Alter Bridge rose from the ashes of the now defunct American band, Creed. Creed, as most know, typified small and independent label magnificence. They played hard rock with a near inspirational edge, somewhat like U2. In 2004, they released 'One Day Remains,' an album created a significant signal on the American hard rock radar. It was a good effort full of stamina and determination. In 2006, Alter Bridge severed their ties with Wind-Up records hoping to take control of their destiny. Using their own money, Alter Bridge pursued 'Blackbird,' a work of their own creativity and production. So here we are: has Alter Bridge succeeded in pursuing their own manifest destiny? High hopes indeed
This is an average album. It has a rough, raw, and hard sound. It's basically consistent with what's going on in American hard rock these days. However, it does have some distinguishing characteristics. One is Myles Kennedy strong rock vocals, even though they seem to be tempered and enhanced by electronic innovation at times. Mr. Kennedy excels on the title cut. The second is the stylish and often exceptional guitar work of Mark Tremonti; this fellow actually knows how to play a guitar solo, something very uncommon in modern American rock. Mr. Tremonti does it with poise and creativity, too. Almost every song features his work; consider the opening cut 'Ties That Bind' as well as 'Before Tomorrow Comes' and 'Blackbird.'
There may be more to note on this work, but not much. 'Watch Over Me' proves again that Kennedy has lungs and versatility. It's an exceptionally quiet song nearing a ballad style. 'Break Me Down' does nearly the same, but also has the down-tuned nature found in a Nickleback song. It's pleasing, but hardly interesting. And this may be the fundamental problem with 'Blackbird:' its still the same old stuff of current American rock. Therefore, it is generally undistinguishable from their peers!
If there is some saving grace in this album it is the aforementioned guitar work of Mark Tremonti, the thunderous, almost arena, rock style, and the thoughtful lyrics. Otherwise, this is more of same. Alter Bridge has broken no new ground here. Unfortunately, as they copy current sounds, others will clone theirs. This is a vicious cycle that must be stopped in American hard rock. America (as does Europe, if you consider the current state of melodic power metal) needs innovation not the same derivative caca. For fans of Alter Bridge, I say buy this album without reservation. I was generally pleased. For others who long for significant melodic rock, I say look across the pond.
- Craig Hartranft
'Blackbird is pleasing, but hardly interesting. And this may be the fundamental problem with 'Blackbird:' its still the same old stuff of current American rock. Therefore, it is generally undistinguishable from their peers!