Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Alter Bridge - The Last Hero (2016)

It is hard to imagine that Alter Bridge was risen from the ashes of Creed, bursting out as a colorful phoenix that took classic American hard rock to a whole new level. The band has done some great work over the years, releasing 4 albums that all had something to offer. And for every release, the band has turned up the heaviness factor a little bit, and it reached its climax with the 2013 release "Fortress", one of the best hard rock albums in several years.

"The Last Hero" is not that much heavier from its predecessor, but the quality of the craft is still high as hell. The band takes the momentum that they created from "Fortress", and rolled with it, creating a very suitable follow up. Sure, all of the Alter Bridge albums have a similar feel to them, but it really feels like the band stepped up their game significantly after "AB III", marking a new era for the band.

There are tons of material here that is easy to appreciate, mostly for the same reasons, the guitars and vocals. Myles Kennedy is one of the most recognizable voices out there and he delivers them with pin point accuracy, while Mark Tremonti adds a lot of personality to the songs with his nicely executed riffs and solos. Those two certainly makes most of the band, but the other guys (bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips) pull their weight as well with honor and pride, completing the puzzle.

The 1 hour long album does have one clear highlight, and sadly, it is at the very beginning. While it is a shame that the band tops the album with its best song, there is no doubt that "Show Me A Leader" starts off the album in the best way possible. It is a 5 minute long song that contains a really cool opening (where Tremonti just goes full Sonic), a intriguing melody, a powerful chorus, and a classic Iron Maiden trick, some "whoa-oh whoa-oh-oh-oh"'s to make the listener sing on impulse. It is a heavy hitter that sits firmly in place after the first listen, and it is topped off with a fast paced killer of a solo. Blown away from the gates.

While "The Last Hero" never reaches the same highs again, it still shows a lot of quality and versatility with its song library. Some slower and mellow tunes in "You Will Be Remembered" and "Cradle To The Grave", some aggressive in "Island of Fools" and the magnificent "The Other Side", and some catchy sons of bitches like "Crows On A Wire", "The Writing On The Wall" and "Losing Patience", making "The Last Hero" a diverse record that rarely gets boring, despite its lengthy length. So yeah, this album has a lot of cool and interesting songs to offer, and I could almost mention every song on this album, because it is consistent as hell.

But then we have the cliches, those songs that are more American than apple pie. As a Swede, these songs do not sit right for me (for obvious reasons), but I do get why the band do them. This is just a cultural preference, but my firm opinion is that "My Champion", "You Will Be Remembered", and the on going theme about heroes is not only weak, but kind of cheesy. So do not take these criticisms seriously, I am just here for the stuff that makes Alter Bridge stand out from every other American hard rock bands.

While it may not be as rock solid as "Fortress", "The Last Hero" will still most likely be the best hard rock album that you will hear in 2016. It got more or less everything that you want from a Alter Bridge album. It is heavy, versatile, and really professional. It is obvious that Alter Bridge is in a good place right now, rolling hard with their momentum in just the right way, and it looks like they will not stop any time soon. It may not be a straight on bull's eye, but "The Last Hero" is still on target.

Songs worthy of recognition: Show Me A Leader, The Writing On The Wall, The Other Side, Island of Fools

Rating: 8,5/10 Crows on a wire

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