Review Summary: Alter Bridge returns with their strengths intact, but also with a few new weaknesses.
Alter Bridge is a band that has evoked a divided reaction from musical audiences. Some absolutely love their heavy, intricate riffs layered with Myles Kennedy’s skilled vocal range, and others hate them for the same reasons, only with different perceptions – citing repetitive chord progressions and vocals that are too high pitched for the dark undertones created by the instrumental components. Both arguments have validity, and to be honest, they both have a lot to do with whether or not you will like AB III
It is a cardinal sin to formulate an opinion on an album based primarily on comparisons to a band’s prior work. So let’s get one thing out of the way immediately: this is in no way as good as Blackbird
was a towering achievement of the hard rock genre, with moments of instrumental, vocal, and lyrical brilliance. While AB III
falls short of matching that landmark album, it also should not
be dismissed. Alter Bridge’s latest release delivers on all of its promises. It is heavier. It is darker. All in all, it rocks really hard for a mainstream band that stemmed from the likes of Creed. The guitars are blazing throughout the vast majority of this sixty-six minute mammoth of a record (and we’ll discuss its length later), with skilled, diversified drumming matching the intensity with each thunderous beat. The opening riff of “Slip Into the Void” is a primary example of Alter Bridge’s passionate focus on creating a darker edge. “Isolation” maintains that edge, and to be truthful, the band never loses it. Each song, even the ballads, plays a part in contributing to the overall atmosphere. And that is one phase in which AB III
actually surpasses Blackbird
: it is noticeably more consistent. Considering Tremonti’s impressive shredding and the abundance of well-placed guitar solos, this is definitely a good thing.
The problem with AB III
is that it spreads itself too thin. There is an abundance of quality material here, but at over an hour in length, it becomes a chore to listen to. Let’s face it, Alter Bridge is not a post-rock wonder. Their music, as enjoyable and accessible as it may be, does not have the rise and fall, ebb and flow progression necessary to make an album of this length constantly engaging. And it shouldn’t
; this is mainstream hard rock, not Godspeed You! Black Emperor! Yet for some reason, AB III
is drawn-out by moments of filler that clog the album’s flow and makes it feel, as Alter Bridge critics love to point out, repetitive
. Tracks like “Breathe Again” and “Still Remains” don’t bring anything new to the table, and worse yet, they take what should be a strength (consistency) and turn it into a weakness (redundancy). The same can be said about “Show Me a Sign”, which clocks in at just under six minutes. Listening to an album all the way through is almost a spiritual experience, and its delicate balance can ill afford to suffer the likes of those time wasters. Like length, catchiness shouldn’t be the sole determining factor of an album’s success. But it at least needs to be memorable more often than not. In mainstream rock, a genre that lives and dies by the single, you need to have a catchy verse or a grand chorus to accentuate the instrumental proficiency on display. Unfortunately, for all of its thrilling intensity, AB III
doesn’t boast much to look back on and remember.
is a hit and
miss album. Fans of Alter Bridge will have a field day with the abundance of delicious riffs and the record’s overall immensity. Kennedy’s vocals are once again spot on, as he shows impressive range while hitting all of his notes. There is also no doubt this is the band’s heaviest album to date – it creates a dark, brooding atmosphere. However, as many critics have pointed out, Alter Bridge does
have a tendency to get repetitive with their chord progressions and overall song structures. Just like with the band’s returning strengths, it also appears that their weaknesses have returned, except in even greater numbers. Alter Bridge has no doubt created a solid, if not exceptional album technically
. But its lack of memorable moments, combined with excessive length and filler, make AB III
boil down to an instrumentally impressive album that does not live up to its potential.