Alter Bridge - Blackbird Review
Posted by Dan Marsicano on 10.12.2007
Blackbird is Alter Bridge's first album on their new label and their first album written as a four piece unit. Can Alter Bridge make Blackbird fly to success or will it crash land into the sea of mediocrity?
Myles Kennedy-Lead Vocals, Guitar
Mark Tremonti-Guitar, Backing Vocals
The Track Listing
1. Ties That Bind-3:19
2. Come To Life-3:51
3. Brand New Start-4:54
4. Buried Alive-4:35
5. Coming Home-4:19
6. Before Tomorrow Comes-4:06
7. Rise Today-4:21
9. One By One-4:20
10. Watch Over You-4:19
11. Break Me Down-3:56
12. White Knuckles-4:24
13. Wayward One-4:46
14. We Don’t Care At All-3:46
The sophomore album can be one that makes or breaks a band. Some bands pull through with great albums that improves upon their debut (Breaking Benjamin and Foo Fighters) and other are disappointingly bland or unspectacular (Puddle of Mudd and The Vines). For Alter Bridge, Blackbird is a chance to start over. With a new label and Myles getting more involved in the writing and recording of the album (much of the first album was written before Myles joined the band), Blackbird is an evolution of their sound, with a little more emphasis on the heavy side of the band.
The band makes sure to get the listener’s attention with “Ties That Bind” and “Come To Life.” The songs are quick blast of rock with a metal edge to them. Tremonti slays on the guitar, pulling out a solo on “Ties That Bind” that wouldn’t be out of place on an 80’s Metallica album. “Come To Life” starts out like a Korn song, but turns to a solid rock song with melodic backing vocals by Tremonti.
The band still has their trademark softer songs mixed along with the heavier number. “Brand New Start” starts out with acoustic guitars but has power behind it. Tremonti’s solo is very blues-inspired and full of emotion. The song ends on a hopeful note with an acoustic guitar finishing out the track. “Watch Over You” could have been a b-side to any Led Zeppelin track, as the song has that feel to it. While it is the slowest song on the album, that doesn’t mean that it is any less powerful. The guitar duo of Kennedy and Tremonti really gel well on the track.
The one-two punch of “Before Tomorrow Comes” and “Rise Today” really shows what the band is about. These songs are the most commercial tracks on the album, but they both kick a lot of ass. If these two songs were on the radio right now side by side, this album would sell like hotcakes. It also helps the fact that these two songs lead into the epic title track, “Blackbird.”
It is tough to describe how amazing “Blackbird” is as a song. The song, dedicated to a friend of the band who passed away, starts out very slowly with beautiful acoustic melodies driven by Kennedy’s passionate vocals. The song builds into a strong middle section, but the emotion doesn’t disappear. The solo section of the song, which goes on for over a minute, is absolute guitar heaven for rock fans. The ending, which is a single acoustic guitar, ends the song perfectly. The band puts in their best effort together, and if there is one song that defines Alter Bridge, this song is it.
The rest of the album is mixed between heavier songs (“White Knuckles” and “We Don’t Care At All") and softer songs with a load of melody (“Break Me Down” and “Wayward One”). The great thing about this album is that none of the songs seem like filler, or songs the band made at the last minute to fill up space. Each song shows a band that is determined to put in 100% into every song.
Myles Kennedy’s vocals are really something special. It is nice to see a man of his range performing in modern rock music. Unlike most vocalists in this genre today, he can hit high notes, low notes, and even have a snarl to his vocals from time to time. Kennedy is definitely one of the best vocalists out today in the rock music scene. I haven’t even mentioned that Kennedy also plays guitar on the album too. He is underrated as a guitarist, and anybody that has seen the band live knows that Kennedy can play a mean guitar. He gets some chances to solo too and really impresses with his tasteful playing.
Mark Tremonti puts in the best performance of his career on the guitar. Unlike One Day Remains, there are more heavy songs and that is when Tremonti seems to let loose a bit more. His solos are spectacular and show off a skill that was never exposed in Creed. His backing vocals are also more up front in the mix and he even gets a chance to sing a few lines on his own, especially on “Come To Life.” His vocals had another interesting element to the music.
The rhythm section of Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips, bass and drums respectively, are a solid unit. They gel well as a team and really play off each other very well. Thankfully, Marshall is more up in the mix than in One Day Remains, so he is more clearly audible. Phillips brings the speed to a few of the song and shows off his immense talent.
Blackbird is definitely in my top ten of 2007 list right now. The album is a solid blend of modern radio-friendly material and head banging goodness. The band really works well together, and the addition of Kennedy in the writing process has really elevated the band from the “Creed” tag that was given to them when they first formed. Fans of any kind of rock will eat this album up. The fact that it can be bought on Itunes for only $7.99 is insane. There is nothing else I can tell you, except pick this album up.
The 411: I can't praise this album enough. Alter Bridge took the blueprints of the first album and totally expanded upon it for Blackbird. The band shows that they are one of the best rock bands out there today. If you don't have it yet, pick it up as soon as possible. Rock fans, you will not be disappointed.