Sound — 10
"The Last Hero" is Alter Bridge's follow up to 2013's "Fortress" and it's just... wow. This album is a total monster. I was really impressed with "Fortress" up to the point that I bought it after my first listen (which does not happen that often) and loved it since then. So I was really curious and maybe even skeptical if there is room for any more improvement on this record.
Album opens up with "Show Me a Leader," which was at first released as a radio-edit version, without the amazing instrumental intro, followed by pretty straightforward but great guitar work. Rest of the album is an incredible mix of heavy,rocking and ballad-ish type of songs, mostly driven by Mark Tremonti's amazing guitar work. That guy is seriously one the best and most inovative players out there these days.
Another cool fact about the album is that although some of the songs are focused more into certain style, some being really heavy, almost to a point of doom metal or sludge ("The Other Side," "Crows on a Wire") or some having more of a rock vibe ("Show Me a Leader," "Poison in Your Veins"), most of them will combine a bit of everything Alter Bridge is known for. This good blend of styles is in my opinion what sets the band apart from other modern rock/metal bands on the scene. It also makes the album enjoyable from start to finish, without getting bored after three songs.
Bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips don't have any moments where they can shine, but they are locked tight together and flawlessly provide top-notch rhythm section and background for Tremonti's solos and crushing riffs.
Myles Kennedy's vocal delivery hasn't changed much throughout their career and he manages to hit even really high notes without any problems, but on the other side, those who are not familiar with band's discography might find his singing a bit repetitive after a few songs.
Lyrics — 8
Having read a couple interviews with Myles Kennedy about the lyrical theme of this album, I have to agree with him that while some of the lyrics touch the subject of politics a little bit, they do not aim to speak for a certain political ideology, but are rather just thoughts and feelings of normal person.
Also, this album is not as dark and heavy like the band's record "AB III" when it comes to lyrical subject. "My Champion" for example, has a really positive vibe to it and shows a much lighter side of Kennedy's writing than before.
Overall Impression — 9
I really enjoyed this album a lot and I would have to be really picky and in really bad mood to find a flaw on it. Every song has a different feel to it, which is something I find to be quite rare in the rock/metal scene today. I wasn't bored for a single second while listening to it. Also, as a big Tremonti project fan, I really, really hope that Mark has some riffs left for his next solo album, because his playing on this record is probably the best I've ever heard from him.
If they manage to top this one when their next album comes out, it might as well be a milestone in rock music after a long time. It certainly is the best album in their discography, at least for me.