Concept album. That phrase alone is more controversial than putting ketchup on a Coney Island. Do fans have the attention span and patience to follow a story or theme that ties all the songs together for an entire album? Or do they just want to judge each individual song on its own merit? The fact that Mark Tremonti is behind this concept album is a shock to the system on a whole other level. TREMONTI is known for being one of the greatest rock riff masters on the planet over the last 20 years. Writing aggressive yet accessible material that is somehow both complex and simplistic is effortless to him. His talent have garnered him a Grammy and his bands CREED and ALTER BRIDGE have become the stuff of legend.
A Dying Machine (out now on Napalm Records) is something different for his solo project, a band that has produced three previous records that were brilliant in their own right. Mark and company have decided to pen an album with a storyline centered around synthetic humans, love and war. There’s also an accompanying yet unreleased novel to go along with the album. Tremonti consists of a trifecta of musicians that were there from day one. Mark Tremonti provides the lead vocals and lead guitar. Garrett Whitlock hammers the skins and Eric “E-Rock” Friedman handles both rhythm guitar, bass and backing vocals.
I found it difficult to review A Dying Machine. I decided to not judge the album on an individual song basis, though there are plenty of great songs to be heard. I’ve decided to review this album as one individual piece of art, as Mark Tremonti himself intended. The production value is top notch. The album flows and moves like an epic film. Valleys and peaks, triumph and loss. It’s big and small, intimate and massive. And if I were to break it down on a purely musical level, the riffs are great, the songs are great and the lyrics are great. He takes some risks and goes in directions your may not expect. And somehow it all works out. It’s Mark Tremonti after all, and he just makes great music. I get what he’s trying to do here and I appreciate the artistic liberties he’s taken. He could make a country album or a pop album and I’d buy it. I’m convinced he can do no wrong and this album is a huge risk. But it works. It just works.
Are you already a fan of Mark and his elite talent as a player and writer? Then buy this album. Don’t expect to hop right in like you have in the past though. You’ll likely key in on individual songs and find some great stuff to tempt you to dive deeper. But it’s not until you really listen to A Dying Machine, and I mean really listen to it, that you’ll get what Mark was trying to do here. And he’s trying to flex an artistic muscle that he hasn’t used yet. And it’s pretty special if you open up your mind.
STANDOUT TRACKS: The album as one artistic expression.