Review Summary: Alter Bridge brings an album that's a worthy followup of One Day Remains. The standard win formula is not applied to all songs and many of them sound more metal orientated, not to talk about the little masterpiece this album has brought, Blackbird the son
When first listening to this album I already knew this was not gonna be like One Day Remains. If I wouldn't have heard their first single Rise Today, I'd have thought this was gonna be one chunk of metal bashing my brains. To some extent, it is.
On Fact Remains and it probably will, Alter Bridge form an important part of today's rock elite and I really like the metal influenced riffage and room for guitarsolo's which is rather fresh in popular rock music. Maybe Alter Bridge can really alter, maybe they are able to be the band slowly serving more metal influences to the crowd, making people (very) slowly understand what's great about metal. Everyone has a little beast inside, it just rarely pops out and when it does, it's often formed by an unexpected explosion of frustration, hate and anger. I believe heavy rock and metal can be channeling, you just need to present it carefully, in small bits and pieces, slowly building up. In that regard, Blackbird is a big step in the right direction in general but also compared to their debute.
Ofcourse bringing metal to the masses is not the main priority. The priority is making music that gets a grip on you and that's what Alter Bridge foremost succeeds in. I will not discuss half of all songs here, but I'm 22 years old now and the more music I hear the harder it is for bands to blow me away and impress me. Alter Bridge however, did it once again. First of all it amazes me they're able to write another album without any bad song. This shows quality is not luck, but cause of great musicianship. Secondly, feeling chills down your spine is an occasion everyone should know (if not, you seriously haven't discovered enough music in your life). It's also an occasion that's very rare for me and probably for many people. It happened loads when I was a teenager where rock/metal was a completely new genre for me. Chills I still get a lot at live performances, especially when there's people singing along. The power of the masses is not to be underestimated. Unfortunately, many good bands fall into the soundman's mudhole. This world still counts many bad soundmen and good sound really is the work for a good show. Luckily the production on this album again perfectly suits Alter Bridge and in that regard there's not much difference with One Days Remains. Chills went down my spine again, and it was equally titled song Blackbird. Tears almost got in my eyes. It's the longest song of the album, but it felt much shorter than 8 minutes, because it had a constant grip on me. Tremonti and Kennedy have let the tension built up progress very well in this song. This is something that rarely happens in the standard pop-structure rocksongs (logical for a 3-4 minutes song), but is heard more often in genres like avant garde blackmetal. Blackbird builts up to a climax that's done with incredible craftmanship. It's not boring for one second and not one part is one too much. Scott knows how to support music very well, but at parts like 6:10 there was space to truly shine and blow people away. Unfortunately I didn't heard much else than in the rest of the song, except for a few triplet fills, but as said, it was enough to bring the chills. Blackbird truly is a masterpiece that many rockbands can see as example. Eight minute songs will not make it to the radio, but it's just proven they suit a rock album just fine.
Not all is magic on this album though. The typical semi-positive verses sometimes sound repetative and I actually did hear a few of (almost) the same riffs as on One Day Remains, but that's likely because the drumrhythms that got along with the riffs were exactly the same. Scott indeed does sound repetative on almost the entire album with the typical offbeat accents and simple singlestroke rolls with a few accents, but what can you expect from a rock drummer? That may be a good question, but there's still much opportunities in breaks, fills and bridges, especially at climax moments in songs. There's enough space in any music genre for interesting play, as long as you can balance it with song support (more basic rhythms that don't needlessly draw attention away from the song as a whole). Being a drummer myself, I have the disease to pay too much attention to the drums the first few listening rounds, making the album as a whole not deserve the attention it needs. After four turns in my player though, the missing pieces finally reached my ears and it's been a blast. The album surely has a downside but the heavy pro's drill that into the ground with ease.
Blackbird the album is what good chemistry and musicship can bring. As long as Alter Bridge knows how to progress and let loose the sometimes cheesy verses (if just partly), for instance by adding more dark/evil/melodramatic atmospheres (I name 30sec to Mars - Edge of the Earth verse), they shall definately be one of the best rockbands of the last few decades when it comes to music craftmanship.