Alter Bridge – The Last Hero


Artist

Album

The Last Hero

Label

Napalm Records

Year

2016

For Fans Of

Nothing More, Three Days Grace.

Summary

A tale of two halves - killer up front, filler up the back.

Rating

66 / 100

Alter Bridge are the kind of band that doesn’t always live up to the sum of their parts. On the face of it, they should be amazing. They have one of the best singers on the planet, who also happens to be a fantastic guitarist in his own right. They have Mark Tremonti, a guitarist, and songwriter with a proven track record for pumping out songs that strike a perfect balance between radio-friendly and musically interesting songs. They have a very competent rhythm section, ably backing up the two better-known members of the band. However, despite this, more often than not there is still something amiss as if they have just missed the mark by an infinitesimal amount. Sadly, ‘The Last Hero‘ is another patent example of this very phenomenon.

Ostensibly, everything is where it should be. There is delicious, rich vocal harmonies, huge choruses, tasty duelling leads, surprisingly heavy riffs; all the pieces that should amount to a brilliant album, but in going hell for leather on everything, it’s almost like they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. I am at a total loss as to why a radio rock/alt metal band would think that having three different seven-minute songs was a good idea. The general rule for anything over, say, five minutes, is that they have to actually be interesting songs. Alter Bridge seemed to have missed that memo, and the longer songs are easily the most forgettable on the record. In fact, if they had been cut, the album would have been ten songs, not thirteen, and ended at a perfectly respectable 49 minutes. It would also have been a lot more enjoyable to listen to in its entirety, too.

In saying that, it’s not all bad. Far from it, actually. The first half of the album – tracks 1-6 – are all pretty fucking great, especially ‘My Champion‘ (an easy stand out), ‘Cradle To The Grave‘, and the bullshit-heavy ‘The Other Side‘, which is almost certainly the heaviest song they band have ever written, and if it isn’t, ‘Island of Fools‘ probably is. Indeed, those two songs are probably heavier than most actual ‘heavy’ bands kicking around today, and it is only a further testament that AB can really kick some serious ass when they want to. It’s always amused me that bands like Breaking Benjamin, Nickleback, Creed, Three Days Grace, Alter Bridge et al have been playing in tunings ranging from drop C to A for about twenty years now, collectively.

But the big problem here is that, once you get past ‘Cradle To The Grave‘, you don’t really much to look forward to, outside of some more ball-tearing solos. Solos don’t actually make a whole song, though, as much as whole hosts of lead guitarists would beg to differ. This particular flaw is inexcusable to me. It pisses me off to no end that a huge touring band like Alter Bridge can’t deliver a whole album, and they sure as hell aren’t alone in that. So many bigger bands release albums that would have been better being served as EP’s, but through a combination of hubris, and label pressure they trot out the filler anyway. So essentially, you’re paying double the amount for the ‘good’ songs, because the filler isn’t worth the bandwidth they’re embedded in, and it is possibly the best argument for purchasing the singles. It makes it really hard to defend a song like ‘Twilight‘ when it is so obviously phoned in. It makes it really difficult to advocate purchasing a whole album, when over half of it just isn’t worth bothering with.

Conclusion

To sum up, this album is great for the first half an hour, and an incurable dross for the second half. Sure, the second half has moments of levity, but that doesn’t at all excuse the ninety percent of boring filler found in it. Die hard Alter Bridge fans will probably still love it, though, so whatever. If you can handle sitting through forty minutes of extraneous filler for the sake of it, you’re a far more patient person than I. I promise you, had I not been reviewing this album, I wouldn’t have listened much past a skim for tracks 7-13, and really, for a band like Alter Bridge, that’s pretty piss poor.

Tracklisting

  1. Show Me A Leader
  2. The Writing On The Wall
  3. The Other Side
  4. My Champion
  5. Poison In Your Veins
  6. Cradle To The Grave
  7. Losing Patience
  8. This Side Of Faith
  9. You Will Be Remembered
  10. Crows On A Wire
  11. Twilight
  12. Island Of Fools
  13. The Last Hero

‘The Last Hero’ is out now. 

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