Creed offshoot Alter Bridge delivers powerful sophomore album

“Blackbird” shows post-Creed innovation

Over three years since the release of their first album, Alter Bridge has now released their sophomore effort.

The band, which features three members from the defunct multi-platinum act Creed, continues to branch out from their former group’s shadow. Embracing a heavier style amid a maturing sound, Blackbird is an improvement on their debut.

Lead singer Myles Kennedy, formerly of The Mayfield Four, was more involved with the writing of this record, and his impact is felt throughout. His vocals have improved and fit the songs more naturally, with several songs incorporating his stunningly high range. He also contributes a good deal of guitar and, coupled with another impressive display from the supremely talented Mark Tremonti, the riffs hardly contain any of the signature Creed sound. In fact, the whole band has grown musically, sounding tighter and hitting harder than ever before.

Songs like “White Knuckles” and the great lead track “Ties That Bind” are glimpses of the band’s metal influences, such as previous album One Day Remains’ “Matalingus” demonstrated. “Come to Life” features an aggressive lead guitar riff and an interesting touch from Kennedy on the verses. “Buried Alive” is an excellent example of squealing guitars teamed with a churning chorus. The hammering rhythm section drives “Coming Home,” accompanied by another big chorus, while “Brand New Start” and “Before Tomorrow Comes” are sufficient mid-tempo numbers, benefiting from the different guitar effects employed.

Lead single “Rise Today” fills the role as the album’s anthem, much the same way as “Open Your Eyes” previously did. The title track is a somber 8-minute epic, highlighted by the extraordinary guitar solo from Tremonti. “Watch Over You” takes things down a notch with a touching ballad — something a band like Nickelback only wishes they could write.

A surging chorus carries “One by One,” but “Break Me Down” never strays far from a comfortable formula, failing to match the freshness around it. Closer “Wayward One” is a good song but feels a little out of place, unable to end things on as powerful a note as the prior track “Blackbird” possessed.

Freed from the pompousness of Scott Stapp and the limitations of Creed, Alter Bridge makes nothing but great strides here. Led by Kennedy, a better singer than Stapp, and the shredding guitar skills of Tremonti, they have gotten better with time. After having parted ways with original label Wind-Up last year, the last ties to Creed are now severed, and they have officially moved on. Thankfully, it appears as though Alter Bridge is here to stay.


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