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Ab III - Alter Bridge
Member Name: missrarr
Ab III - Alter Bridge
Date: 16/07/12, updated on 17/07/12 (52 review reads)
Advantages: Epic, complex, great vocals, great lyrics, emotive - all it should be
Disadvantages: None for me
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.
Summary: A fabulous album