Having climbed up the Download Festival bill to reach main support in 2014, and with second run of UK arena shows on the horizon, Alter Bridge are arguably the band knocking the loudest on the festival headliners door. Having ramped up the heaviness on 2013’s superb ‘Fortress’, the band are back with its follow up, ‘The Last Hero’.
Based solely on initial singles ‘Show Me A Leader’ and ‘My Champion’, it would appear that the band have opted for a more upbeat, palatable sound. While there’s nothing particularly bad about either track, ‘My Champion’ in particular feels just a little too sanded down and smoothed in order to appease the radio rock masses.
However, these songs merely represent a facet of ‘The Last Hero’s sound, as it occupies a slew of different moods through its thirteen tracks. ’Writings On The Wall’ showcases a more technical approach to the band’s more metallic leanings, and is an immediate standout both in the context of this record and the band’s wider catalogue. This sonic beefiness manifests itself once again in the lumbering menace of ‘The Other Side’; a frequent champion of contemporary artists such as Periphery and Animals As Leaders, Mark Tremonti’s low tuned guitar work brings an element of modernity that many of the band’s peers so often fail to achieve.
It almost goes without saying that Myles Kennedy’s vocals are the star of the show. Sounding more accomplished than ever before, Kennedy demonstrates both incredible range and emotion, particularly on more sentimental tracks ‘Cradle To Grave’ and ‘You Will Be Remembered’. However, while his talent is without question, their sheer power can have a slight ice cream headache effect on repeat listens.
With ‘The Last Hero’, Alter Bridge have created another great record that will ensure they remain firmly on the arena circuit, but have yet to deliver a song so undeniable that their place at the top is ensured.
‘The Last Hero’ by Alter Bridge is released on October 7th on Napalm Records.
Words by Josh Graham (@jollyboyjosh_)