Alter Bridge – Fortress (2013)

Posted: October 2, 2013 in Music

alter-bridge-fortress-2013If you are a fan of hard rock, but haven’t quite graduated to heavy metal or progressive rock, the pickings of great albums over the last few years has been pretty slim. The problem being that their just aren’t enough great bands out there carrying the scene forward. Sure, you get a good song here and there from a band you’ve never heard of, but finding great ALBUMS is a whole different challenge. Outside of Foo Fighters and Avenged Sevenfold, and maybe Nickelback (whom I completely despise), there really isn’t too many bands willing to step up their game and take charge of the genre. But don’t tell that to Alter Bridge

Since their almost accidental inception brought on by the end of Christian rock gods Creed, Alter Bridge has – almost quietly – been perfecting a sound and style that, quite frankly, has become the talk of the modern hard rock world.  You can blame it on the meticulous skill and performance, or the undeniably gripping voice of singer Miles Kennedy – but whatever the reason, Alter Bridge has all of a sudden found themselves firmly seated in the throne of the kingdom of rock and roll.

After three critically acclaimed (and amazing) albums. the band returns with “Fortress”, and once again the bar has been raised. It’s not so much that Alter Bridge has truly outdone themselves this time around. but it is a grand testimony to them not resting on their laurels and continuing to improve their sound through dedication and the pursuit of perfection.

One wouldn’t be blamed for assuming they had bought the wrong album while listening to the first 30 seconds of opener ‘Cry of Achilles,’ which features a smooth, unaccompanied classical guitar progression. However, after just half a minute in, the guitars and drums kick in when the intentions become crystal clear. Yes, Alter Bridge are back with another dose of the hard rock that they do better than most of their peers in the industry. Put simply, “Fortress” is 12 tracks of searing hard rock at its finest.

The guitar work on “Fortress”  is, as on all the band’s releases, impeccable. Both Kennedy and Mark Tremonti manage to constantly blow you away with some next level phrases and layering across both guitar parts, as well as some virtuosic, face-melting solos that will leave you well and truly stunned. However, it wouldn’t be fair to review this album without mentioning some of the riffs that Alter Bridge have to offer (‘Addicted To Pain,’ ‘The Uninvited,’ and ‘Farther Than The Sun’ to name a few), which just breathe life into the songs on the album.

Alter Bridge press shot 2010Shot on July 17, 2010July 17, 2010.© Ashley Maile

It’s all too common to pass off the bassist in rock music as an almost unimportant member of the band, but it’s people like Brian Marshall that prove the stereotype wrong . At times simply giving backing to the superb drumming from Scott Phillips and the delivery from the guitars, and at others laying down a completely new element to the album (the bridge of ‘Cry of Achilles,’ as well as the intro to ‘Lover’), Marshall well and truly exceeds expectations placed upon him, and is far more than the normal three-note skill set that most rock bands settle for .

There’s a bit of what you would expect in the various soundscapes of the tracks, with the heavy, loud and brutal on one end of things (the aforementioned ‘Cry of Achilles’  and ‘Addicted To Pain’) and some of the more laid back sounds we’ve heard the band hit on previous releases (‘All Ends Well,’ ‘Waters Rising’), which often ends up with a dash of the former. There is however, the intro to ‘Calm The Fire,’ which comes fairly left of field, with an intro that sounds like it has been heavily influenced by bands like Muse (which isn’t a bad thing), that adds an interesting element to the track and to the album when viewed as a whole.

And as a whole, “Fortress” is an outstanding release, if not the rock album of the year. But really, who’s surprised? Alter Bridge consistently bring the goods, and this release is no different to that. It’s no shock why these musicians are some of the most heralded and admired in the music world, and why their seat at the top of the heap is only getting more comfortable.

9.5/10

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