Saturday, 19 November 2022

ALBUM REVIEW: Alter Bridge, "Pawns & Kings"

By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/10/2022
Label: Napalm Records

“Pawns & Kings” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1. This Is War
2. Dead Among The Living
3. Silver Tongue
4. Sin After Sin
5. Stay
6. Holiday
7. Fable Of The Silent Son
8. Season Of Promise
9. Last Man Standing
10. Pawns & Kings
The Review:

Alter Bridge are now one of a very few select rock acts who hold arena headlining status- or at least one of the few who have existed for less than twenty years- there is no shortage of should-be-retired-bands around. On that basis, I greet every release of theirs with interest as they represent a gateway to harder rock and metal as well as being a fine band in their own right. They have a surprising breadth of styles within their sound- from soaring melodies to thrashing riffs- all delivered with a slick production sheen that is ready made for rock radio and arena stages.
“Pawns & Kings” is their seventh studio effort since their 2004 debut- testament to their work ethic. It is also much more focussed than recent outings. There are ten tracks here- a proper album length! After some poppier diversions on “The Last Hero” and synth-ier diversions on “Walk The Sky”, the band are back to what they do best here: guitar pyrotechnics, rock songs, rock sounds.
This is easily the best AB album since “Fortress” and sits nicely alongside their holy trinity of “Blackbird”, “AB III” and “Fortress”. The album starts pretty heavy with “This is War” and the band makes use of the thrashier leanings of Mark Tremonti on “Silver Tongue” with its lightning fast riffage and time changes. Even on the slower material- such as “Sin After Sin”- the band sound darker and more focussed than they have for some time.
In terms of musicianship, the drumming from Scott Philips is excellent throughout- varied, great use of the kit and some tasteful double pedal work here and there. It blends seamlessly with the bass of Brian Marshall and the two together form a distinctive rhythm section that sound fluid no matter what the tempo. The guitar work- as per- is sublime. In Myles Kennedy the band have a frontman with a golden voice- no signs of deterioration whatsoever even in his 50s.
The band still have some melodic syrup too- “Stay” is slick and sweet in equal measure and closed the first half of the album. Side two kicks off with a pretty belting rocker in the form of “Holiday”, though. From there, it is more melody and less foot on the pedal. However, the likes of “Season of Promise” and “Last Man Standing” are well crafted songs; with no shortage of solos and riffs. The title track closes this impressive selection of songs in some style. The band have a knack for strong title tracks and this is no exception. It’s dark, varied, anthemic and essential Alter Bridge.
Overall, then, this is strong throughout and an impressive return to the kind of dark heavy rock that the band do best. Indeed, everything good about the band is to be found over the course of these ten tracks and “Pawns & Kings” is easily up there with the best in AB’s catalogue.
“Pawns & Kings” is available now

Band info: Official