REVIEW: ALTER BRIDGE – “Walk The Sky”
For over fifteen years, Alter Bridge have blurred the lines between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, creating a unique space all of their own. If the band’s last studio album, 2016’s ‘The Last Hero’, tipped closer to Hard Rock, their refreshing new opus ‘Walk The Sky’ walks a finer tightrope, balanced precariously between a rock and the bands heavier side. If some would have delighted in another fourteen song album of more quintessential Alter Bridge, others yearned for a stirring of the pot. Well, with ‘Walk The Sky’, their sixth studio effort, the pot does indeed get stirred, producing some thrilling results.
Although you wouldn’t have guessed it based on the record’s leading singles. “Wouldn’t You Rather”, with its spitfire delivery and heavy instrumentation, so dense it’s almost impenetrable, made for a curious first offering by suggesting an entirely heavier direction. Indeed, the semi symphonic metal “Pay No Mind,” and the crushing “Take The Crown,” would also suggest Alter Bridge have simply swung to the other side of the pendulum, gearing up to deliver a heavier ‘The Last Hero.’ That is until in the brilliant, epic, and stunning anthem that is “Godspeed”.
To critique “Godspeed” with anything other than unconditional commendation would be inexcusable. From its initial, imminently addictive opening piano/synth hook, to its explosive main riff and emotive verses, by the time Myles Kennedy delivers the ascending pre-chorus before launching you into a chorus too good not to adore, “Godspeed” has comfortably established itself as the albums best track. In fact, it holds its own among the bands best across their entire catalog. It is simply that good.
In a similar vein, “Tear Us Apart,” destined to be new AB hit, keeps the lighter, more jovial momentum flowing with an explosive demonstration of modern classic rock. With an erupting rhythm section provided by Scott Philips and Brian Marshall, coupled with soaring vocal highs executed by Kennedy, “Tear Us Apart” molds together wonderfully. And, lest we forget, an equally storming “Forever Falling” sees Mark Tremonti’s return to vocals on this semi-metallic delight, sure to be an early addition to upcoming live shows.
The rhythmic dueling between guitarists Tremonti and Kennedy has always seen guitar nerds giggle with delight. Tracks like “Native Son” prove to be no exception. The chemistry, camaraderie, and captivating playing between these two champions are epitomized on ‘Walk The Sky,’ especially among the heavier numbers, including but the slugging chugger “Indoctrination” as well as the soon to be beloved “Clear Horizon”, which creeps up, snake-like, before savagely cutting through the monitors.
If suspicions were beginning to brew that Alter Bridge had become a formulaic outfit, these speculations meet their end with this synth-based, modern rock classic that explores some new and exciting heavier territories for the band. Ambitious, adventurous and unmistakably alive, ‘Walk The Sky’ might well redefine what quintessential Alter Bridge sounds like.