Alter Bridge return with album number III simply titled Ab III. Fans of the previous two albums may find this one a bit more difficult to digest. It is a much darker album and certainly a much heavier and intense album than the previous two, a complex beast that will require a few listens but also puncutated with some bright spots. The lyrics are certainly much darker and draw questions on life and faith (something that Myles Kennedy has talked about) though its not all gloomy. The band have shown a much higher level of musicianship here, some crunchier guitars, Myles Kennedy even gets his hand dirty on a few guitar solos, almost like a missing piece of the puzzle slotting into place.
Mark Tremonti really shows his riffing chops on this album. Opening single Isolation is a good example of this. Chugging riffs that are heavy as hell. There's a definite progressive feel about this song too but not in a Dream Theater way. There's just more emphasis on riffing and this is evident with most of the songs stretching between 4 and 6 minutes long. All Hope Is Gone is another example of this riffing and dark lyrics, its riffing pervading a sense of darkness throughout the song. Still Remains opens with a slight Eastern flavour before retreating back into a steady riff-erama.
Myles Kennedy's singing on this album is powerful and he seems to have stepped up a notch and brought his A Game (and then some). Little wonder why Slash chose him as his tour singer.
Now its not to say that the album doesn't have any lighter moments as with Blackbird's big ballad Watch Over You. There are a few candidates on this album. Ghosts Of Days Gone By is one of them. Its a real anthemic piece, with Kennedy's voice resonating deep and clear. This is great soundtrack material. Wonderful Life is another candidate and a fine example of a great melodic, anthemic song. Myles Kennedy's voice really moves the listener in this nostalgic and bittersweet song, echoing the sentiments from Watch Over You. Breathe Again also has some nice openings and a great anthemic chorus and Life Goes On opens in shimmery fashion before transcending itself into anthemic territory too. The band really excel at this and frankly this is ripe for huge singalongs to be had in their live shows.
There are also some great rollicking acoustic passages on Make It Right, whilst I Know It Hurts is positively catchy in that head bobbing, toe tapping way.
The longest song on the album, Show Me A Sign, just shy of 6 minutes, is a very heavy brooding piece that chugs along and perhaps could have been shortened a little bit as it feels like it drags on with the guitar solo only appearing at the 5 minute mark (and a great solo at that). Closer Words Darker Than Their Wings is as the song suggests, a rather dark piece that opens with some great acoustic guitar picking and turns into a real sprawling piece switching between acoustic picking and guitar riffing, with the song descending into a wall of guitar noise and Kennedy's laboured voice trailing off, finishing off the album in dramatic fashion.
Overall this is a great album from the band that sees them all stepping up a notch. In particular,Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy seemed to have come to the fore. Kennedy's voice is just mesmerizing on this album. The album is certainly darker than previous efforts but there are also some great anthemic songs that the band do well and we don't feel it will alienate too many fans. At over an hour, Ab III is certainly going to test some listeners but frankly, the material is strong and worth a few listens. Nothing hastily put together here and the hard work on this album really seems to have paid off.
The band will be playing a series of dates in the country including a show at Hammersmith Apollo on the 22nd October. Catch them then for what promises to be an exciting show.
- Review: Mando Diao - Tuesday 15th September 2009, Islington O2 Academy, London
- Review: McFly – Tuesday 19th October 2010 – Shepherds Bush Empire, London
- Review: Annie
- Review: Is It Just Me?
- Review: The Wanted - The Wanted
- Review: Charlotte Church - Back To Scratch
- Review: Train - If It's Love
- Review: Brandon Flowers - Sunday 17th October 2010 - HMV Forum, Kentish Town
- Review: Pusher
- Review: Pariah - Safehouses EP