Sound — 8
Foreword: Throughout this review I'll pretty much be comparing this album to the latest Alter Bridge album "Fortress." Why? Because a lot of the riffs from this album were sort denied from Alter Bridge and also because, let's face it, if you're doing a solo album you should (in my opinion) be compared to your best work. Especially if it was from so recently. Did I mention it's the same producer, Michael "Elvis" Baskett?
The production on this album is pretty freaking incredible. Everything is crisp and clear and of course has more to offer the more you listen to it. The backing vocals supplied by Eric Friedman and the newly introduced Wolfgang are phenomenal. Soaring highs from those two, and the gritty/in your face vocals from a refreshed and confident Mark Tremonti. I'll get more into that in the Lyrics section. I just wanted to point out how well those harmonies are mixed in a fashion that doesn't overpower Mark.
The guitars are insanely heavy sounding. The riffs are insanely tight as to be expected from Mark and the gang, though a little simple. I'll give Mark this; He said something along of wanting to put in all his influences: thrash (duh), death metal, black metal. He notes specially bands like Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate. Of course the album sounds nothing like either of those bands, but you can definitely feel him sneaking in some patterns of the previous mentioned. Also if you get to listen to the title track, don't tell me that verse isn't straight up Maiden. Nice job. Anyways, back to the simpleness of the riffs; that was sort of to be expected since the previous Tremonti album was similar in that way. Though to be honest I was hoping for something a bit more dramatic and semi-progressive. The last Alter Bridge album was such a huge stepping stone in terms of song-writing and I was hoping for some tracks that really make you analyze for weeks on end to truly understand a song. At the same time I think Mark perhaps wanted a more straight-forward album that just made you want to thrash around. Or in my case skip his most recent show in NY to give students a final... Anyway... what I am definitely disappointed in is the solos. We all know Tremonti's got them chops on the fretboard! This is your chance to show if off man! Half the songs don't even have solos. I'll point out that "Tie the Noose" has a pretty sweet section in it, and so does "Another Heart."
Overall I'm feeling this album in a good way, but was really waiting for that one track that just made me feel a sense of epicness, in an almost power ballad way, but with that dark feel that "Blackbird" would give you. Enter "Providence." The final track on the album. This song begins with Tremonti's showcase clean tone with a beautifully mysterious progression. Then this crazy powerful lead line kicks in along with the drums and heavy guitars. Right then and there, you can feel this is going to be that track to really suck in. One of my favorite tunes, but note quite the top. Which I'll get into now in the lyrics section.
Lyrics — 7
So the lyrics have a lot of talks of wars (not literally, more like struggles of human life), coming to grips with one self, maturing, and the "sun." Yes the sun. That word is mentioned in... hang on I'm counting... 3/10 songs. In my opinion that's quite a few. Tremonti must love the sun. It's also in a lot of Alter Bridge song. Alright I'm done with my sun rant... The lyrics all in all are similar to the riffs; straightforward with some variations that delightfully throw you off, or just straight up get in your face and make you love it. This is where my favorite song comes in. "Arm Yourself" has probably the most repeatable riff in the album, and a really simple composition. That doesn't deter me from absolutely digging the vocals on this track. Talk about Mark stepping up his game. He throws in so many variations of his voice in just the first verse. If you really give it a listen you'll get some Myles Kennedy, some southern rock, some punk rock, and more. Just in one verse. That's awesome! Here's some lyrics:
"They say a man who fears will suffer twice
The fear has surely died
I throw a curse right into the rising sun
Today this will be done"
Truer words have been spoken, but damn it if they haven't hit as hard as this before. Really fun song. I'll also throw in another nod towards "Providence." Really great lyrics in there, as well as the lighter song "Sympathy."
Overall Impression — 8
I think for this album, you gotta take it as it is. Mark and the boys trying to create a thrash metal album with vocals that only Mark himself can deliver. And it does so. It's obviously a little lighter in terms of "br00talness," but this is definitely a thrash album. Cliche as it may be, it's very similar to something like "Ride the Lightning" or "Master." A nice mix of heavy down picking and tremolo's alongside some powerful down-tempo tracks. I'm still enjoying it and haven't found myself wanting to take the CD out of the car. All in all it just makes me more excited for the future of the next Tremonti album. Hell, ANY album that Tremonti is going to be in I'm excited for. The guy just keeps getting better. As long as he keeps going I can see limitless potential.