Sound — 9
This album has been in the works since 2010, as Mark Tremonti realized he was writing a lot of songs that didn't really fit with either of his two bands Creed and Alter Bridge. Since then it has all been a matter of timing trying to find an opening when his commitments to his bands wouldn't interfere with the recording and release of his solo album. Since founding Creed in 1995 with vocalist Scott Stapp, Mark Tremonti was almost instantly in the spotlight. Creed's debut album was enormously successful and they were the first band to have four singles from a debut album reach #1 on Billboard's Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Over time relations with the instrumental members of the band and vocalist Scott Stapp broke down which resulted in the band disbanding, who then reformed with a new vocalist, Myles Kennedy, as Alter Bridge in 2004. Alter Bridge's first album received a lot of flack being called a copy of Creed, but they came into their own with the release of their second album, "Blackbird", in 2007. Today that finds Mark Tremonti playing lead guitar for both Alter Bridge and a re-formed Creed. Mark Tremonti found time to release an instructional DVD called "Mark Tremonti: The Sound And The Story" where he teaches parts from the album "Blackbird" as well as some guitar techniques for practice. This is around the same time that Mark Tremonti knew he would be releasing a solo album.
Mark Tremonti launched a website to track the progress of his album in January 2012. Mark Tremonti recruited members of the band Submersed and the Creed bassist, Brian Marshall, as his backing band and provides all the vocals and lead guitar himself. The first single, "You Waste Your Time" was released on May 7, 2012 and within one day had reached #10 on the iTunes Rock Songs Chart. Tremonti released a music video for the same single that released on May 17th. The album actually released on July 17th. The album has 12 tracks and clocks in at approximately 51 minutes. The sound of the album could best be described as modern hard rock mixed with elements of thrash metal. How is this album different from all the other hoards of hard rock releases you ask? Well, I will answer in two parts one, Mark Tremonti's guitar lines are actually interesting and not endlessly repeating, and two, while the songs are catchy you don't feel like the hook is being shoved in your face over and over. The composition is excellent, the tone is excellent, and the drums are like a force driving the music forward. There are a lot of solos on the album, and they are definitely high points in every song.
Lyrics — 9
Mark Tremonti's voice really surprised me as I have listened to a lot of solo projects by guitarists and bassists and when they choose to do the vocals themselves it is almost always a case of trying to enjoy the album despite the vocals, but in the case of Mark Tremonti he pulls off lead vocals like it was second nature to him. The vocals are very well executed and really his delivery reminds me of Myles Kennedy without the trebly quaver in his voice. Mark's voice was one of the biggest surprises for me on the album, and I was truly pleasantly surprised. The lyrics and vocal delivery both go really well with the instrumental part of the songs, without vocals or instruments overpowering each other.
As a sample of the lyrics, I have tried to transcribe some of the lyrics from the single "You Waste Your Time" following: "You should have seen more faces from the start/ beholden to the hate within your heart/ you cast the world aside/ hiding from your burden one more time/ but could it be your efforts were in vain/ could it be your life is full of shame/ you threw it all away/ you let it fall to pieces in today/ you waste your time/ you hide too much don't ever let me find what's in your head/ you ask too much don't let me think who are you/ we will need to take it when you are gone/ we won't embrace the liars very long/ you're afraid to go/ you're afraid to face it when you've lost/ for all the ties were severed when you came/ what if I could mend them once again/ you're afraid to learn/ forced to watch the those bridges as they burn/ yeah yeah/ you waste your time/ you hide too much don't never let me find what you are thinking/ what's in your head/ you ask too much don't let me think who are you". The lyrics are really interesting and seem well thought out and very well put together. We can only speculate on what the song is actually about.
Overall Impression — 9
After a few listens I would definitely fall under the category of "very impressed" with this album. With Mark Tremonti you expect some good guitar work but what you actually get is some really well crafted songs with awesome solos, great vocals, and great arrangements. My favorite songs on the album would have to be "You Waste Your Time", "Decay", "Brains" and "Wish You Well". Really, the album is great from start to finish. The closest I have in the way of criticism would have to be that the song "New Way Out" is the weakest song on the album for me, having too much of a polished rock song sound to it, but by the time you get to the solo you forget that because the solo redeems the whole track with its awesomeness. I would absolutely recommend buying this album, whether you are a fan of Creed, Alter Bridge or just thrash metal or hard rock Mark Tremonti isn't just treading on the same familiar ground. This is a very solid album and very impressive for a debut solo album.