(9/10) It was in an interview I had with Mark Tremonti at the end of last year when he mentioned that the beginning of 2016 will be the starting point for working on the next Alter Bridge album. Having heard this excitement was pretty high and now, nine months later, the new record is out there in the shops.
"The Last Hero” is the name of the longplayer that includes 13 new and exciting songs, reflecting 100% Alter Bridge.
Alter Bridge is one of hese bands that shows what you can achieve if they are more than just four highly competent musicians. This quartet is forming one unit that stands like a rock. It feels like there is a generic understanding of each other’s strengths which makes each Alter Bridge album to a goodie-bag of great alternative metal songs. In this context it doesn't matter if the guys are involved in other bands - Tremonti with his solo project and Myles Kennedy also being part of Slash's band. The guys get together and internal chemistry does the job.
So, what can we say about "The Last Hero"? It wasn't an easy thing to set a next step after having released the very successful "Fortress" longplayer three years ago. However, the four guys managed and they made this next step with the new album. It's the general theme about leaders and heros that characterizes this record and it's all the typical Alter Bridge trademarks that are constantly present. What makes "The Last Hero" slightly different is the fact that the album has less of a dark expression than it was with "Fortress" and the range of sound variations got a bit wider, all this still in the framework of what we know form this fourpiece.
"Show me a Leader" was the first song that was unveiled from the new longplayer and it became the opener too. The songs marks a great start into this longplayer since it combines great vocal lines with the typical Alter Bridge heaviness, created by Tremonti's guitar and a more than robust rhythm foundation done by Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips.
Themewise the opener is addressing good leadership and a need for heroes and therefor the lyrics of "The Writing on the Wall" are more than just decoration. Ignoring signs of things going wrong these days are ignored, leading to nothing better in the future. The tune itself is a heavy one with an awesome chorus.
One of the more atmospheric songs on the album is "My Champion" which is a quite commercial one. It comes has a more melodic rock expression than a metal approach, but who cares. Listening to the guys and the way how they interpret this catchy tune is great, esp. Myles Kennedy doing a great job. A tune that comes with a similar expression is called "You Will Be Remembered". It's a track that's kept in a more moderate pace, belonging to the more soulful moments on "The Last Hero". In this sense it can be compared with "The Side of Fate"" that follows a similar pattern. Interesting with the latter is the silent acoustic section halfway down the road.
Next to these tracks the majority of "The Last Hero" is built on heavy stuff. The mentioned opening duo of songs belongs to this category but also numbers like "Poison in Your Veins", the gloomy "Crows on a Wire" that includes an excellent Tremonti riff and slower creeping "The Other Side" are alternative metal pearls that no one can do better than Alter Bridge.
What I like with this band is, that their sound has an own identity. You're listening to a song and you immediately identify it as being from Alter Bridge. Secondly, in this given framework, the four-piece has enough space for giving the tracks different expressions. Some of the songs are harder, some are more melodic, some are more soulful, but all of them are living up to the bands trademark.
With all the other commitments and obligations Alter Bridge didn't have endless time for working on this album. Things have been done in a rather short amount of time with a result that is jaw-dropping. It shows that time isn't the only factor for delivering quality. Hard work and a lot of passion are equally important. Great guys, great band, great album.
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Alternative Metal
Release Date EU: October 7th, 2016
(8/10) Mark Tremonti releases his highly anticipated new solo album "Dust" in the coming days, which is, I guess, a great moment for all fans of the iconic guitarist. "Dust" was recorded already during the "Cauterize" session. Tremonti had material for two full-length records and what makes more sense than splitting it up into two releases. By doing this Tremonti can easily bridge the waiting time till the next Alter Bridge album will see the light of day somewhere later this year.
"Dust" comes with 10 tracks that aren't throw-outs from the "Cauterize" session. Each of the tunes on "Dust" can easily handle a comparison with the predecessor.
