What would happen if the ultra-successful band known as Creed regrouped under a different name, with a different lead singer, and a different outlook on making music? Well, my curious friends, you would get Alter Bridge.
In case you didn’t know, Alter Bridge consists of lead singer/rhythm guitarist Myles Kennedy (formerly of the Mayfield Four), lead guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, and drummer Scott Phillips. The latter three were all once a part of Creed, but eventually each of them departed the band, leaving Creed six feet under. (Maybe six feet ain’t so far down? Ha!) But now, they have all come under the collective rock umbrella of Alter Bridge, trying to get rid of the Creed stigma, while letting all of the negative little raindrops roll right off of them. These raindrops come in the form of critics who feel the necessity to patter on and on about how this band’s success is due to their prior band’s success. Could that be? Could it be that the same ¾ of Creed that helped them gain worldwide recognition could be partly responsible for the success of their new band? I don’t know why everyone says this like it’s supposed to be shocking. You didn't unlock Pandora's Box, you just told us something that is common logic.
But with the band’s history aside, I will now look at their present. And their present (or rather, their gift) comes in the form of One Day Remains, the quartet’s debut album. Since we are focused on the present, for the rest of this review, I will not make any more references to Creed. I will not compare Alter Bridge’s sound to Creed’s sound, nor will I compare Myles Kennedy to Jesus Christ Superstar (a.k.a. Scott Stapp). With that said, allow me to introduce you to Alter Bridge…
1) Find the Real
Let me just go on record as saying that I am not a very religious person. I am what most people would call a non-practicing Catholic (or…lazy, as my mom likes to think of it). So I’m not really all that into the faith thing. But let me just take this opportunity to thank the Lord above for Mark Tremonti. It is the man behind AB’s axe that really breathes life into this band, and you can tell that just from the opening riff to Find the Real. In a word: blistering. I don’t think there has been anyone since Kirk Hammett who can hammer out such effective guitar riffs. What a terrific lead into there debut. What’s so great about Tremonti is that he is able to create a pounding rhythm and then throw in dive bombs and harmonics, all of these little extras (butter packets, I call them) that add some flair. So combine that with Myles Kennedy’s mesmerizing vocal pitch, and you’ve got a recipe for a musical orgasm. The climax comes when he hits that intensely long (over 10 seconds) wail of “find the real" at the end of the song. Just incredible.
2) One Day Remains
Usually, from my experiences, it seems that most recent CDs have had a tendency to make their title tracks, well…suck. That’s not the case with Alter Bridge. Quite the contrary. One Day Remains is the paramount track from this bag of goodies. Starting off with just a little bit of feedback from the amps, Tremonti builds up steam with some wah-pedal action, and then jumps into one of the most adrenaline-fueled guitar licks I have ever had the joy of hearing. This one rivals Jimmy Page and his Black Dog lick. And trust me, that is no simple task. Oh and by the way, when the hell did Scott Phillips turn into a drumming maniac? Seriously, I haven’t heard someone hit something that hard and fast since my parents got divorced. If there’s one thing that this song encompasses, more than anything else, it’s the passion that this band has.
3) Open Your Eyes
And yes, we’ve come to the obligatory lead single. This is one that I think the band put out first for obvious reasons. They didn’t want to come out too hard-hitting, because then that would probably regulate them to rock radio for the rest of their career. So they opted for a little bit lighter single to come out of the box with. It was probably a wise choice, because now they’ll be able to enjoy crossover success from pop radio as well as rock radio. When my brother first played me this song on his computer, I knew that Tremonti the man behind those six strings. It has his signature sound, for sure. But that is a good thing, not a bad thing. What truly amazed me about this song was the fact that Tremonti goes for it all on the solo and shreds to his heart’s content. There was no holding back this time around (even though pop radio stations took out the ending segue of the solo). There’s no doubt that Mr. Tremonti honed his skills before he went into the studio to record this album.
4) Burn It Down
And this is where the album really starts to slow down a bit. It’s not that it is depressing or anything like that (even though my brother will dispute that indefinitely), but it’s just a stark contrast from the rollicking tri-fecta that precedes it. However, it contains some of the most brilliant lyrics that I have heard in modern rock. Lines like “Drank so much last night I think that I drowned/But now my cup is empty" and “No one has seen my will around/And now my heart is aching" gave me the chills the first time I heard them sung.
