Review by Mabh Savage
This album is really not what I expected. The opening track, Cry of Achilles begins with a Spanish guitar then starts rocking out, and then suddenly we’re in the realms of epic power metal anthems! Not to everyone’s taste but I’m instantly intrigued. I love hearing heavy metal with good, melodic vocals. Growling and roaring has its merits, true, but Myles Kennedy has a gorgeous voice and clearly has no shame (nor should he) about flaunting his talents. The production plays on this, echoing and playing with harmonies until his dulcet tones are wrapped around your head.
Addicted to Pain is, as the title would suggest, a touch darker than the opener, with a scorching guitar solo bringing in the last chorus. The album continues to get heavier with Bleed it Dry, where his vocals start to make me think of Audioslave; the same heartfelt energy but backed up by chromatic and crunchy guitars.
Lover lays the mood back a little; softer and less heavy but no less epic and moving than the first few tracks. This is the moody yet edgy style that speaks of Pearl Jam, and this is when I remember that most of the band used to be Creed, and suddenly it all makes sense.
With The Uninvited we are subjected to a spooky opening that could be straight out of a horror film soundtrack, which quickly becomes a heavy hitting tune that will get stuck in my head all day. Peace is Broken continues in a similar vein with yet another catchy as hell chorus and a killer guitar hook in the verse.
Calm The Fire shows yet more incredible feats of Mr Kennedy’s vocal gymnastics, almost to the point of self-indulgence, but honestly, even though it is a little over the top, it’s a world away from the grunge-style ‘only sing in vowels’ or the stereotypical ‘everything must be aggressive’; it’s quite refreshing.
Waters Rising paddles temporarily back to the grungy shores of its forefathers, but doesn’t get mired there; it’s still a pounding rock tune. It makes me want to grow my hair long again so I can spin it around in a huge circle. Farther than the Sun brings back those wailing guitar solos and is an absolute belter. Cry Me a River takes the tempo up a notch with a cheeky little chorus that quickly gives way to a pure metal guitar lick. All Ends Well is sad but atypical for a rock ballad; the changes are intelligent and keep the interest even though this is probably the least heavy track on the album. I might have had a little tear in my eye during the chorus. Just a little one.
The title track Fortress, while being the longest track on the album, is by no means the most powerful. Um, it kind of goes on a bit really, although it’s crunchy and heavy and Kennedy’s vocals do not disappoint.
Despite this, the album is definitely staying on my current playlists. I actually like every song on the album, which is unusual for me; although the ‘wailing vocals, guitar solo’ formula gets a bit samey at times, the album is put together in such a way that as soon as you start thinking that, something different comes along and makes you go ‘oh…’. Fans of nineties grunge will like this; fans of power metal will like this; fans of out and out rock music will love this.
Although Alter Bridge rose from the still smouldering embers of Creed, they are clearly a force to be reckoned with. This is proper rock music; not really subscribing to any genre although there are blast-beats, wailing guitars and soaring vocals that can all be found in many of the endless sub genres of metal. They are described as ‘Post Grunge‘ which I guess is quite accurate; it’s like grunge got a back bone and a bad ass ‘tude. Or had a love child with Heavy Metal and gave birth to a beautiful, bouncy, melodious baby. That’s it in fact. Alter Bridge is the spawn of Father Grunge and Mother Metal. Better take this baby home.