Alter Bridge

STEINMETAL (9/10) I will begin with my own proclamation, which includes my own speculations, about […]
By Lior "Steinmetal" Stein / Rebecca Miller
September 27, 2013
Alter Bridge - Fortress album cover


I will begin with my own proclamation, which includes my own speculations, about the upcoming fortification of the Hard N' Heavy stuff that is right before you. We are all humans; every one of us has its own secrets, deepest fears, wishes, guilt and regret over various things that happened through one's lifetime. These life's elements are private, fortified within an own personal fortress. But what happens when this fortress crumbles down, when a person is exposed, as if naked out of its mother's womb? Bursts of an uncanny anger, loads of negativity might erupt; a series of emotions will take hold leading to an unknown result. Whether I was accurate with my assessment or totally misguided, the US foursome of ALTER BRIDGE had me going through a journey with various of passionate storms and surges of energy under a tough and tight American platter. In addition, this was my actual first time listening and reviewing a full length of the band, as I never got myself to experience their previous venturing. Rediscovering ALTER BRIDGE turned out to be one of the peak points in the last period of time, and their new album "Fortress", via Roadrunner Records seemed to be the right musical pillar of light to guide me through.

With Mark Tremonti being one of the key figures behind the music, I have always had that itchy feeling that ALTER BRIDGE would end up being another aspect of the old CREED, not that the latter was in any way bad actually I have been a fan through their heydays while discovering modern American Metal, however, I discovered a developed musical entity. This solid unit offers plenty of stimulants, craving on their skins several Metal and Rock doctrines, crossing the 90s with attributes of the first lines of Groove and Stoner Metal, modernized Hard Rock, Nu Metal but also surfing with the new reign of 00s Heavy Metal depicting a few elements of the far past, breathing the American spirit hard in your ears. What interested me even more was that ALTER BRIDGE didn't rely on the usual song formulas and stepped out of the box to implement more riffs, passionate thrills and artistic segments to relish one's deprivation for something out of the ordinary. C parts were extended, additional layers of creativeness and just filling in holes. On the other hand, ALTER BRIDGE didn't let go of the larger than life choruses, and I am glad that they didn't as this aspect appeared as one of the foremost powerhouses. "Fortress" consists of a few epic tracks that should be listed in music's history as examples of near perfect composition and formation of long length tunes that would keep the listener soothingly streaming through them as if they were the known shorter hits. Other than Tremonti, which really outdone himself with his diverse riffing and lead soloing and licks, a huge credit has to drop on the shoulders of Myles Kennedy, for demonstrating the means of an impeccable voice range and depth and that passion isn't something easy to manifest, and of course the iron bound rhythm section of the CREED mongers, Brian Marshall and the skinman, Scott Phillips, which provided the pounding effect of the group.

Honestly, even as an old school Metal / Hard Rock fan, I had a feeling that ALTER BRIDGE were the ones bounded to change my thought pattern regarding the modernization of the genre. Well, they weren't the only ones, but they sure made their impact. Raining the emotive affair of "Lover", a 90s Power ballad with sheer bliss. A full spread charge with a full Metal assault harboring great riffing, tiding up the knot between the heaviness of Metal and the classiness of Rock, shedding a power choir chorus and a load some of groove with "Peace Is Broken", "Calm The Fire" and "Cry Me A River", the latter being an impressive Rockier expression, clinging on late 90s determination. Also there is that quick reminder that the CREED legacy never died with "All Ends Well". With deep respects to Scott Stapp, but Kennedy has nearly everything in his disposal for the creation of a drama, a tearing spectacle of sensitive demonstration. The title track "Fortress", no doubt left something leaking deep within, closed down the final seal upon this album, an epic all around Rock and Metal salute, modernly harmonic, soft and rough at the same time, a classic marker for the years to come. The fortification of emotions is over; it's time to be exposed. So without further a due, charge the stores my fellow Metalheads and get this one fast.


"Fortress" is the first studio album since 2010 for ALTER BRIDGE, although there were some very good reasons for that gap between releases. Myles Kennedy was working with Slash which included releasing an album and going on tour. Mark Tremonti released his solo album "All I Was" which was also accompanied by a tour. And Tremonti, along with Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips reunited with Scott Stapp to bring Creed back for a time. So has all this sidetracking affected ALTER BRIDGE? Hell no.

The band tends to up their game, and slightly change their style with each release they have put out, and "Fortress" doesn't buck the trend. Yes, it may sound different from their other releases, but it's still undeniably ALTER BRIDGE. Kennedy's vocals will still haunt you, and Tremonti's solos will still send shivers down your spine (with the stand out solo being during "Bleed It Dry"). I think the break may have done the guys some good, because they've come back firing on all cylinders. Even though ALTER BRIDGE may look to have accomplished it all (they have played Wembley, to be fair), they're not content to sit back and ride their success - they love what they do, so they want to keep doing it, and it shows. There's been a ton of thought but into every aspect of this album - the lyrics, they rhythms, the arrangements - you truly have to listen to it more than once in order to acknowledge and appreciate everything that's in there. One of the many things I like about this album is that once you get to the end, you can just listen to it again straight away, it's that good. Everything about it just works.

My favourite track has to be "All Ends Well" - it's a lovely inspiring song, but it still packs a punch. And talking about packing a punch - much of this album will get you really pumped up, especially opener "Cry Of Achilles". It starts off acoustically, but it soon descends into racing guitars, and the pounding drums from Phillips really drive the whole track to produce a stunning start to the album. There's not one dull song, not one misstep all the way through to the final track, the title track, a seven and a half minute epic. Nothing is done by halves on this album, there's no slouching from anyone involved. Kennedy's vocals really get shown through a lot of their range here, always soulful and impassioned. Tremonti also gets a chance to show off his vocal chords, singing lead on "Waters Rising", perhaps letting people know why they should buy his solo album. In fact, every member of the band is at the top of their game here, and it's just a brilliant and inspired release.

We could speculate on what direction the band might take next, but I think for the moment that with a world tour coming up, we should just enjoy their success because it's rightly deserved. They've gone above and beyond what anyone could have expected with this album, but the ALTER BRIDGE fortress doesn't look set to crumble any time soon.


9 / 10

Almost Perfect

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"Fortress" Track-listing:

1. Cry Of Achilles
2. Addicted To Pain
3. Bleed It Dry
4. Lover
5. The Uninvited
6. Peace Is Broken
7. Calm The Fire
8. Waters Rising
9. Farther Than The Sun
10. Cry A River
11. All Ends Well
12. Fortress

Alter Bridge Lineup:

Myles Kennedy - Vocals, Guitar
Mark Tremonti - Guitar, Vocals
Brian Marshall - Bass
Scott Phillips - Drums

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