“What does the title mean?" you ask. I don’t care. I don’t care because this song kicks so much ass that questioning the meaning behind the title would be both pointless and dumb. It starts off with Phillips showcasing his amazing drumming skills again. (This is what the drummer from Def Leppard would sound like if he still had both of his arms.) Then Tremonti & Co. kick it into high gear for the duration of the song. Never once does this song let go of its firm grip on your testes. And thank God for that, because I would much rather have bruised balls and be able to listen to these guys rock out than to have a pair of comfortable cahones and listen to some god-awful, soft-rock, Phil Collins impersonator sing about daises and loving the feel of their lips around a popsicle. And this is the first time that I really noticed Brian Marshall come out rocking with his bass. Usually, he’s pretty subdued, but on this one he gets a chance to shine.
6) Broken Wings
This, I believe, is the third single to come off of One Day Remains. I have yet to see the video for it, but I greatly enjoy this song. Tremonti shows that he has a bluesy side by opening up with something that could fit easily on an early Kenny Wayne Shepherd album. The song slides seamlessly into a down-tempo verse with Myles Kennedy keeping his voice down to a low rasp. Then they break into the typical anthemic chorus where Myles lets his voice soar over the generic backdrop that the rest of the band provides. Even through its genericy (that can’t actually be a word, can it?), they still supply a solid piece of rock that I can’t fault them for.
7) In Loving Memory
Mark Tremonti wrote this song for his recently deceased mother, who he said was the most important person in his life. Sung through the mouth of Alter Bridge’s lead singer, Myles Kennedy, I can feel his pain in the simple, but uber-emotional, lyrics. It’s almost impossible not to get just a little bit choked up from it. Another fantastic intro from Mr. Tremonti, as well.
8) Down to My Last
Myles’ voice hits notes here that Jesus Christ himself couldn’t even hit. Yes Messiah, I’m talking about you. C’mon JC, I’d like to see you get up onstage and try to hold your own against Myles. Now THAT would be a miracle. But I digress from my Lord bashing. This is mostly just another generic rock song, and its only saving grace, besides the vocals, is the awe-tastic solo from Mr. Tremonti. If I could give out an award for the Most Improved Guitarist, it would certainly go to that man and that man only. Oh, how you’ve matured Markus.
9) Watch Your Words
This is one song that I absolutely hated with a passion not seen since I was on my anti-David Blaine kick last year. (Seriously, that guy is just friggin’ creepy.) One of the main reasons that I felt so much abhorrence towards it was because I couldn’t get past the lyrics. More accurately, the opening lyrics. “Watch your words/Or you words might drown you". How could such a good songwriter write such craptastic lyrics? Talk about lame sauce! But then I saw them perform this live in concert. It was when I was watching all of them rock right the hell out that I came to appreciate this song for what it is: a chance for them to sonically slap their proverbial balls against your chin. This song has often been compared to a random assortment of Metallica songs, mostly Sad But True. While it may be partially true, it is a bit sad that Alter Bridge has already fallen victim to such comparisons. Let them be their own band! Please?
10) Shed My Skin
I have a feeling that AB is going to become the kings of superhero soundtrack offerings. Thus far, they’ve had a previously unreleased track, Save Me, appear on the Elektra OST and now Shed My Skin has been added to the Fantastic Four soundtrack. Which is okay, because I’m a big fan of superheroes (as a matter of fact, I have my own super power: I have the ability to switch hands while masturbating and gain a stroke. Hold your applause). This song is reminiscent of a big power ballad from the 80’s, with the downtrodden verses and massive chorus. Again, that’s okay, because it doesn’t launch itself into the cheesy stratosphere (cheese-o-sphere, if you will) with the likes of Winger and Bon Jovi.
11) The End Is Here
The End Is Here…aptly named for the last track. (Hey, at least it’s not called “The Last Song" like so many other unoriginal bands have labeled their departing track.) This is another song that grew on me immensely when I heard it played at their live show. I’m not sure why I had such distaste for it, because I love that lick that Tremonti plays at the intro and at the big breakdown towards the end. The only thing that still bothers me a tad is Myles vocals. This is the ONLY track where I think he tries to go a little too far. Had he backed it off a little bit more, it would have fit better with the overall song. But it’s a relatively small qualm, one of the only that I have with this CD, actually.
Hey look at that, I made it through the entire album review without once mentioning Creed.........DAMMIT. Damn it all to hell! I was within a snail’s genitals of making it, too. Oh well.
Let me go ahead and give you three reasons why you should pick up this CD. 1) Mark Tremonti…need I say more? 2) Myles Kennedy has the most flexible range around. And 3) For every copy that’s sold, Scott Stapp has to say a penance…whilst being nailed to his bed...and being forced to listen to "With Arms Wide Open" over and over. Go pick this one up.