ALTER BRIDGE is one of those bands who when they’re getting ready to put out an album, you just know it’s going to be something special. I’ve been jamming to these guys since I first heard “Open Your Eyes” back in 2004, they’ve gotten better and better with each release, culminating in 2013’s Fortress, an album that would be VERY hard to top. Which brings us to The Last Hero, out October 7 via Caroline. Now, fair warning: if you think this is gonna be an all-out ALTER BRIDGE lovefest, you’re absolutely right. Myles Kennedy is one of my favorite vocalists on the planet, and can basically do no wrong.
Mark Tremonti on guitar…do I even need to? Really? He’s a fucking GOD, okay? You factor in the rhythm section of Scott Phillips (drums) and Brian Marshall (bass), who’ve been playing together for so long it’s second nature to them, anchoring this mighty ship and how can you go wrong? One listen to opener “Show Me a Leader” and you just know this is ALTER BRIDGE, but never sounding forced, or like a retread. “The Writing On the Wall” is a riff-driven piece that also features Kennedy’s signature wails that still get me all riled up every time. A darker tone engulfs “The Other Side”, and once again there’s that Tremonti Wall of Sound. Hell, I’m not even sure what tuning this one is in, but it adds to the overall aesthetic.
Now we come to the favorite track with “My Champion” (also my current ringtone), one of the most anthemic tunes these guys have ever written. Best believe this will be a live staple for years to come. The same can be said for next song “Poison In Your Veins”. This has that groove that makes you wanna floor it down the Autobahn or hug the curves of the PCH, also at a high rate of speed. The record shifts gears (hey, I didn’t even plan that one!) with “Cradle to the Grave” which is a nice acoustic/electric affair that still manages to rock hard where necessary. Then it’s back to the guitar wizardry with “Losing Patience”, Tremonti reaching once more into his seemingly bottomless bag of tricks.
Speaking of which, “This Side of Fate” and “You Will Be Remembered” showcase a more introspective, and at times, softer side of the group. ALTER BRIDGE is a multi-faceted band, and there are many layers to this onion. The solo on “Fate” is one of the album’s best, and “Remembered” can only be described as a true thing of beauty, and as Kennedy himself puts it, “The song touches on the ultimate sacrifice soldiers, police, and firemen are willing to give. It’s a tribute to heroes who who serve the country or community.” This should really be remembered as one of the most powerful and impactful statements of their career and something to be proud of.
“Twilight” has one of the biggest choruses on the record to go along with one of the bestest guitar melodies and solos there as well, making this yet another album standout. “Island of Fools” is definitely one of the heavier numbers, the band painting with a very thick brush on their chosen canvas. Closing the disc is title track and nearly seven-minute epic “The Last Hero”. Now, here’s a song that runs the whole gamut from serene to balls-out to soaring, all within the same tune, it’s nuts. But perfectly executed. At the end of the day ALTER BRIDGE have done it again, and by “it” I mean deliver an album that will definitely please both the casual listener and longtime devoted fan like me. My advice? Pick up The Last Hero, put it on in the car, start driving, and don’t stop till it’s done.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM