Alter Bridge – Blackbird

As I’m sitting in my car and trying to think of the best band to listen to on my drives home from work, I immediately knew who I could listen to. This next band I’ve followed for quite some time, even back when the original members were part of the now defunct band Creed. With the loss of singer Scott Stapp, and the addition of new lead singer Myles Kennedy (along with the addition of the remaining original members), the band Alter Bridge was formed. Having released four albums over several years, Alter Bridge has produced some of my favorite tracks of modern rock, and some of my favorite music to listen to while travelling.

Alter Bridge is a four-piece band from Michigan, consisting of former-Creed members Mark Tremonti on guitar/vocals, Brian Marshall on bass guitar, and Scott Phillips on drums, along with Myles Kennedy on vocals/guitar. Their sound definitely falls into straight-up contemporary rock. Beyond that, they also range in different musical genres from hard rock to post-grunge to alternative metal, depending on which album you’re listening to. Of the four albums released, my favorite happens to be the their least marketed and heaviest album “Blackbird.”

At the point of releasing this album, Alter Bridge was able to fully collaborate with Kennedy, who had entered as a late addition to the recording process in their previous album, “One Day Remains.” I can easily hear the difference between this album and their last album, as the music is much heavier and the lyrics are more powerful, creating more chances of head-bobbing and playing the air-guitar. Separating themselves from the Creed-like sound of their last album, the album begins with a bang, as the first two song “Ties That Bind” and “Come To Life” prove their new direction. Relying on heavier riffs and bassier tones, “Blackbird” stands out as one of the premier hard rock albums released in 2007.

Veterans Marshall and Phillips know what they’re in their respective instruments. They both are able to carry each song with ease, while adding subtle moments of genius within the album. The drums beats are groovy yet technical, as the necessary beat is generated at the right moments on this album. Slower songs like “Brand New Start” show the more groovier side, while songs like “Rise Today” and “White Knuckles” make you wonder how the drum set is still intact because of the constant barrage of drumsticks. The bass is the perfect complement to both the rhythm and lead guitar.

Alter Bridge - Blackbird
Photo by Irtia

Of all my the different guitarists on my iTunes Library, Mark Tremonti happens to be one of my favorites, simply because of his pure musical ability. He can jump between scales with ease, he can sweep pick, he can hammer-on and pull-off better than most guitarists I’ve heard, and he can create beautiful melodies. The lighter side of Tremonti is apparent in the songs “Before Tomorrow Comes” and “Watch Over You,” where he plays the acoustic and electric guitar beautifully, adding to the elegance and meaningful voice of Kennedy. Amongst these slower and deeper songs are heavier songs like “One By One” and “Coming Home,” where the listener can only imagine how hard he is playing that guitar. Powerful solos are spread throughout the album, adding to the creativity of each song. Tremonti’s style and influence is easily felt in this album, and provides some of the greatest riffs and licks in modern rock.

The greatest thing about this album? Myles Kennedy. Having the chance to fully contribute in the recording process, this album easily becomes “the Myles Kennedy album.” His vocal quality is astounding, as he has one of the most stunning voices in modern rock. His range is amazing; he can dig deep for lower tones and rise high for falsetto notes. The variety of vocal styles also shift during the album, from crisp and clear notes to dirtier yells. I always listen to his voice with my jaw-dropped, because Kennedy can truly belt those notes. On top of his vocal quality is the lyrical quality he brings to this band. Relying on simple messages like love, hope, and standing up for what’s right, the listener can easily be manipulated by the lyrics. Kennedy is a master on the vocals, and should be considered as one of the greatest rock singers of modern rock.

My all-time favorite song from this band happens to be universally accepted by the fan base as Alter Bridge’s greatest song, and has what I believe to be the greatest lyrics and message: “Blackbird.” The song is simply about the death of a friend, but can so easily be interpreted in different ways. The band performs its best in this song, as the drums, bass, lead and rhythm guitar, and vocals all align perfectly. Of all the songs on this album, “Blackbird” is the only one that makes me stop what I’m doing and listen uninterrupted. My favorite lyric of the entire album is within this song’s bridge:

“Ascend, may you find no resistance / know that you made such a difference / And all you leave behind will live to the end / The cycle of suffering goes on / But the memories of you stay strong / Someday I too will fly and find you again.”

The chorus is also very dramatic and moving, and gives me the goose bumps every time I listen to the closing moments:

“Let the wind carry you home / Blackbird fly away / May you never be broken again / Beyond the suffering you’ve known / I hope you find your way / May you never be broken again / May you never be broken again” (source)

Alter Bridge - Blackbird

Please support this amazing album, even if it is only to listen to their title track. Despite its lack of commercial success compared to their other albums, “Blackbird” is Alter Bridge’s most moving and powerful album. Fans of Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry, Seether, and other commercially successful rock bands will surely love this album. It is the perfect album to listen to while driving, and I guarantee you’ll have moments when you treat your steering wheel as a drum set. Alter Bridge has recently released its album “Fortress” to iTunes and other record stores, and is currently planning their tour around North America at the end of the year.

Please check out this Youtube video of their title track “Blackbird”:

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