Friday, 24 December 2010

Alter Bridge - AB III

(Originally written for Under City Lights / Rare FM)

Alter Bridge’s third album, the logically titled AB III, sees the band inject some morose tonality in to their hard rock sound, presumably as a result of the apparently “dark” nature of the album’s concept. They indulge their more metallic side frequently, with opener ‘Slip In To The Void’ straddling a surprisingly well-executed line between groove-metal and melodic rock.

That’s not to say everything is blisteringly heavy - after all, this is Alter Bridge. Whilst the album doesn’t quite keep up with the intensity with which it starts, most of the songs are surprisingly hard hitting. ‘All Hope Is Gone’ is a slowed rocker with a bizarrely Celtic vibe, whereas album high-light, ‘Make It Right’, provides a mix of rock-balladry and Jimmy Page styled guitar twanging. Conversely, ‘Wonderful Life’ seems to be a generic ballad that falls a bit flat.

The band are clearly focussed on getting the balance between melody and heaviness just right, but this occasionally result in a split personality to tracks. ‘Ghost of the Days Gone By’ fleets between delicate verses and power-chord driven choruses before departing in to an almost Pantera-esque breakdown. Tracks such as ‘Isolation’ and ‘I Know It Hurts’ see Alter Bridge achieving their goal more succinctly, with the heavy riffage brilliantly juxtaposed by the soaring vocals of Myles Kennedy which serve to accentuate the melody behind the heaviness.

AB III is certainly quite a far cry from the band’s earlier material. I’ve always been rather on the fence about Alter Bridge, but AB III seems to cement the band as one worthy of attention. Whilst the album can drag on a bit, it primarily remains a prime example of strong, modern day rock and roll. At the very least, it’s deserves a good few listens from anyone who has ever wanted unfashionably long hair.

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