Alter Bridge – “The Last Hero” (Napalm Records)
Internationally renowned following the release of their debut that went gold, Alter Bridge have ridden the rock stratosphere over 5 albums with little sign of flagging in their top notch studio and live performances. I was awed and a little surprised when I first heard that this post grunge alt rock band were signing to leading metal label Napalm, regarded itself for having some punishing and extreme acts in its roster. Was it an attempt to ‘diversify’? Well maybe, but the most important point is that neither the band nor the label have actually sold out! In fact, “The Last Hero” takes me back to the glory of the band’s 2007 release “Blackbird” that bowled me over with its guitar driven intensity and grunge heaviness, although in all fairness, the 13 tracks here could easily span across all the band’s releases. Some 3 years in the making, this album encapsulates what great hard rock albums at the elite level should be all about. In Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti, Alter Bridge have 2 aces and their supreme talent is captured all over these clearly hard grafted tunes through monster hooks n grooves and melodies. Big melodies. But not the wimpish, crooning girlie kind but the mammoth, ball grabbing kind that goes straight to your soul in defining what red blooded rock should be all about. From Kennedy and Tremonti’s stand out performances the heavy, thumping rhythm of Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips should not – and cannot – be ignored as they add the backing essence to what makes this band so great. Try the guitar god rocker of opener of ‘Show Me A Leader’ that will have your horns up in a frenzy (and that’s even before Tremonti’s blinding solo) or the post grunge brilliance of ‘This Side Of Fate’ with its deep choruses augmented by layers of guitars harmonized by quieter, soulful passages. Later these come into their own bitter sweet bliss on the more melancholic ‘Twilight’, resplendent again with intense guitar work through out. As for epic – then look no further than the definitive ‘Crows On A Wire’ – just make sure you have oxygen to calm you down afterwards! It’s all here throughout these unbelievably catchy songs. This album has so much heart man. How many other mainstream bands do you know out there doing this – scant few I would say. Alter Bridge might be the last heroes of their kind indeed.