The album starts pretty heavy. "My Last Mistake" is the name of the opener that is introduced by an enormous riff. This song is real stuff for headbangers and one of the most powerful tracks on the album. I like these downtuned riffs "The Last Mistake" provides. And I like that Tremonti has chosen this number as the opener. It's a real energizer that brings you into the right mood for the upcoming nine songs.
"The Cage" includes the pleasure of slow, almost Sabbath-like, riffs in the middle part before Tremonti unveils again his virtuosity. In the end it's a typical Tremonti song that's spiced-up a bit.
"Once Dead" doesn't sound very optimistic and indeed, it's one of the darker tracks on the album that has some raging instrumental parts combined with a melodic chorus. This interplay give the tune the tension needed and it shows why Tremonti once said that the harder tracks become Tremonti ones.
The title track has an acoustic beginning and spreads a certain ease, something that doesn't last for too long. But to my surprise it's not a giant break that kills the silence. The tune slowly builds up to a moderate paced Tremonti song that is beautiful. It's a song that differs a bit from the rest of the album and I'm surprised that "Dust" became the name giver for the entire album. Anyhow, an emotional moment on "Dust" and a good song too.
"Catching Fire" starts gloomy and dark, something that characterizes the entire song, esp. in the verse. Towards the end it gets more soulful again. "Unable to See" is more a rock song than a metal track, at least in the beginning. After such a soulful start things get harder again and the tune develops into a real anthem that should become a fix part of the Tremonti setlist.
"Dust" offers what you expect, well done Tremonti songs that are slightly harder than Alter Bridge. Each of the tracks is a little highlight in itself and the entire album will be a treat for each Tremonti/Alter Bridge fan.
Label: Fret12 Records
Genre: Alternative Metal
Release Date EU: April 29th, 2016
(7/10) Some good news from Belgium, metal outfit Fields Of Troy released their album "Hardship" which sounds pretty good. It's actually the band's second disc recorded by the renewed band (only bassist Jürgen Elias is still on board). The debut was published already back in 2011 and was named "Black Rain".
The sound of Fields Of Troy can be described as alternative metal that sounds more American than Belgium.
After a short intro the 'real' album begins. "Cold Eyes" is the name of the opener that reminds of some Tool in the verse. It's the intonation that leads to this comparison while the guitars are very much US-inspired alternative metal.
"402" is one of the more aggressive song with some screams from frontman Louis Soenens included. Still the melodic parts don't go short. Especially the chorus is an almost catchy one, but however, the mighty riffs are definitely in the forefront.
Talking about riffs, there is a lot of Tremonti in Fields Of Troy's sound. The mentioned opener "Cold Eyes" is one of these tracks and "By Now" is another. The latter comes with some female vocals done by Mayken Hoessen which results in a song that has some potential and might get some airplay.
"The Passenger" is a more silent track that is a well placed break in the middle of the tracklist.
To sum up: Good album, good musicians, good rock music.
Label: Dice Industries
Genre: Alternative Metal
Release Date EU: February 28th, 2016
Tremonti announced a few festival dates for Europe. Here they are:
27/5/16 - GER, Gelsenkirschen Rock in Revier
29/5/15 - GER, Munich Rockavaria
05/6/16 - AUT, Vienna Rock In Vienna
10/6/16 - FRA, Paris Download
12/6/16 - UK, Download Fest
17/6/16 - FRA, Clisson Hellfest
19/6/16 - Bel, Graspop
24/6/16 - DEN, Copenhagen Copenhell
As Mark Tremonti mentioned in a recent interview with MHMB, Alter Bridge is working on a new album that will be released in autumn this year. The album will be, again, produced by Michael 'Elvis' Baskette.
But there is even more to report. Fans have asked in the past for exclusive Alter Bridge packages which are now available.
Guitarist Mark Tremonti mentioned: „Gearing up for AB V, we are happy to be able to offer our fans a few of the things they have asked us for in the past. As a band we also tried to come up with a few unique items which I feel are the ultimate collector's items!” Singer Myles Kennedy added: „We are very excited to offer these exclusive and unique opportunities for the Alter Bridge fans as we begin the next chapter of our journey!”
