix of post-grunge (a.k.a. Creed sound), '80s rock/metal, and something even newer. Or just awesome will do.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics on this CD are mostly written by Tremonti, with some help on some of the songs. Tremonti's lyrics are very open-ended, in the sense that you can't usually tell he's talking about any specific events or happening in his life. I want to say they are abstract, but that's not quite the word I mean, perhaps general is a better word. You can listen to many of the songs and feel like you relate to the lyrics because they are so generalized. As far as lyric writing ability, I would give Tremonti a 7.5/10. Some of his lyrics are great, some are good, and some are so-so at times. I look at the lyrics as poems to determine that. Poetically, there pretty good overall. The open ended-ness I spoke of sometimes leads to lyrics that seem rather devoid of much meaning; however, I would say it usually works the other way around and gives the songs many meanings to everybody so everybody feels they can relate to the message in a meaningful way. However, I would say that the lyrics always match up very well with the feel of the whole song. The heavier and darker songs (Find The Real, Metallingus) have angrier/darker lyrics; the heavy yet positive One Day Remains has positive lyrics; the sad and very melodic In Loving Memory has sad and touching lyrics; and so on. Myles Kennedy is quite a good singer. I don't like to make comparisons, but I will make this one, to compare him to Stapp. Well, Stapp put a lot of passion in his singing by forcing out the notes. Stapp wasn't a great singer, he was ok; listen to Creed live and often you'll find that Stapp is in the wrong key or hits many wrong notes. However, if you notice, rock bands don't always have great singers, so I'm not really trying to put him down. Stapp did contribute great lyrics to Creed though. Kennedy puts as much passion into his singing, but he's quite a good singer, and doesn't have to force every note out so harshly. Kennedy doesn't sound like he's straining himself to death, and hits very high notes with ease, really. He has a great range, and he has very good pitch too. Live, I rarely hear him off, and occasionally I do hear him hit an off note, but he quickly corrects it. His style is not quite that of your typical rock band, but I like it. If you don't like tenor voices, go listen to '80s, then maybe you will. Chris Cornell (Audioslave, Soundgarden) is a tenor, so if you think high male voices aren't "cool," then that is a very rediculous reason to not like Kennedy's singing. If you just don't like his style, that's up to you then; to each his own. I like his style, I think it's very soulful and I think the ooohs he sings add nicely to the songs (Open Your Eyes is a great example). Overall, he is a very talented singer with a unique style.
Overall Impression — 10
Some people say they sound like Creed, some don't. I think I know why (for the most part). Every musician has a distinctive style to his playing that is recognizable to some extent in everything they play. Three of the four musicians are from Creed. So, in that respect, yes, they do sound like Creed. But, as a whole band, I think they sound a good deal different from Creed. The band's overall style is right between heavy metal and hard rock. They have lengthy, flashy solos and some real riffing out and shredding, unlike Creed, which never shredded or riffed out nearly this much. They have much more of an '80s sound then Creed did. The songs are more complicated then Creed's songs, and really all the musician's get to play and showoff and do whatever they want to since Alter Bridge isn't some huge band like Creed that everyone expects to produce big hit singles all over the radio. You can tell every band member's style (except Kennedy's of sourse), while still recognizable, has changed from what they sounded like in Creed. All the songs on the album are great in my opinion. My "favorites" are Find The Real, One Day Remains, Open Your Eyes, Broken Wings, In Loving Memory, Down To My Last, and Shed My Skin. Find The Real and Metallingus are the metal-like songs (dark and heavy with plenty of shredding), with Find the Real having an awesome guitar solo, and Metallingus having heavier/faster drums but no specific guitar solo. One Day Remains is just as heavy and full of shredding, yet is much more positive, with another great solo. Burn it Down is a hard rock song with some blues sound to it that appears to be about drinking and the results, but turns positive in the end (along with another great solo). Open Your Eyes, Down to My Last, and Shed My Skin are more hard rock-like, with more melody/less shredding and a positive message/feel. Open Your Eyes and Down To My Last both have stunning solos. Broken Wings and In Loving Memory are more like rock ballads, with strong, beautiful melodies and (of course) no shredding. Watch Your Words is somewhat like the metal sound but not as much shredding and a more relaxed chorus, with an angry feel to the lyrics. In The End is also between the hard rock and metal sound, with a darker tone and an awesome riff that really builds up at the end. Really, I love this whole album. These guys have talent! The only thing, is, as I mentioned earlier, the bass is not mixed in very well, making it hard to hear Marshall's lines. I'm a bass player mainly, so I have a pretty good idea of what's what and who's good and what a good bass line is, etc. Listen to most of My Own Prison (especially the song One) or some of Human Clay to hear Brian Marshall better. He's hardly ever a flashy bassist, but his lines have a good groove and are made to emphasize the feeling of the song, which I think he does a great job at. He's not one of those robotic bassists that just plays right along with the guitar line. He keeps the heavier songs moving, and in the melodic songs, he adds feeling with almost a counter-melody of sorts to give the songs a great feeling. I'll be honest, he's not up there with the likes of Cliff Burton or Les Claypool, but he does have talent, and he's quite good and has no trouble keeping with Tremonti. For this CD, Marshall came in after Tremonti already had the songs down, so Marshall had little input in writing the foundations of each song, instead he adjusted to what Tremonti already had. Personally, I think he's holding back his talent a bit. He knows the bass line has to concentrate on being a good foundation and not always being in the front. You probably don't always notice his bass lines unless you listen for them (I'm talking all his work, not just on this CD), because they blend in and fit so well. They add plenty of feeling to the songs and you don't even really notice unless you listen specifically to the bass. Anyway, that was kinda off subject, but, yes, my only realy complaints about this CD are the poorly mixed bass lines and the occaisonally only good or just average lyrics. Everything else is great! Tremonti, as usual, is writing awesome guitar lines. Scott Philiips is a great drummer, contributing varied (but always solid) drum lines that fit each song, but gets to show off a more intense, faster side in Metallingus. I'll admit I don't know a lot about playing the drums, but I can tell he's definetly pretty good (and my drum-playing friends agree too). I can't wait for the next CD, because Tremonti and the other members are always trying to push theirselves to be better, and so the next CD will be even better. It will be more complicated, have more shredding and even bigger/longer solos, even better drum lines, even better singing, better lyrics (with more working together between Kennedy and Tremonti), better bass lines (hopefully mixed better), and Marshall will be able to contribute more to the songs in the early process of building the foundations of each song, which I think will help improve the songs as well by adding more creative input. I'm 99% sure of all of this.