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I have, for some time, suffered from a common medical problem called "Commuter's Meh".
Basically what this horrible, wasting disease does to you is this: you wake up every working morning and you get up, get showered, get dressed, get fed, get tea'd and get your backside (and the rest of you, ideally) to a train station. You then, still yet to have formed anything resembling an actual cognitive thought, get on the first train that arrives at the platform you always get on. You then find a seat (if you're lucky) and then, fleetingly, you wonder if by some complete and utter moment of maniacal lunacy the station operators have changed the platform and instead of the being aboard the 8.06 to London you are in fact about to be hurtled at something supposedly vaguely resembling fair speed towards Sheffield instead, which would greatly stuff up your day. You then instantly dismiss this, get your iPod out of the increasingly MASSIVE bag you have to carry with you to account for your entire working day as well as all possible weather scenarios, check your BlackBerry four times, stick a playlist on that you made ten months ago and have listened to approximately 2.376 million times since, then tell yourself you're going to sleep but spend the next hour picking up aforementioned BlackBerry every three minutes in case you missed something DESPERATELY important, or sneakily getting out your copy of 50 Shades Of Grey and wondering if the fat, balding, stinking-at-eight-am suit sat next to you is reading over your shoulder or looking down your top.
It's probably both, by the way.
Anyway. One thing you don't do once this process has commenced or until its completion is really pay attention to what you're listening to. Your poor Pod. It's served you well, day in, day out. But the truth is, even though you're a massive fan of music, it's just a way of blocking out the sheer mundane nonsense of day to day life when you have this condition. You could be listening to the Village People and someone could tell you, in a Derren Brown-esque scenario, that it was in fact Brahms and you'd have no bloody way of knowing he was lying, because you've got too much on your mind, you're thinking about a meeting you don't want to go to and the meeting you'll have about that meeting and...you get it. You also start to hate EVERYONE. Commuting erodes both your love of music and your community spirit, because the first becomes your first line of defence against the multitudes of morons you will encounter and thus becomes functional, therefore killing your love for it.
So my iPod has become stale. And I get sick of condescending middle aged men in suits assuming that, because I am a (vaguely) young female in mascara and jeans (I do wear other stuff, I promise) I cannot possibly be a professional commuter therefore I am to be glared at, pushed out of the way and generally looked down on. So now and then, when some fat cat banker has finished barking "BARCLAYS!!!" down his iPhone before picking up his BlackBerry to call his wife and tell her how annoying "BARCLAYS!" is to work for, I like to stick on my iPod, refresh the playlists and music listings, and stick on something that completely irritates them. Yes, the person you assume is a student is actually a 27-year-old professional in a creative industry, and because you nick the armrest, kick me when shuffling your feet and don't apologise, and generally think I shouldn't be allowed to exist, here's some very loud rock music turned up full blast from my iPhone headphones. And to really hack you off, I'm going to pretend to be asleep while it's on, ruining your £4 train-bought coffee that I hope sloshes over both your phones.
I then smile sweetly when we arrive at St Pancras, and go about my day. Lately I've been using Alter Bridge to do this. It's the only known cure for "Commuter's Meh", and I wholeheartedly suggest you try it. Just not on me, because I'll raise the stakes and stick on Steps, except I'll put the headphones in YOUR ears, just for the fun of it.
Here's an album review!
Alter Bridge is still a little-known slow grower over here. I was introduced to them by a friend who showed her true colours after I offered to put her up for a bit and she afterwards threw away our friendship over a pair of shoes. Luckily, I gained something from her via the people who in turn influenced her, so her musical pals got us both interested in the music of Alter Bridge.
Formed by three members of the band Creed along with Myles Kennedy, who is involved with a current Slash solo project, Alter Bridge formed in 2004 and have become a band that is not widely known but who enjoy critical acclaim and a massive loyal fanbase. Thus, they tour and sell out major stadiums here even though most people in the UK have never heard of them - even as a fan, I only realised they were playing Wembley when it was sold out beyond even ticket tout assistance and my hoping to go was futile. Not that I support ticket touting scumbags, of course, but sometimes needs must because life is only that long and could be ended by a badly-timed bus tomorrow.
ABIII is their third album - see what they did there? My previous knowledge of them is that they do awesome rock numbers, Kennedy has an astonishing and instantly distinctive voice, they're very good at what they do and without fail, their previous two albums had a song on each that was epic and so beautifully emotional it could rip your heart in two. So here's my thoughts on ABIII.