An overview of all the offered packages can be found on FRET 12. It's worth to have a look at it.
Markus' Heavy Music Blog met Alter Bridge and Tremonti mainman Mark Tremonti for an interview before he entered the stage in Tilburg, Holland for a sold-out show with his solo project. The iconic guitarist talked about the current tour that led the band through Europe. Mark Tremonti also explained a few more details when it comes to new albums of Tremonti and Alter Bridge. Read here what the guitar player and melody writer has to tell.
Markus' Heavy Music Blog (MHMB): You are on tour in Europe right now, and there are two more shows to go. How was it?
Mark Tremonti (MT): It was great so far. We love touring in Europe since we have some of our real die-hard fans over here.
MHMB: You played, as you do today , in smaller venues. Some of those venues had been sold out rather quick. Have you guys underestimated the popularity of the Tremonti project?
MT: There are a couple of instances that led to this situation. One of them is that we changed agents in the middle of booking this tour. By the time we had our new agent on board some of the large rooms were taken already. This venue (Mark is referring to the 013) specifically, we were trying to get into the larger room but another band had booked it and they wouldn’t switch. We actually played the larger venue the last time we were here and we sold that one out too. But it wasn’t available this time, so we decided to go anyway and play the smaller venue. The same thing happened in Scotland where the show sold out really quickly too.
MHMB: I could imagine that the smaller sold out venues have a kind of special magic, that can’t be compared with the big stages. Does it make any difference for you if it’s a smaller venue or one of the bigger stages?
MT: Actually I like them both, and I like to switch between the two, as long as the stage isn’t too small, so that we can move. Sometimes smaller venues can also be really loud so that it hurts your ears a lot. Something you have less with bigger ones. But this one here, is a perfect little mix. It’s not too small, it’s not too big. It’s a fun, high energy type looking venue.
MHMB: You come back to Holland quite often. You recorded an Alter Bridge show in Amsterdam for a DVD release, you played the Melkweg in Amsterdam earlier this year and now, you have two shows with Tremonti before Christmas. It seems you like playing in Holland.
MT: Indeed. We’ll never come over to Europe without playing here. There are certain countries we not going to miss. It will not happen that we will not go to England or Germany; and the same goes for Holland. It’s just one of the key places for us.
MHMB: Next to playing the guitar you’re also the singer for Tremonti. How does this double function work for you, especially during live shows?
MT: It actually had strange effect on my guitar playing. When I toured Alter Bridge I’m highly focussed on everything around guitar which sometimes makes you play worse. Now, with Tremonti, when I’m less concerned about the guitar and more concerned about singing, I play better. I think it was Bill Murray who once said that “Don’t take yourself too seriously. Just let it happen“. So, doing the solo project has really let me open my eyes on how to approach guitar playing. I used to go over solos over and over again before each show. Now, I just go on stage and improvise which makes the flow much easier.
MHMB: What brought you to the decision of being also the singer? Was it something consciously decided or something that just happened and felt right??
MT: No, I wanted to sing. I was already in two bands with other singers. I have been a songwriter since I was a young lad and I love melodies. You could say I’m a melody writer, that’s why I wanted to sing this time. One of the biggest frustrations in my career is that people see me as a guitar player. I’m a songwriter and a melody writer That’s why it was good to find a way to also sing.
MHMB: How do you make a distinction between songs for Alter Bridge and those for your solo band? I guess at a certain moment you have an idea that could become a song … and then?
MT: Well, the only thing that really separates it is, if it is super heavy metal sounding, something that sounds like a speed metal kind of idea, it goes towards Tremonti solo stuff. Some other song ideas are more atmospheric with a lot of space for a big vocals. Those I save for Myles because he can do it more justice. He is great at the big atmospheric soaring songs. So sometimes the songs with the big arrangements and a lots of space I would like to leave for Alter Bridge.
MHMB: Tremonti songs are quite different. “Armed yourself“ is almost speed metal, “Dark Trip“ is kept quite slow and partly quiet while „Flying Monkey“ reminds of Soundgarden. Is this width of style reflecting your influences?
