Despite the fact that their previous album ABIII was a critical and commercial success, and they have toured arenas (and sold out the vast majority of them) over the last couple of years, in some ways Alter Bridge still feel like something of a well kept secret within the rock community. Whereas most casual music fans have at least heard of the likes of Biffy Clyro or Muse, Alter Bridge are probably not a name familiar to the majority of them. Finally, with their fourth album Fortress, this should be set to change.
Most great hard rock albums feature a cracking opening track and in Cry Of Achilles, Alter Bridge have that box firmly ticked on Fortress. With an intro that builds and builds before bursting into life and a chorus that is begging to be sung by thousands in arenas across the world, Cry Of Achilles is among Alter Bridge’s best songs to date and is a sign of quality that is maintained across the album.
Alter Bridge’s lead guitarist Mark Tremonti released a solo album (the excellent “All I Was”) last year, and Alter Bridge look to have benefitted tremendously from his experimentations away from the group. Fortress features numerous songs where the guitar tone is heavier and darker than before with lead single Addicted To Pain being prime example of this. The song contains at least two main riffs that will induce guaranteed headbanging, voluntary or otherwise.
Another welcome aspect to Fortress is that Tremonti takes on lead vocals for a song, “Waters Rising”, and it does not feel at all out of place and provides an excellent contrast to the always phenomenal Myles Kennedy. Myles manages to raise his extremely high standards yet again with songs like Bleed It Dry, Calm The Fire and Lover in particular showcasing his wonderful range. The always reliable rhythm section of Brian Marshall and Scott ‘Flip’ Phillips are metronomic with their precision as usual, but both are also afforded the opportunity to cut loose on occasion, and the album benefits from their increased contributions. The album concludes with the title track, which is is a seven and a half minute epic in the vein of Blackbird. Whilst not quite as iconic as the title track from their second album, it is a wonderful end to what will be viewed by many as a career defining album, certainly in terms of what has come thus far.
It will be a huge shock if this album is anything other than an enormous success. It deserves nothing less, and may well be the final piece of the puzzle that sees Alter Bridge headline major festivals within the next couple of years. Alter Bridge are the hard rock band the world needs and with Fortress they have their invitation to the top table of rock music. The secret should be well and truly out now.