What is it they say, too much of anything isn't good? This crossed my mind listening to AB III, the third Alter Bridge release that hit the stores recently. In the past I have never been a fan of those typical US radio rock bands like Pearl Jam, Creed, Nickelback and many more. But Alter Bridge, the remains of Creed, have successfully built a bridge between mainstream radio rock and hard rock/heavy metal.
With this effort the band shows even more maturity than on their two previous records (2007 Blackbird and 2005 One Day Remains). AB III is as ambitious and powerful as it's predecessor, making it an album that any non-mainstream hard rock fan should take into consideration. It has a heavy (but less dark) feel through out offering technical and musical fireworks from the first notes. Add the great production and you would think this was the record of the year.
But having said that, I must confess that AB III will not top my list at the end of the year. The main reason is that after every spin the album leaves me hanging in the corner like a heavy weight boxer in round 15. Whether that has to do with the length of the album (over 65 minutes), the fact that most tracks are built around the same song structure, or that Myles Kennedy's voice, which cannot stop hitting the high notes, is not clear. Don't get me wrong here: his voice is convincing and he shows his versatility in the slower tracks. But overall, and too often, I long for a break and could stop from hitting the fast forward button a few times.
But that doesn't mean there are no highlights. All Hope Is Gone and Fallout are two of them: great, powerful rocking tracks with superb guitar work and a sense of variety that I miss on the majority of the other tracks. A warm welcome is also given to the slower tracks Ghost Of Days Gone By, Life Must Go On and the impressive power ballad Wonderful Life. On these tracks Alter Bridge lowers the intensity and brings down the relentless guitar work and rasping vocals.
Songs like Still Remains, Make It Right, Breathe Again and Show Me a Sign are too good to be called filler, but do not distinguish themselves from the remainder of the album, even after a serious number of spins. They contribute to the exhausting feeling that the record leaves you with.
There is no doubt AB III is a consistent, fully packed, and high quality hard rocking roller coaster of a record. But it also feels over-consistent. Where, for example, Dream Theater can keep your attention for over an hour, Alter Bridge fails. I accept that Alter Bridge is not a progressive band like Dream Theater, but more mainstream hard rock. But just extending the same formula is not going to make an album stronger. Too much of anything isn't good. Moreover, sometimes less is more.
There is no doubt AB III is a consistent, fully packed, and high quality hard rocking roller coaster of a record. But it also feels over-consistent. Just extending the same formula is not going to make an album stronger. Too much of anything isn't good.