Review Summary: An album of new beginnings.
One of the most rewarding experiences in life is having the opportunity to start over again. A white sheet of paper, a sunrise, a new relationship…whatever metaphor comes to mind, the common denominator is always a sense of euphoria born out of the belief that, by leaving the past behind, anything
is attainable. In a way, this is the aura surrounding Alter Bridge’s sophomore release, Blackbird
. After years of making successful but safe music with Scott Stapp under the name Creed, One Day Remains
showed Alter Bridge beginning to peak their heads out of their shell. It wasn’t until their second album that they fully realized their calling. Blackbird
is the rebirth of four musicians who established their own identity and acquired a fresh slate on which to write their story.
exudes all of the energy and excitement that rightfully should accompany an album of such importance. It commences with an absurdly high-powered, vibrant rocker in “Ties That Bind.” The song showcases Tremonti’s shredding ability overtop of Phillips’ fast-paced and diverse drumming techniques. Kennedy’s vocals are also spot on, hitting each high note during one of the album’s most telling choruses, “One last hope to rise and break away, above the faded line, way beyond the ties that bind.” Tracks like “Come to Life” and “Brand New Start”, while not quite as memorable, also possess sentiments of freedom and opportunity. Even Blackbird
’s more somber tracks ring with an echo of hope. The title track, while clearly a tribute to the death of a close relative or loved one, ends with an optimistic twist:
Beyond the suffering you've known
I hope you find your way
May you never be broken again
The combination of emotionally overwhelming lyrics and Kennedy’s powerful delivery create one of the album’s brightest shining moments. “Rise Today” and “Watch Over You” are also notable highlights, representing Blackbird
’s catchiest song and its best ballad, respectively. In all of these songs, especially the more upbeat tracks, Tremonti seems to really benefit from the guitar presence of Miles Kennedy. Having Kennedy man the rhythm guitar duties (and occasionally even the lead guitar) allows Tremonti to explore his creative boundaries, which results in some of Blackbird
’s biggest and best sounding solos. By the end of this record, it is clear that Blackbird
is not only a creative masterpiece, but also sound from an instrumental standpoint.
The only real issues on this album can be attributed to the innate weaknesses of hard rock as a genre, along with Alter Bridge’s bid for anthemic production on every track. Blackbird
is advanced technically for an album that treads the line of mainstream rock, but it does not experiment beyond the expectations of their specific field of music. The majority of the songs follow the same general structure, often even utilizing the same chord progression. As a result, many of the songs end up sounding just similar enough to make the listener grow weary. After all, Blackbird
is fifty-nine minutes long, making the aforementioned results inevitable without a considerable amount of change-up. For all intents and purposes, however, each song is near-perfectly executed for what it is
. Alter Bridge just may have gone over the top with the album’s length and grasps at making every song into an anthem.
In the end, Blackbird
is a surprisingly good album with the potential to carry an unbelievable amount of personal meaning. The band shows that they have grown out of the shadow of Creed’s influence, and have been, in a sense, born again
. If Blackbird
is any indication, this is one band that not be held back. They will continue to mature and evolve…way beyond the ties that bind.