21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Great album...here's a longish and formal review for it!,
This review is from: Blackbird (Audio CD)
Following the success of Alter Bridges debut Album "One day remains" was never going to be easy. Such was the critical acclaim of the aforementioned album that it had fans packing themselves into modest arenas. And although their first tour of the UK was a modicum of success, it was the second tour of the UK where the band gained such a high reputation for providing a thrilling live experience. So with the first effort being so well received could Blackbird re-produce that same quality and excitement or even better it.
Well appetites have been whet with the single "Rise today", a rock song that is typical of Alter Bridge as it epitomizes their trademark melodies and sing-along choruses. And there is still enough of the classic Alter Bridge sound that fans have accustomed to on Blackbird to keep them happy. Songs such as the previously mentioned "Rise today", "Brand new start" and "Before tomorrow comes" proving this. However the band has clearly taken a new aggressive approach in some of their writing. This has incorporated itself in a greater use of riffs and an altogether heavier sound.
The album starts off in a similar fashion to One day remains, with two hard rocking tracks that will have heads bobbing and arms thrusting in arenas with no trouble at all. Then, again like the first album, opts to slow down the momentum and what we're left with is "Brand new start" an up-lifting ballad, in the same vain that "Broken Wings" was.
One of the differences between the two albums is that the first, One day remains, was written largely before Tremonti and Co. appointed lead singer Myles Kennedy. Therefore this time round Alter Bridge have made full use in what has turned out to be a indispensable weapon in their song-writing approach. With Kennedy integrated as second guitarist it also adds much more harmony as it is utilized to good effect in riffs as well as providing backing for Tremonti's solos or visa versa. And Kennedy's influence is duly noted on tracks such as "Before tomorrow comes" and the beautifully melancholic "Watch over you", both of which are reminiscent of the Mayfield Four.
The song writing and the structures of the songs have improved no end and given the quality of the first album that is indeed a statement to take note of. The songs contain more riffs each one as, if not, more aggressive and sinister sounding than the last such can be found in "Come to life" and "White knuckles", two very brutal riffs if there ever was. And there are much more intricate melodic lines to keep the listener hooked with Tremonti paying homage to his blues influences and his rock influences, the likes of Eddie Van Halen and Zakk Wylde can be picked out especially on "Buried Alive" where Tremonti produces some Van Halen style whamming bar fills and on the album title track "Blackbird" where Tremonti ushers out some Wylde style solos but in every solo evident on the album Tremonti's own style of shred has a prominent role.
It is fair to say that Alter Bridge have kept with the sound that has served them so well and still play to their strong card of sing-along choruses and rock ballads "One by One" being the particular favourite, but not one fan should complain about any of the individual songs. However it would seem they have clearly subdued the urge to over use the clichéd soft - heavy song pattern that was so prominent during the first effort. Yet they still allow each song and the listener to have a breather and keep it interesting until it kicks off again.
Each individual member is also given their moment to shine and show how much they have improved over the years, most notable Mark Tremonti making full use of his shredding ability. However, it would be harsh not to mention the good work done by Scott Philips on drums as his patterns and ideas really do give each song a little extra in quality especially on "Coming home".
While the individuals have clearly been practising, one can also hear that as a group they are gelling more and more as each song contains at least one section of brilliant band dynamics, one might even go as far to say there are some prog influenced sections in various songs for example "Blackbird".
Perhaps inevitably though the latter part of the album does lack the same excitement, which was evident in the first half. With the latter songs sounding trite in sound and lacking the cutting edge ideas that was previously displayed to great effect.
All in all this is a very progressive album and certainly lives up to the standard set by One day remains. The band has clearly taken their writing to the next level and has produced some truly remarkable songs. All the while balancing their typical sound and integrating a developing heavier and aggressive one, which makes the album sound as if it is split between the old Alter Bridge and the new heavier Alter Bridge. Such a remark seems bizarre after two albums but given the significantly aggressive nature of some tracks it seems a fair point.