REVIEW: TREMONTI – “Marching In Time”
We live in a world where nothing seems real after Joe Exotic and The Tiger King. A world in which a pandemic can demand so much of us, and yet somehow Black Friday continues to offer the customary sight of someone getting kicked in the face over a marginally discounted toaster. A mindless, liminal state which has many artists simply commenting on events that subsume our social media feeds. On his upcoming fifth solo album, ‘Marching in Time’, Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge, formerly of Creed), instead makes a conscious effort to guide the listener on twelve individual journeys through the world that emerged around us over the last year, reflecting on his own personal experiences of the last eighteen months.
Performances throughout ‘Marching in Time’ are exceptional. The line-up of Tremonti on vocals/guitars, Eric Friedman on guitars, Tanner Keegan on bass, and Ryan Bennett on drums proves explosive at every turn, particularly the album’s lead single, “If Not for You”. An emotive milestone that conveys a moody blend of dark overtones from a candid narrator that leaves nothing unsaid as they give thanks to their lifeline.
If the pensive “Under the Sun” offers perfect moments of melancholy to get lost in, counterpoints like “Let That Be Us” introduce some charging rock/metal to get you out of your seat. Tremonti’s unfaltering, frenetic picking working so hard the main riff sounds like bullets; each song including a chorus bigger than the last. A trait that extends to the booming “Thrown Further” and the melodious anthem buried within the riff-heavy, “Not Afraid to Lose.” A true standout moment on ‘Marching in Time,’ that captures Tremonti’s talent for songwriting at its best.
The record’s big finish, coming in at just over seven minutes and thirty seconds, depicts “so many lives marching in time.” On one level it can be interpreted as suggesting a series of generalized aspirations that overstay their welcome. Yet there is something of the Desiderata here, as a guiding poem to a child from a man who knows that he may not always be there to teach, comfort, and protect. In which the mask slips as he shifts between the shadows of the personal and the public. In the absence of such clarity, the song can get lost in the thick fog of an everyman, no man’s land. Yet there’s enough heart and sincerity to elevate the piece above the generalized.
On ‘Marching in Time’, Tremonti mixes the private with the public. While there are some moments where the distinction between the experiential and the commentating blurs and risks generalizations, thankfully the record never becomes monochromatic. Due in no small measure to Tremonti delivering some of his most musically exciting compositions on record. When married to lyrics that truly personalize the experiences, offering insight to accompany the commentary, ‘Marching in Time’ can ignite with life in a big way.