Together we can rebuild him. We can make him better, stronger…faster. Anyone else remember that from the old TV series The Six Million Dollar Man? No? Ah, well. Anyway that line very much applies to the new TREMONTI album Cauterize, out now via Fret12 Records. Truth be told I was not a fan of 2012’s All I Was. Something about it just didn’t sit right and I gave up on it after a few cursory spins. Well, Cauterize is a marked improvement, almost like the aural equivalent of Steve Austin after he became bionically enhanced. The riffs are bigger and bolder, and Mark Tremonti’s vocals are light years ahead of where they were. This was evident on “Waters Rising” from the last ALTER BRIDGE record Fortress, and even more so here on these ten tracks.
Right from the start it’s clear we’re in for a good’un with opener “Radical Change” a borderline thrasher that revs the mighty engine that IS the album. “Flying Monkeys” carries those signature thick as hell riffs he’s been pioneering for almost two decades now. There are certain guitarists out there who when one of their songs starts you KNOW exactly who they are. Mark Tremonti is one of those guys. Being a longtime fan I can pick out one of his riffs in my sleep. Add to that the amazing contributions of longtime guitarist Eric “Erock” Friedman, drummer Garrett Whitlock, and bassist Wolfgang Van Halen (who really throws down some thunderous bottom end here) and you’ve got a surefire winner. The title track “Cauterize” is heavy as fuck as well, yet it also has one of the most “get stuck in your head” choruses.
We hit the gas pedal once again for “Arm Yourself”, Tremonti sounding the alarm with both his axe and his voice. The tone shifts dramatically for “Dark Trip” which sounds exactly like its name implies. This is a moody piece that is somewhat different yet fits within the album’s framework nicely. Leadoff single “Another Heart” and my personal favorite “Sympathy” beg to be played live in venues all over the world, especially the latter. From the guitar intro to the building drums to that unbelievably HUGE hook of “Sympathy my friend, abandoned me again” I was enthralled and had to hit REPEAT several times. And the solo, man alive the fucking solo!! Jeez, I’m gettin’ the vapors hearing it again right now!
“Fall Again” is another slowed-down affair but it’s still heavy with Tremonti really lettin‘ er rip on the chorus and short but sweet guitar solo. This guy’s one of my favorite players for a reason, folks. Another special delivery of riffage comes with “Tie the Noose”, one that I can definitely see as a single down the road (AFTER “Sympathy” of course!) while closer “Providence” once again takes us out on a dark and brooding note. All told Cauterize really feels like TREMONTI got it right this time around and I for one have got to see/hear this stuff live if and when the tour hits Philly. The disc is out now, and whether you’re a guitar nut or not, there is a ton of speed and melody to sink your metal teeth into, so have at it!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Sympathy’, “Tie the Noose”, “Radical Change”, “Flying Monkeys”, “Cauterize”