Alter Bridge
Fortress


4.5
superb

Review

by Austin USER (41 Reviews)
October 8th, 2013 | 356 replies | 33,795 views


Release Date: 10/08/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An exceptional hard rock album that finds Alter Bridge at a creative high.

35 of 37 thought this review was well written

Alter Bridge didn’t have to make an album like Fortress. They could have continued to make minor tweaks to the winning formula they built on Blackbird and still produced quality music, as AB III demonstrated. They could have played it safe and still written great songs. However, anyone who expected this album to simply be “AB IV” will be pleasantly surprised. Not only is Fortress better than its predecessor, it’s the most musically accomplished album the band has put out.

Mark Tremonti is a man on a mission on Fortress, delivering what is, aside from Blackbird’s title track, his most inspired work to date. He embraces his abilities as a riff machine, consistently balancing heavy, intricate, and often technical guitarwork with the right amount of melody throughout the album while avoiding the monotony that often plagued his solo debut. Fortress features his best collection of solos since Blackbird, and Tremonti never feels too restrained or held back, displaying his talent whenever he gets the chance. The lengthy, emotional solo in Bleed it Dry in particular shows how great his phrasing has become. Tremonti also makes his debut as a lead vocalist in Waters Rising, and it’s more dynamic and interesting than anything on his solo album. His vocal performance is more confident, the soft-heavy transitions are more fluid and Myles appearing as a “guest” vocalist in the bridge gives the song even more depth.

On the rest of the album, where Myles takes the lead, he matches Mark’s improved guitarwork by getting more diverse with his vocal melodies. He gets plenty of chances to display his marvelous high-pitched wail, but he also makes more use of his lower register this time around. The dark ballad Lover, a track clearly influenced by his days in Mayfield Four, is a showcase for Myles that lets him utilize the full extent of his range. Overall, the diversity in the songwriting allows his vocals to be more differentiated than they were on AB III, particularly in the choruses. There are plenty of catchy hooks to be found, but the choruses try less hard to be epic and thus fit the songs even better. While there are still anthems abound on Fortress, tracks like The Uninvited benefit from avoiding an epic, dramatic chorus where it wouldn’t have fit. Myles also continues to contribute more guitarwork to the band, as multiple songs feature him and Mark trading off solos and he more than holds his own.

Fortress is the sound of a band inspired, a band willing to experiment and break out of a successful formula to grow as artists. Every member strives for improvement on this album: the drums are more memorable and diverse, and thanks to the improved production the bass is finally audible, leading to several standout moments. With the band chemistry being as good as it is, the band is able to successfully attempt multi-part epics. Cry of Achilles, the progressive rock-leaning opener, immediately dispels any fears of the band playing it safe with a captivating acoustic intro, diverse riffing, a spirited performance from Myles, and a pair of ripping guitar solos. The album’s 8-minute title track avoids the comparison to Blackbird by being a different beast altogether, with a similarly epic feel but a heavier focus as the song reaches its midpoint and Mark and Myles perform a guitar duel reminiscent of 80’s metal.

Technicality aside, the songs in Fortress are just fun to listen to, being both layered and memorable. Peace is Broken marries a rapid-fire riff with one of the catchiest sing-along choruses in the band’s catalog, while Calm the Fire is a huge, bombastic anthem that’s full of energy and carried by a powerhouse performance by Myles. Despite Fortress being by far the band’s heaviest album yet, no two songs on the album sound alike and each has something unique to offer. Even All Ends Well, the only traditional ballad to be found on the album and easily its weakest point due to its cliché lyrics, manages to have a winning melody that elevates it.

There were high expectations for Fortress, and Alter Bridge has managed to surpass them, creating an album that fans wouldn’t necessarily have predicted to come from them. While inevitable comparisons will arise between Fortress and Blackbird, it’s ultimately irrelevant because Fortress never tries to be another Blackbird. What Fortress does is set a new standard for the band going forward, one of continual growth as artists and the willingness to step out of a safe formula to make memorable hard rock in an era where that kind of music is in short supply. Alter Bridge still has plenty of surprises left in them, and if Fortress is any indication, those surprises will be well worth discovering.



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user ratings (344)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
AaronBatt (4.5)
this Fortress will stand strong for years to come......

Christopher Geriak (4)
"If only I had found a way to tell you all the things you should've known"...


Comments:Add a Comment 
tiesthatbind
October 8th 2013



7371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Naturally, it would be this album that finally gets me out of my reviewing slump.

I still don't even have an overall favorite from the album.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

greg84
Staff Reviewer
October 8th 2013



7306 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

*the band has put out... at the end of para 1.

Good review. Have a pos.

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings

VheissuCrisis
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2013



847 Comments


Loved Blackbird, ABIII didn't grab me. Listening to Bleed It Dry now. Pos.

tiesthatbind
October 8th 2013



7371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks greg, don't know how I didn't catch that. Fixed.

pizzamachine
October 8th 2013



12571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

They're no Ra, good review. ;)

Puckoff
October 8th 2013



35 Comments


Never really heard these guys, but it seems like put out solid album after solid album.

EvoHavok
October 8th 2013



1336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome job, ties!

Digging: Ningen-Isu - Burai Houjou

dmp3131
October 8th 2013



540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Definitely have a pos. Great review, was waiting for yours. Need to listen to this a few more times. Balancing on a 4.2 - 4.3 for me, but since I can't rate like that I may bump it up to a 4.5. Calm the Fire is the most powerful song I've heard in a long, long time. This album is amazing.

tiesthatbind
October 8th 2013



7371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, guys. I'm glad to see this album getting so much love on here.

And I'll definitely check that Ra stream a bit later, pizzaman. I haven't listened to them in a while so maybe this will change that.

Toondude10
October 8th 2013



3357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

You stole my spot you...pos'd

Don't think the record is a 4.5 though

Digging: Hey Rosetta! - Seeds

Ecnalzen
October 8th 2013



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Heard most of this at work today and really liked everything except All Ends Well.

Digging: O.C. and Apollo Brown - Trophies

pizzamachine
October 8th 2013



12571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"And I'll definitely check that Ra stream a bit later, pizzaman."

muahaha excellent

Toondude10
October 8th 2013



3357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Lol

tiesthatbind
October 8th 2013



7371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Heard most of this at work today and really liked everything except All Ends Well.

It's pretty much their concession toward fans who expect an uplifting ballad on every AB album. I'm just glad they kept it confined to one song toward the end, doesn't really hurt the album much that way.

TooManyFriends
October 8th 2013



486 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

All Ends Well rules.... or at least the chorus does, i can't even care about the cheesy-ish lyrics when the chorus hits

MuhNamesTyler
October 8th 2013



3694 Comments


Good review POS

Sweet album, only listened a couple of times but I think Bleed It Dry might be my favorite

Toondude10
October 8th 2013



3357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

First three tracks are definitely some of AB's best.

Ecnalzen
October 8th 2013



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

All Ends Well seemed a little shoe horned in there with the rest of those tracks, but yeah, the chorus redeems the verses a little bit. The lyrics that I picked out were super cheesy, but I only heard it once, though, so maybe I will end up liking it a bit more later on.

Toondude10
October 8th 2013



3357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I can't seem to get interested in both Calm the Fire and All Ends Well for some reason. I just don't find them all that memorable, though Calm the Fire definitely is a good track.

MuhNamesTyler
October 9th 2013



3694 Comments


Tremonti sure does love fuckin around on that top string



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