SLIP TO THE VOID
This 14-track album starts with tense synths and Kennedy's voice takes over gently - a rough, emotive voice that can do "gentle" but in it's own inimitable style. The intro lasts quite a while, an extra verse during which the structure of the song builds behind it. Then...drums and guitars kick off and former fans know Alter Bridge are back and existing fans know they can still do what they do best. Kennedy's strength of his voice is that it holds up against the complexity and intensity of the musicians that back him and adds a degree to all tracks that makes them epic. This is a great intro to the album and as with all Alter Bridge tracks there is a clear song structure, there is a form of repetition in the lyrics that works as something passing for a chorus in even the most obscure, guitars-having-fun heavy tracks and this is a racy, full-on track that I love to drive to - and that great voice is used to punctuate it and build it up. Only one song on this album is under 4 minutes long, so I can only imagine how astonishing they must be live.
The capacity to convey emotion, despite having such a distinctive tone, that this man's voice has, is amazing, and as ever perfectly complemented by the backing of his band.
Heavy intro here and soon after we're in with the vocals. This song is most notable for it's chorus, but the verse track is angry and full-bodied with some great riffs leading into the vocal-heavy chorus. The backing complements the vocals perfectly, they're almost in danger of getting lost in this one even though it's studio produced - and with a voice this strong that shows how much depth there is to this track in terms of instrumental sound. A song about being disconnected, alone, isolated. And, it would seem, really pretty angry about it! Then in the middle, that Alter Bridge, very polished epic high point of the song, a verse delivered in a slightly different, intense form. Fabulous. In short, the first few songs on this album grab you and go, and this is a great part of that.
GHOST OF DAYS GONE BY
A softer effort - comparatively speaking. A gentler intro, the soulful notes of Kennedy's voice utilised well, a song of days of the past and missing them. The backing music is perfect, true to the band's sound, reflective of the topic, soft when required yet epic and huge when underpinning the lyrics so crucial in the chorus. Beautiful, reflective yet not morose, a great summer track, great to drive to. There is a darker section to the song, but overall it is beautiful and well balanced. The sudden dive into said darkness is balanced by the astonishing epic guitar-driven, vocal-free exit from it, a truly gorgeous bit of music that conveys what the lyrics used in other bits of the track were saying, and then that builds to the end.
ALL HOPE IS GONE
I can't go into epic depth about all 14 tracks or we'll be here all night and neither of us want that, right? This is a dark intro building into Kennedyy's voice competing with a strong guitar. Then the chorus - "I've been here too long, I'm tired and longing for more, how long must I run until I find what I'm looking for?". It's a gorgeous chorus delivered strongly by Kennedy, he manages again to pack emotion into his vocal delivery whilst being convincing. He truly puts the meaning of his lyrics into what he sings. For me not the strongest track, but I still enjoy it so much.
Not a standout track for me but still so good! When this builds from the intro it's emphatically dark, all-embracing and the following vocals are intense, about saving someone from drowning, stopping them from burning, yet being let down by them. This builds into an epic chorus. A dark, epic track.
MAKE IT RIGHT
A gorgeous intro, with mellifluous guitars and a gentler vocal kick off. All about asking how many times you've sacrificed or suffered only to find no response or balance from it. Then the heavier chorus - "into the fire you fall, only you can make it right". A strong, gorgeously constructed song.
Every Alter Bridge album has a song that could break your heart into tiny pieces, and will reduce anyone to tears. I was already in love with In Loving Memory from a previous album but learning it was written about a band member's deceased mother saw me sobbing in sympathy to the writer when I next heard it. This is ABIII's offering. It's gorgeous. An epic tale of love and loss, told reflectively, beautifully and emotively. Kennedy's true vocal strength is that he can sing so aggressively to match this band behind him yet still convey such depth of emotion and love. An amazing song. If they ever sang like this about a happy ending, you would have the perfect song for a first dance at a wedding. The emotive quality of the lyrics is stirring for anyone - and the incredible bands makes such a sensitive topic work with the heavy rock behind it. There is true raw emotion in the delivery of this song. A must-listen.
I KNOW IT HURTS
A swift return to the fast-moving heaviness we're used to. This is a great track. "We all fall sometimes, you're not the first, but I know it hurts". A heavy kick-off and straight in there with the emotive, well-delivered lyrics. A song about losing your way, and dealing with it. A fantastically strong chorus.
SHOW ME A SIGN
A slower intro, dark, then instantly back to epic Alter Bridge standards. This is probably one of the most grandiose tracks on the album, despite dropping back to a softer vocal delivery early on. The build up is worth it. "Show me a sign, give me meaning" leads into a multi-layered, deep ending. A great track and by their standards, a slow-burner.
