Sunday, 2 October 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Alter Bridge - "The Last Hero"

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/10/2016
Label: Napalm Records

 
 
If you have any interest in the more commercial end of the rock and metal spectrum i.e. Metallica, Maiden, Soundgarden and so on then this album could be a fine intro to the band. If you are a fan already you will enjoy this one immensely. Alter Bridge are leading lights in modern rock and may well be the last of a dying breed.
 
“The Last Hero” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1). Show Me A Leader
2). The Writing On The Wall
3). The Other Side
4). My Champion
5). Poison In Your Veins
6). Cradle To The Grave
7). Losing Patience
8). This Side Of Fate
9). You Will Be Remembered
10). Crows On A Wire
11). Twilight
12). Island Of Fools
13). The Last Hero
14). Last Of Our Kind (Bonus Track)
 
The Review:
 
Alter Bridge are, of course, not sludge, or doom, or even metal really. They operate at the very start of the alternative/heavy music spectrum and could perhaps be described as modern hard rock- albeit with some metallic elements. Even though the band are all around the 40 years old mark, they are still one of the “younger” big bands and as such represent what can be achieved while playing real guitar music: you really can headline arenas if you get things right. After all, Iron Maiden aren't going to be around forever- and nor will Metallica.
 
“The Last Hero” finds the band in reflective mood and is the fifth album from the men who (sadly) made up the instrumental section of Creed (great musicians, mind) along with the prodigiously talented Myles Kennedy. “Show Me A Leader” kicks off with an intro and hooks galore there are  “woah-oh-woah-oh” Maiden-esque vocalisations, a huge solo, riffs and time and changes. In all, this is Alter Bridge's sound: melodic, sometimes heavy, most definitely rocking.
 
“The Writing On The Wall” is an up-tempo rocker with a big chorus, Kennedy's voice soaring. The album delivers two facets of the band in the first two tracks and does not stop there. “The Other Side” is slow and dark with more than a little Sabbath influence to the riffs. A storming and different track for the band with political and social commentary rather than their usual introspective leanings. This is great stuff.
 
“My Champion” screams “single” at you; hooks, positive vibes, anthemic sounds. The record sounds gorgeous, of course- as all Alter Bridge's albums have. The sound is thick, rich and vibrant with all instruments shining through in the mix. A slick monster of a track.
 
“Poison In Your Veins” turns up the heaviness- more akin to something from the recent Tremonti solo albums- and rocks along with intent and a big chorus. Each band member pulls their weight here, highlighting the fact that Alter Bridge have four superlative musicians in the line up. Again, for the big bands this is important. Think over the annals of rock history: weak links stand out. There are none here.
 
“Cradle to the Grave” is almost a throw back to some of the bands earlier work- more melodic, downbeat... but still wonderfully structured and delivered. Truthfully, I prefer the band's harder rocking material- but that is not to say that the more balladic stuff is without merit (see “Blackbird” in particular). “Losing Patience” ratchets up the riff factor and utilises interesting time changes and melodies. “This Side of Fate” shifts to more epic fare- slower tempos, elaborate soloing from Tremonti, and layers of guitars. It delivers the records most complex arrangement and production but does not quite reach the heights of “Blackbird” from 2007.
 
“You Will Be Remembered” is a ballad that is rather too American and anthemic for my tastes; perhaps it is a little too sweet. Naturally, the hooks are very strong though and you can certainly imagine this being played during a montage of a retiring NFL player- which could be a good thing, depending on your view point. Fortunately, “Crows on a Wire” comes back swinging with a fantastic riff, pinch harmonics and enough weight to appease those wanting to bang their heads. This is the material which the band excels at, in my view: heavy rock but still with melody. The band are operating at full whack here with nothing wasted over the four and half minutes.
 
“Twilight” shows another facet of the band- bitter sweet melodies and melancholic lyrical content. A fine track and sounds like an album closer to me. Again, this may be a strange comparison, but this is the second time in this review that I have mentioned Iron Maiden. I am not saying that the bands are alike, exactly, but both bands have a knack for writing complex but catchy music and Alter Bridge seems to have taken some pointers for vocal melodies and arrangements. “Island of Fools features a kind of call and response arrangement to the riffage in the verses and then echoes the rolling riffs of “Cry of Achilles” from the preceding “Fortress” album. A fine up -tempo rocker to keep the listener awake down the back stretch.
 
The title track closes out this tour de force of modern rock music, stretching out over six and half minutes and mixing melody, muscle and even twin kick passages with an impressive dynamic range. “The Last Hero”, then, is a winner. By estimation the record is uniformly strong with only a balladic slip up here and there that is just not to my taste. It is excellently played, produced, arranged and realised and stands shoulder to shoulder with the band's best work prior (“ABIII” and “Fortress”). If you have any interest in the more commercial end of the rock and metal spectrum i.e. Metallica, Maiden, Soundgarden and so on then this album could be a fine intro to the band. If you are a fan already you will enjoy this one immensely. Alter Bridge are leading lights in modern rock and may well be the last of a dying breed. 
The Last Hero” is available here
 
Band info: facebook

1 comment:

rockalyrics.com said...

not liking this album too much till now, seems a step down in quality and maybe too predictible. check lyrics here if someone needs http://www.rockalyrics.com/151-5313/alter-bridge/the-last-hero-lyrics.html