MT: I love Soundgarden. But, I would say it starts early on with listening to what my folks were listening to. We listened to Rod Steward and Gerry Rafferty - all this oldschool 70’s soft rock, which I still like a lot. As I got older, bands like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains became my favorites. Also, the first Nirvana record really blew me away. Those are the most mainstream kind of albums. But, my main influences are Metallica, Slayer, Celtic Frost and Black Flag. So, I love the heavy stuff but I love the melodic stuff as well.
MHMB: Talking about Grunge, it started with Creed and continued with Alter Bridge that your sound is described as 'post grunge'. Would you describe it the same way or are you annoyed by this term?
MT: I would say it’s true in the Alice In Chains / Soundgarden department. But what frustrated me most, is when people compared us with Pearl Jam, because I sound nothing like Pearl Jam, on the guitar or songwriting-wise. I think it is just because people heard a connection between Scott’s voice and Eddie Vedder’s voice. But, if you listen to the music, it sounds nothing like Pearl Jam. That really annoyed me. As far as it is about Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, those are two of my most favorite bands ever. I consider Soundgarden as being less grunge and more as an alternative / punk / rock sound. I can’t really explain it better, but they have their own sound. With Alice In Chains I love the melodies a lot. I think that Jerry Cantrell is one of the greatest melody writers and I love what he does.
MHMB: Two more shows to go and then I guess you’re going back home. How will you celebrate Christmas?
MT: Yes. I will go back home to Orlando/Florida to celebrate Christmas with the family.
MHMB: What can we expect from Tremonti and Alter Bridge in 2016?
MT: First of all there will be a new Alter Bridge album. I’m writing everyday on it and after the holiday period Myles will fly in second half of January. We start writing together, get into the studio and record through till April. When April hits, we will drop our next Tremonti record “Dust“, the new album that’s already finished. When we went into the studio last time, we recorded 20 songs and split them up into two, ten songs albums. After having released the album we will come back to Europe to tour on “Dust“. Then, I go home, I turn right around, 're-learn‘ all the Alter Bridge stuff and go on tour with Alter Bridge.
MHMB: That means, it will become a very busy 2016. Great to hear that there are new records coming in the new year.
MT: Yes, and maybe Myles will release his solo record too. Who knows.
MHMB: With such a full agenda, it sounds like co-ordinating times and dates is more than a challenge.
MT: We are just going to make sure that, once we get back on the Alter Bridge schedule, we will have an eighteen month period with having this band as the first priority. There will be other activities too in this period, but, Alter Bridge always comes first. And then, once this cycle is over, it will turn around where Slash and Tremonti is in focus for the next eighteen months.
MHMB: Now, while having the chance of talking to you, I have to ask you the question about Creed. There are rumors of a Creed reunion. Is there any truth in it?
MT: Right now I just don’t have time, you know. I look two years into the future and I’ll still be busy. So, if it would happen it would have to be in some time from now.
MHMB: Mark, thanks for your time and we're looking forward to 2016.
MT: Thanks for having me.
Thanks to Diane Bale for support.
It feels like Mark Tremonti having a good relationship with The Netherlands. I can't remember him touring through Europe without having at least listed one show in the Holland. Also this time the tour stopped in the Benelux country and it has been second to last before the band goes into a well deserved x-mas vacation period.
Before playing Zwolle the day after it was the 013 in Tilburg that hosted the band on this Saturday night. Unfortunately Tremonti only played the smaller hall, which was sold out in no time. The attempt of moving to the bigger hall failed, which was a pity for everybody that couldn't get a ticket. But for the ones being part of the show, this concert became an awesome one in a quite intimate sphere.
But before Mark Tremonti and his gang could enter the stage it was up to The Raven Age to heat up the audience. The guys from London are around since 2009; at least this is when the Dan Wright and George Harris founded the band. It took till 2013 to get things more shaped, which was also the year when the band published their debut EP - the only release till this day.