I kept finding this track coming back into my head recently at work. It's well executed and far more basic in it's introduction than some earlier tracks. But when it kicks off, I find the chorus amazing. It's got passion, great guitar work, effective lyrics delivered so well. An amazing track that goes from heavy points to a softer, more desolate place in between.
A tuneful intro by the band's standards. This is far from the strongest track on this album - but it's still a great track alone. It has variation and amazing depth at times. As ever, emotive and embracing in its intensity.
A darker start than the previous track, quickly into the heavy and produced rock. The vocals are slower and gentler initially, again the balance between them and the music behind the singer a strong combination. Just not as strong as the earlier tracks for me.
LIFE MUST GO ON
Another softer effort, by sounds to start - but this one instantly turns heavier. It's epic and emotive. The combination of lyrics, vocals and guitar work here is very beautiful and evokes strong emotions with anyone who can relate.
WORDS DARKER THAN THEIR WINGS
An atmospheric intro leads to a gentler introduction to the lyrics on this one. They're almost a whisper behind the track. Huge vocals. Huge guitars. It's just a gorgeous way to end this album.
IN CONCLUSION, THEN?
This is, I have to say, the most widely appreciable Alter Bridge effort yet. There is an element of high production on it but, having not seen them live, I can't really say how that compares to their live efforts - Youtube doesn't cut it so I'm not going to try to compare that.
I can't form a criticism of this album. Yes, the songs tend to follow a certain structure - as do the albums - but as the tracks have such variety on the deliverance of their music backing I love them all regardless.
Alter Bridge may not be for everyone but their massive loyal fanbase is no surprise to me. I love this band and whilst this is their least raw album, I do enjoy it and can't stop listening to it lately, as I never could turn it off when I first got it. A triumph from a truly distinctive band.
Alter Bridge, led by quality frontman Myles Kennedy, return with an album equally as good, if not better, than their previous two.
The guitar work is epic beyond belief. Marc Tremonti does not put a foot wrong. I would normally list songs which I would recommend you listen to. However, I cannot single out any song on this album that is better. Isolation is slightly heavier, with Wonderful Life taking the opposite route as a heartfelt slower song. I Know It Hurts is a message we can all relate to at one point or another, as is Fallout.
Myles Kennedy goes from strength to strength. It takes a special man to be invited to front Led Zeppelin on a tour. He is out there to rival the best and, with the right recognition, will be acknowledged as a legend of our time.
I'd recommend this album to any music fan, especially fans of heavier rock or even metal.
The year 2004 brought four American musicians together to form Alter Bridge, Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips all previously whom played in the band Creed, joined forces with front man Myles Kennedy, formerly of the Mayfield Four to create a heavy hitting blend of progressive metal / hard rock sounds to our ears. AB III is Alter Bridge's third studio album, released October 11, 2010. AB III is a concept album that features a mans struggle to cope with life and what's thrown at him, AB III explores the mind set off an individual, that's desperately searching for a way out from his dark, empty days of suffering, longing and the seeds of doubt that circle around his desperation. The albums takes a number of twists through this mans eyes, some fairly uplifting, giving hope, others about death and the loss of his wife, so it's a mixed bag of emotions inside, many of which they pull of well. Lead single 'Isolation' has already been released and in terms of performance ABIII is already Alter Bridge's most successful album, a fete considering its only been in the charts a few weeks. Alter Bridge are....
*Myles Kennedy - Lead Vocals, Rhythm and Lead Guitar
*Mark Tremonti - Lead and Rhythm Guitar, backing vocals.
