REVIEW: ALTER BRIDGE – “The Last Hero”
With still a month to go, fan excitement is already beginning to peak as Alter Bridge gear up for a big return. Their new album, ‘The Last Hero,’ born of their endless striving to top their previous work, lurks just around the corner, with a world tour to go hand in hand with it for adoring fans. The band’s first release since their 2013 ‘Fortress,’ ‘The Last Hero’ will be their fifth studio album, set for release October 7th via Caroline Records in the U.S and Canada and Napalm Records throughout the rest of the world. And if the whispers are to believed, it just might be a doozy!
“We’re certainly not pushing any sort of agenda or political views by any means,” says vocalist Myles Ke
Kicking off the record, “Show Me A Leader” is evidence of exactly that. Not only the opening track, it also serves as the lead single for ‘The Last Hero’ and justifiably so. Played on seven string guitars with some alternative tunings, a big, larger than life A.B sound takes hold. The band aim big lyrically too, creating a strong sense of both music and lyrics coming together. If, for some,”Show Me A Leader” suffers unfavorable comparisons with similar songs such as Stone Sour’s “Come What(ever) May,” where Corey Taylor’s delivery feels like an all-out onslaught, that may have to do with the fact that Kennedy is taking a different route and the subtle shift in energy lets the song excel on its own merit.
“The Writing on the Wall”, written about those who deny global warming, also deserves to place high on pole position for standout tracks. Similarly, the feel good, singalong powerhouse “My Champion” which owns the line “you gotta keep fighting and get back up again,” a lyric that embodies much of the legitimacy and spirit that courses throughout ‘The Last Hero.’ Musically, Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti continue to set the bar when it comes to skills on guitar. The self-proclaimed “guitar nerds” playing is, unsurprisingly, incredible throughout the entirety of the record, further cementing their reputation as a byword of great guitar playing. “Yeah, that’s all well and good,” you might say, “but are there any guitar playing standouts?” Try “Poison In Your Veins,” for it will infect you in the best way possible.
From here on, the road weaves. “Losing Patience” blends the best of the bands new material with subtle hints of ingredients from ‘One Day Remains,’ the band’s debut album. This, just ahead of a track that is something else entirely. “You Will Be Remembered” doesn’t place as pole position for best track, it surpasses the pole completely. A chiming intro riff, verses that swoon and a chorus that unleashes such vocals, you feel yourself and everything in the room stop, as if it all purposely ceased, afraid to miss even a moment. With so much going on, listeners will find it’s easier to just sit back and surrender to it. Though fear not fellow guitar nerds, the interlocking riffs backed by the relentlessly brutal rhythm section that is bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips, soon return. “Crows On A Wire” will satisfy all these needs, as does the album closer “The Last Hero”, which will satisfy everyone’s needs, with a few surprises thrown in between.
A technically complex band, Alter Bridge know how to balance their dynamics. But there was always a question hanging over them when it came to the group dynamics. What started as a band cited as being a supergroup, and technically still is, with ‘The Last Hero’ Alter Bridge seem to have found a synergy and an identity uniquely, and cohesively, their own. If each record thus far was consciously made to be an evolutionary step, ‘The Last Hero’ succeeds in respecting their past, owning their present and fighting loud and large into the future.