Review Summary: Tremonti's solo debut showcases his adept guitar playing and song writing while adding another talent to the list - singing.
DISCLAIMER: I'm a Mark Tremonti fanboy. This may or may not be evident in this review.
First thing's first, 'All I Was' is a metal record. Some of Mark's playing on past Creed and Alter Bridge records has been reminiscent of metal, such as "Ties That Bind" (Alter Bridge) or "Bullets" (Creed), but both bands are predominantly rock/hard rock bands. With this record, however, Mark isn't being held back by genre limitations of said bands, and he really lets his inner metal head out. Tremonti's deep voice is perfect for this type of music. Speeding guitar work, double bass drumming, shredding solos. You name it, 'All I Was' has it. Lead single "You Waste Your Time" exhibits Tremonti's metal side wonderfully with its thrashy riff, loud vocals, and pounding drums. "Wish You Well" is another metal song, and ends up being the fastest and heaviest on the album. The song's frantic pace gives it a sense of urgency and keeps you on your toes as soon as the opening riff kicks in, up to the guitar solo (which is one of the best on the album), all the way to the slower paced, dark-sounding "Brains." This song slows down the pace of the album a bit in order to prepare for the emotionally driven "The Things I've Seen." The track opens with a Creed-esque riff, but goes on to boast one of Mark's finest vocal performances on the whole album. Other than some ballad-like qualities on "The Things I've Seen," the only actual ballad on the record is "New Way Out." The powerful vocal performance and optimistic lyrics make this a highlight of the album, as well as containing my favorite solo.
Speaking of solos, this album is filled to the brim with Tremonti's melodic leads that he's shown countless times with Alter Bridge and Creed. Ten out of the record's twelve songs include solos, all fast, melodic, and tasteful. On some tracks, such as "Proof," the guitar solo actually ends up being the best part.
The only noticeable downsides to this record are the somewhat predictable song structures and the generic lyrics. Nearly all of the songs follow the basic intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus formula that most bands in the genre seem to hold dear. Though Tremonti's excellent songwriting almost forgives this, it's still there and it can get tiresome. The lyrics are not bad by any means. They fit the context of the album very well. However, much of the lyrics on here sounds like its been done before, but I guess that's what happens when you're one of the primary songwriters for another band (Alter Bridge). These are the only two faults I have with the album, and even those aren't enough to keep this from being one the greatest heavy metal records of the year for me
"All I Was"
"New Way Out"
"The Things I've Seen"
"You Waste Your Time"