Review Summary: Hardly the departure from Alter Bridge that was promised, but still a successful solo debut from Tremonti.
My reaction to Mark Tremonti’s announcement of a solo album was a mixed one. While Alter Bridge has allowed him to blossom and really come into his own as a guitar player, the fact that he could still be a part of something mediocre like Full Circle
really showed that having Myles Kennedy as a co-songwriter was a big reason for how great his performance was on Blackbird
and AB III
. There’s a reason I consider myself an Alter Bridge fan before a Tremonti fan or a Kennedy fan: they really bring out the best in each other and are significantly weaker when not working together. A solo album featuring more metal influence and shredding solos was a promising idea but raised the question of whether or not Tremonti had the goods to deliver a consistent effort on his own.
With All I Was
, Tremonti has proven that he indeed had enough original ideas to warrant giving a solo album a try. No one really expected this to be a pure balls-to-the-wall metal album despite Tremonti’s claims, but he does push the heaviness farther than he does in Alter Bridge, with most songs being driven by heavy riffs. Although this is still melodic rock music at its core, Tremonti’s thrash metal influence is seen throughout the album, and it should be no surprise for Alter Bridge fans that the songs that utilize it the most are usually highlights on the album.
The real question with Tremonti’s solo album was how well he would handle taking over lead vocals. He proved himself to be a great vocalist in Alter Bridge when he provided that crucial second part to the melody in the chorus of Come To Life
and then went on to share the lead on Words Darker Than Their Wings
, but lead vocals for a full album is an entirely different task in itself. His voice, while not as distinctive as Myles’, is more than strong enough to carry the album. The Things I’ve Seen
is a pretty standard ballad in structure, but Tremonti’s powerful vocal performance lifts it into being one of the highlights. The album makes a great case for giving Tremonti a little more time on the mic in future Alter Bridge albums.
All I Was
has all the elements of a great mainstream rock album, and it is, in fact, a great mainstream rock album. The main problem with the album is with Tremonti’s songwriting itself. He doesn’t push himself beyond the barriers of the genre. The balance between heaviness and melody is his bread and butter, and it’s worked wonders in Alter Bridge, but it’s also what holds him back on here. Most of the songs are great on their own (apart from the boring ballad New Way Out
), but as a whole All I Was
lacks variety, something that becomes more evident in the second half of the album. If Tremonti had pushed the heaviness a bit more like he did with the fast-paced Wish You Well
, the darker Brains
, and the speed metal breakdown in the title track, he would have had an amazing album that really did
distinguish itself from Alter Bridge. But the album’s insistence on being mostly mid-tempo and having the same sort of melodic chorus in every song keeps it from being as good as it could have been.
The biggest disappointment on the album is the soloing. Now, Tremonti certainly still shows that he’s a talented guitarist who can shred and keep it interesting, but with the exception of the lengthy break in opener Leave It Alone
he doesn’t do anything out of the box. Given that he’s created solos as epic and lyrical as the ones in Brand New Start
, he can certainly do better than the lead work on here suggests. The solos are still very good, but they don’t stack up to most of the solos he’s done in Alter Bridge, which is a shame given that he had room to let loose a little more here and really show his skills.
Yet even with its minor flaws, All I Was
is a solid album through and through. With all the disappointments in the last few years of mainstream rock it certainly is better and rocks harder than most other recent releases in the genre. But unsurprisingly, it doesn’t match up with the best that Tremonti can do and has done in Alter Bridge. It also probably won’t change any minds on Tremonti, since although it’s a bit heavier, most of what he does on this album isn’t far from what he’s already been doing in Alter Bridge. Regardless, even if it doesn’t quite demonstrate all he is, Tremonti’s solo debut is still a strong hard rock album that’s definitely worth listening to.
All I Was
Wish You Well
Leave It Alone
The Things I’ve Seen