However, The Raven Age has played many shows, supporting e.g. Masterdon and Delain. That the guys learnt a lot during those past shows was clearly visible in Tilburg that evening. The five dudes played a really good show that was very much appreciated by the fans. Even though must of them came for Tremonti, The Rave Age rocked the 013 and got a lot of applause. Their powerful modern- / alternative metal was perceived very well and the venue was already quite packed while the London-based five-piece played their set.
For the ones who might missed the guys, there is a new chance, since they will be the opening act for Iron Maiden's "Book Of Souls" world tour. Knowing that George Harris' family name isn't coinsidentaly the same as the one from the might Maiden bass player, Steve is his father, not a too big surpise.
After a not too long break it was time for the master himself. Mark Tremonti and his band entered the stage. The beginning couldn't have been more furious than with the title track "Cauterize". Tremonti seems to enjoy releasing the metal beast with his solo project. Not that Alter Bridge, his main band, playing soft stuff, but the really heavy songs are reserved for Tremonti.
"Flying Monkeys" for example sounds already brutal on the album, but the live version was even harder. What a riff, man! Soundgarden in their earlier days came to my mind immediately. Talking about grunge influences, also the more moderate "All I Was" from the debut was played and sounded damn cool. OK, there was actually no number on the setlist that wasn't a treat for a true metalhead's ears.
Regardless if it's the more melancholic "Dark Trip" or the speed metal influenced "Arm Yourself", both from "Cauterize", these songs just rock. Those tunes just turned the venue into a madhouse and if you would have asked the fans, this show could have gone forever.
And even though Mark Tremonti is the mainman I also want to mention the band that supported him. Eric Friedman, Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Keegan build with their excellent play the foundation for this wall of sound that night in Tilburg.
But after 15 songs and around 80 minutes playtime, things came to an end. "Wish You Well" marked the end of a fantastic show of a great musican that stand with both feet on the ground. Cool guy, cool show, cool musician.
I'm already looking forward to early summer 2016 when we can expect Tremonti back in Europe, than even with new songs in the backpack.
Setlist The Raven Age:
Location: 013, Tilburg, The Netherlands
(8/10) Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti released his highly appreciated solo debut a few years ago. The album was called "All I was" and contained songs that have been very good, but didn't really fit to Tremonti's main band.
(7/10) A new album from Alter Bridge? I view on the cover told me: Wrong. This is the new longplayer of Furyon. But the band from Brighton, UK shows some musical parallels to the mighty band from Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy. The guys from the US are still a league of their own, but still, Furyon does a good job on their new longplayer "Lost salvation".
It is the second album of the band. Their debut was released in the UK in 2010 and got the title "Gravitas" before the rest of Europe could start to enjoy it two years later.
Now we are in 2015 and "Lost salvation" offers ten new songs that are quite good. The five-piece band recorded a powerful album that merges traditional heavy metal with alternative metal and some grunge. The result is an energizer that is heavy and melodic in one.
The two downtuned guitars are responible for the heavy riffs that are real headbanger stuff. To 'balance' this the vocal lines are very melodic and the hooks are doing their job too. Not to forget the rhythm section that powers very well and build a dense foundation for the music of Furyon.
Highlights on the album are slow "Scapegoat" that reminded my to the earlier Soundgarden. Also the opener "All that I have" belongs to the credit-side of the album. Melodic and hard.
The mighty "Good sky" is worth to be checked as well. It is again the guitars that make the difference. And if you want it a bit more melancholic I can recommend "What you need"; a song that has some Seattle cross-references too.
The production of "Lost salavtion" is very good. The album got a dynamic sound that has a real punch. Rick Beato did a very good job and the sound benefits the album for sure.
Conclusion: Good powerful metal that invites for headbanging.
Label: Dream Records
Genre: Alternative Metal
Guitarist Mark Tremonti posted a first teaser from the upcoming Tremonti album. It's a snippet from a new song and it seems that the album will be called "Cauterize". The first impression of the posted snippet is very positve and it seems that we can expect a great album in May this year.