Speaking as someone who was fairly indifferent to Creed when they were hogging the airwaves earlier this decade, I was never really compelled to check out Mark Tremonti's spin off, Alter Bridge. I mean, I did hear that 'One Day Remains' song and write it off as being too similar to the band from whence he came, but that's about it.
A few years passed, and the only time his name popped up was when I was deciding what guitar to spend my hard-earned cash on, and it ended up being a PRS Tremonti SE. Fast forward to a few weeks ago - on learning they'd stuck together long enough to pump out a second effort, I decided to give it a shot. Well, surprise! Instead of the modern hard rock snoozefest that I was expecting, the way it opened with 'Ties That Bind' had me doing a double take. Lowdown, fast riffs, some cool usage of doubled guitars and a decent solo thrown in as well - a hell of a difference from his near-comatose performance with Creed. Plus, he's got this fat, mean guitar tone to boot.
The songs that follow mostly alternate between mid-tempo grooving, laidback opened up passages and those familiar powerchord-slam choruses. It's nothing new, nothing spectacular, but behind it all, there's a clear sense of someone who wants to get better, and is actually doing something about it. I could have done without a few things, like the 8 minute title track, which doesn't sell itself enough to justify that length, and well, the inevitable same-y sound that modern rock brings to the table. It's less evident here than other bands within the genre that I've heard, but they can do better. And that sappy 'Watch Over You' sounds a bit too much like something a dick with an acoustic guitar knocks together when he's trying to get into some girl's pants.
I'm not altogether impressed with Myles Kennedy's vocals though. They're not outright bad, but just nothing much above the ordinary. Ideally, Tremonti should get together with Brent Smith from Shinedown and Matt Taul from Tantric, and start cranking. I suspect the result may be some damn good mainstream fare.
I really don't have any bonafide reasons for you to get this album if you abhor this kind of music. There's lots better out there, but I had a pretty good time with this and was pleasantly surprised overall. Call me shallow, but I feel better about having Tremonti's name on my headstock. An extra thadiyan for effort, and sneaking in the Bouree melody too.
Year of release: 2007
Label: Universal Republic Records
Mark Tremonti - guitar
Myles Kennedy - vocals
Brian Marshall - bass
Scott Phillips - drums