REVIEW: TREMONTI – “A Dying Machine”
2018 sees another string added to the Mark Tremonti bow, as the guitarist and frontman pursues one of his most ambitious endeavours to date, crossing off a major bucket list item along the way. His upcoming album, ‘A Dying Machine’, holds a greater deal of sentiment to the namesake guitarist than one might assume. While on tour with his prime concern, Alter Bridge, a warm up that began like any other became a warm up unlike any other. As a result, Tremonti found himself upon what would become the title track for the album. He then began to immerse himself in a story he felt was too good not to tell. Thus, his first concept album was born and, intertwined with it, a companion novel by the same name, authored by the man himself with help from award winning author John Shirley (BioShock: Rapture, Borderlands: The Fallen). If never having considered making a concept album before this, Tremonti hits the nail on the head with his very first outing.
Drummer Garrett Whitlock commands the initial moments with a performance in “Bringer Of War” that borders on militant. You are only waiting a moment before the entire ensemble comes together, uniting in a full on assault delivered to hard rock perfection. Not unlike its direct follow up “From The Sky”, a number which fluctuates wonderfully between a chugging prefix to choruses of soaring, melodic vocal harmonies. However, the first true gem lies just around the corner, in a song simply entitled, “Trust.”
The magic of “Trust” is that it simultaneously clicks into place with ‘A Dying Machine’ as a concept record, while all the while transcending the feeling of being painted with the same brush as the rest. With its gritty bass, performed by Eric Friedman, emotive guitars and lyrical phrasing that is beyond exceptional across the board, “Trust” could feature on any great rock record with Tremonti’s name on the tin, and is a testament to his credit as a songwriter.
If “Trust” served as the first gem on the record, Tremonti then goes and does it all again with “The First And Last”.” This passionate, edgy ballad is unarguably an album standout that can, and should, be considered among the best of his career to date.
Throughout ‘A Dying Machine’, Tremonti strikes a rare balance among concept records. A sci-fi-esque themed work that risks feeling stagnant within the confines of its subject matter, yet somehow it doesn’t. Which is all the more impressive when we consider that the songwriter reworked certain songs to fit the mold of the concept record. In some cases, such as the title track “A Dying Machine”, the story told is potent and pulsating, even if in other places it doesn’t always excel. “The Day When Legions Burned”, despite its growling hooks and mosh pit ready malice, feels more like forced bias as opposed to a story offered. Fortunately, such shortcomings are few and far between and escape the dangerous possibility of becoming a downfall.
You would be hard pressed to find very much in the career of Mark Tremonti that hasn’t thrived or exceeded expectations. A great deal of this is due to hard work and dedication and, lest we forget, the art of good, honest song writing which he has delivered time and time again. ‘A Dying Machine’ is no exception. A multi dimensional offering that can be enjoyed on several different levels, ‘A Dying Machine’ is a trailblazing, triumph of exploration, up there with the best concept albums, setting the bar high for all that follow in its wake.