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Alter Bridge – Fortress (Alter Bridge Records)

I try to stay up on what it going on in the world of hard rock and metal, but every so often an album comes along that makes me feel like I have been living under a rock. Such is the case with Alter Bridges latest, Fortress. I’m not really a music snob, but when Alter Bridge formed from the former members of Creed, a band I absolutely did not like, I will admit I turned my nose up at it. If I had heard With Arms Wide Open one more time I was ready to drive my car off a very high cliff and was not willing to give this band much of a chance. When it comes to Alter Bridge I will admit that I don’t think I could have ever been more wrong in my assumptions about a band.

Starting off with Spanish style acoustic guitar before kicking it up to another level, Cry of Achilles sets the tone for the rest of the album. The songs are dynamic and heavy, without being overly in your face all the while maintaining a smooth melodic quality. Precision fitted cogs in a highly tuned machine, the music provided by Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips is truly amazing. Every instrument perfectly compliments the other flawlessly ensuring that none outshines the other, but that all shine and have extraordinary moments. The tightness in the playing shows the comfort level these guys have built with each other over the years and I now have a greater appreciation for the musical ability of these three.

Myles Kennedy’s voice seems to know no limits. I have been a long time fan of Myles’ work with Slash, but he takes it to a new level on this album. From the slow, soft whispering of Lover, to the higher octaves of Addicted To Pain, Myles’ vocals engulf you like an uncontrollable flame. Tremonti also steps up, impressively I might add, to lead vocals on Waters Rising with Myles providing harmonious backing vocals.

It is hard to pick a favorite on this album as there seems to be no throw away fluff or filler, but Lover has to be the stand out. Starting slow with mesmerizing hushed vocals set to acoustic guitars gradually leading into a grand explosion of heavy drums and slashing guitars and Myles’ screaming, pitch perfect vocals. Near the end the song again slows into the whispering acoustics before coming back even harder and louder in a crunchingly grand crescendo.

This is hard rock music done right and gets better with every listen. I am sure I am not the only one who didn’t give this band a chance, but I urge those who thought like me to give it a try. Thanks for bringing me out from under my rock.


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