*Brian Marshall - Bass Guitar
*Scott Phillips - Drums, percussion
ABIII - Tracks
1.Slip to the Void (4.55) - Slow brooding intro, masked in edgy synths, and a trickling delicate riff, Kennedy's vocals are slow, edgy and slightly echoed. The sound slowly escalates into the chorus, which bursts into rapture, the dirty dark booming main riff, meets Kennedy's throaty shouting vocals. It's a classic metal-rock sound, full of whirling beastly riffs and plenty of chaos, it could easily be Megadeth or Iron Maiden playing in their prime. A fair opener, full of exploration and atmosphere, to a heavy, dark sound. 5/10
2. Isolation (4.15) - Lead single Isolation takes a different tact, its more feverish and impulsive to the deadly dark opener, it's if you can call it, more radio friendly too, with its frantic, catchy approach. It's fairly joyous, entertained with a very memorable chorus that oozes class, Tremonti and Kennedy share the frenetic vocals, built around a whirlwind of distortion heavy riffs and power chords. Isolation was what actually attracted me to Alter Bridge, never heard of them before, so this got me excited to hear more. 8/10
3. Ghosts of Days Gone by (4.28) - Track three sees us become all melancholy, the tones from Kennedy are reflective and a little sombre, ..the general tone is clearer and subtle, the pace slow, and the riffs not so overbearing. The chorus changes tempo slightly but the general moving theme is still imbedded. Ghosts, has a rather muted sound, blessed with a pleasant rhythm. I like the change in style, sounds more like Pearl Jam, than Megadeath, but it lacks something to make it stand out, still not bad. 5.5/10
4. All Hope is Gone (4.51) - Tremonti himself agrees this has a medieval theme, which I cannot see personally, although I cant find any solution for this, except again it's driven in another direction, and one more palatable to my ears. An array of gentle, calm distorted riffs spiral around the beautiful soulful Kennedy's tones, in fact some of the best vocals on the album, you learn to appreciate him a little more. The chorus picks up a little, but follows the same calming pattern, the cascading overlapping riffs are as mesmerizing as usual, but portrayed generously to appreciate the clarity. Tremonti's rhythm guitar solo towards the end steals the limelight, with some blistering sounds, stylish, which really sets the trend for this moving, thought provoked number, good work 8/10
5 Still Remains (4.47) - More of a metal presence, however its embraced with a subtly that makes it clear and palatable enough, its not overbearing, generously light, which seems a recurring theme on this album. It's a fairly lifting, happy-ish track, as thought they have come through the end in style. Again, led heavily by the bruising riffs, however, its the middle eight that steals the show, with some seriously enigmatic guitar work, something you would expect from a decent metal band. I think to appreciate this, the louder the better, and it certainly grows on you, decent effort. 6.5/10
6 Make it Right (4.18) - Quite a melodic, soaring opening! Gentle trickling riffs accompany Tremonti's soulful tones. Make it right is more of a grunge based track, that uses a nice blend of tones, the verses light and breathy, before building into more vitriol as the chorus kicks in. Again the middle eight, takes centre stage, mesmerizing finger picking from Tremonti once again explores our thoughts, before a wave of riffs surge to accompany, to finish the track off with vigour, another half decent effort. 6/10
7 Wonderful Life (5.22) - Within seconds I know I'm going to love this track, a rock ballad, if you like, and one of my favourites of the album, the sort of song you play more than once before listening to the whole album. It's moving, poignant and mournful as Tremonti displays soul in his reflection over someone lost to the other side. Ever so pretty and melancholic, displaying the finer tones once more, and giving Alter Bridge more vulnerability and diversity. The riffs are not lost though, just held back and consistent as to not upset the chemistry that carries this forward. 8.5/10
8 I Know it Hurts (3.57) - The opening to this metal laced track is a little misleading, the beastly riff soon loses face, but regains strength again later on, it's powerful, dark, and a little over bearing to be fair, that's not saying passages of light aren't found here, the diversity and mixed arrangement the song keeps gives it credit, but the overriding riff is just to heavy, and drowns out the rest of the mood the track tries to display. Having said all that Megadeath, Queensryche, Slayer, and all those type of fans would love this, but not one I cherish. 4/10
9 Show Me a Sign (5.58) - Another cracking track, fairly complex and mixed, the main riff is both moody and melancholic giving a real eerie feeling to the song, sounds a little like 'Good Fight' by Creed, supported by layered vocals which I really like giving it added atmosphere, it's melodic, soaring, poignant, meaningful and drenched in dramatics, the dynamics work wonderfully. To appreciate the musicianship here I think its one you need to listen over and over to fully explore what they are trying to produce, its one of those type of tracks that you can just drift into without knowing it, again the main riff is what pulls this through from beginning to end, wonderful. 8.5/10
