Sound — 10
No stranger to hard rock/metal with loads of melody, Mark Tremonti drops his debut solo album on the world and man, does it hit with a heavy boom. Tremonti takes his usual riffs that everyone is familiar with from his work with Alter Bridge and Creed and in the words of Spinal Tap, "turns them up to 11". Every track, save the two slower tunes, is a perfect blend of metal and melody, and will have you testing the limits of your sound system with every turn of the volume knob. This is pure metal with no filler (or obnoxious frontman. Yes, I'm looking at you, Scott Stapp). The audio quality of this CD is among the best I've heard in the past 20 years. Yeah, like every other modern record these days, it's still compressed all to hell, but somehow the engineer managed to leave just enough headroom to give some much appreciated dynamics. The drums are the biggest surprise here, going deep but also providing amazing speed and punch. There are several places where the double kick drums take you immediately back to the days of Metallica. The engineers and mastering guys deserve huge amounts of praise.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, Tremonti delves into the same places he likes to go with his other two bands. Not that this is a bad thing, but you'll get no surprises here. The place you will be surprised is Tremonti's voice. Wow, I knew he could sing, but he SINGS the hell outta this album. He sings alongside Myles Kennedy on a couple tracks on the most recent Alter Bridge album and this offers a nice change of pace, but after hearing his voice in full solo, I get goosebumps thinking about an entire AB album centered around the juxstaposition of his voice in contrast to Myles'.
Overall Impression — 9
Picking a favorite track is tough, in the same way that pcking a favorite AB track is hard. There's NO weak spots. Today, I really dig "Brains", but this may change tomorrow. Top notch musicianship, a lack of ego, brutal guitars, INCREDIBLE drumming, and infectious melody all add up to the best metal album of 2012 and one of the best albums, period, in the last 5 years.