10 Fallout (4.24) - I Love the subtle gentle beginnings, shame they didn't utilise this a little more in this journey of struggle. Fallout follows the same spec to most of the songs on the album, gentle verses that build for the chorus, followed by some thrash metal, before a scintillating middle eight solo, this is no different. The chord progression I like, and something you get used to on this album. Tremonti ends out the song with some pulsating, shimmering riffs that spiral around, great effort. 7/10
11 Breathe Again (4.24) - It's the first time you get to appreciate Brian's bass line, as it chugs along to a rather stripped back opening bridge, before the overlapping gentle riffs kick in for the chorus line, it's a mid-tempo effort, nothing too dark, quite feverish, fast in parts, utilising the same structure as most of their tracks posses. A sense of euphoria, or some significance is found listening to Kennedy's poetic voice here, quiet pretty, and whereas it doesn't stand out like some of the other tracks, it's fits in nicely, good effort. 7/10
12 Coeur d' Alene (4.33) - Soaked in dramatics, Tremonti's almost elusive guitar drifts in and out, with some dirty, kicking, thuggish riffs. Kennedy's almost yearning vocals are warm, giving him a sense of longing, a desire to search, or in search of something. Coeur d' Alene holds the best melody of the album, which again is why its one of my favourites, its not too boisterous, but still holds plenty of atmosphere and charisma. You feel by the end of the track a sense of breathing again, a coming out of the other side, and now we are searching for home, as thought the story is towards its climax. 7.5/10
13 Life Must Go On (4.34) - As the theme continues, the search goes on, not really sure for what, but it seems lost and longing, seems a little like been pushed away, and your fighting against the tide. Having said that the tracks have aspects of glory and euphoria attached, but also moments of sadness and pondering. It's fairly rock friendly, and probably would appeal as a future single, with its catchy sing-a-long chorus. It features the same dynamics as the last few tracks, which kind of blends the album together well towards the end. The chord progression is enlightening, the melody endearing, passionate vocals backed by a good rhythm, another fine effort. 7.5/10
14 Words Darker Than Their Wings (5.21) - The finale has a more downbeat tone, which is fitting to the concept of the album, the end of the fight is upon us, so don't lose hope. Tremonti and Kennedy share the vocals once more, almost singing to one another, than in tandem. Arpeggio styled verses are delicate and meandering, before lifting into the chorus where the dramatically whirling riffs take sail. It's a fitting finale, that builds ever so slightly, the twinned vocals, appeal more towards the end, before a blistering falsetto from Kennedy ends out the track and album. 7/10
After listening to Alter Bridge's first two albums, before reviewing this, I'd say this is their first use of a concept album, and it's a little darker and gloomy than in the past. Also the sound is much more controlled, and progressive. It adheres consistently on the same page throughout, the dynamics never really shift from quiet verses, that surge towards an explosive chorus, before repeating the same pattern, then a whirlwind of passionate metal will follow, before a middle eight that sometimes inspire. Indeed this would be my own real criticism, that the structure never changes, and it does feel a little repetitive, even thought the sounds per track and fairly diverse, especially at the top of the record.
The mixture of sound seems more generous than before, you have tracks like Still Remains that focuses on heavy metal, you've tracks that border bluesy numbers and many a ballad including Wonderful life one of my favourites. The aggression is apparent everywhere, but largely its controlled and hidden, Tremonti's riffs are mesmerizing, dirty, dazzling and thuggish at times, but also very stylish and passionate, and not overruling the rest of the sound. Kennedy's vocals are inspirational too, he seems to possess an array of talent, with a range that covers many a bases. The pair work fashionable well together, a relationship that's filled with flair and creates a seriously good atmosphere.
ABIII ultimately is a fantastic array on guitar interplay, indeed the main premise is swollen around Tremonti's finger picking, however the singing works well in conjunction, and one wouldn't work without the other. I feel the bass is overlooked at times, and only towards the end of the album becomes more coherent, but still seems a welcome boost from previous albums. If you're a fan of heavy metal, Alter Bridge, Queensryche, Megadeath or anything similar then this is for you, but don't be warned off by the term heavy metal, rock fans would still appreciate some of the finer, softer tones this produces. For anyone that doesn't appreciate such genres then I'd give this as wide a berth as possible, its not for you.
I think Alter Bridge will continue to grow, and with steady appreciation from the mainstream market could become fairly successful in years to come. To be honest I was surprised how much I enjoyed ABIII I thought the sound would be to hard for me, I was expecting to walk away enjoying a couple of tracks, but I thought the musicianship was excellent, lyrically tight, guitar work as good as anyone else in today's market, and diverse enough to be entertained to the end, therefore depending on your musical taste then this is definitely recommended.
Amazon price £8.93
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Slip To The Void
3 Ghost Of Days Gone By
4 All Hope Is Gone
5 Still Remains
6 Make It Right
7 Wonderful Life
8 I Know It Hurts
9 Show Me A Sign
11 Breathe Again
12 Coeur D'Alene
13 Life Must Go On
14 Words Darker Than Their Wings