Overall Score: 8/10 Riffs: 8/10 Accessibility: 7/10 Vocals: 9/10 Pros: Top quality singles | Myles' Vocals | Lyrical Content Cons: Requires
Alter Bridge have over the last eleven years gone from being viewed as “Creed with a different frontman” upon their inception to unassuming arena filling rock superstars – at least on this side of the Atlantic. Their last album, the magnificent Fortress propelled them to new heights both musically and in terms of the size of their audiences, leaving The Last Hero, their first album for new record label Napalm Records, a very tough act to follow.
Opening track and first single Show Me A Leader starts The Last Hero with exactly the right tone; It’s everything a listener would want from a lead Alter Bridge single with Mark Tremonti’s guitar work firmly stamped on it and Myles Kennedy’s soaring vocals – especially in the chorus. The song also pushes a message of hope in the face of adversity – one of several lyric themes prevalent through the album.
Second track The Writing On The Wall is wholly engrossing, and has a dark undercurrent to it’s sound, not altogether surprising when the subject matter is those who don’t acknowledge climate change as reality. On the flip side, My Champion is a tremendous blast of positivity driven by Myles Kennedy’s past and the support given to him by his parents in his youth. It’s a song that could almost be defined as the opposite to any number of emo hits from the last decade.
Quality can be found all throughout the album, not just in the aforementioned early tracks. Poison In Your Vains showcases Alter Bridge at their musically heavy best matched with a chorus that is catchy as hell, while You Will Be Remembered takes on the mantle of the reflective song (ala Watch Over You and Wonderful Life from past albums). Whilst it doesn’t quite hit those skyscraper like heights, it’s a track that pulls the heartstrings nevertheless. The album’s closer and title track, The Last Hero, is simply superb. It’s even got the closest thing to a breakdown that’s ever emerged in an Alter Bridge song to date and closes the album on a high to match Myles’ scale defying vocals.
Where perhaps The Last Hero falls down slightly compared to some previous Alter Bridge albums in that it is not as instantly accessible as it’s predecessors. Aside from Show Me A Leader and My Champion, which have been chosen as singles for obvious reasons, a lot of the songs take numerous listens before they make their mark. It is definitely worth allowing the time for them to sink in, but doesn’t quite have the instant “wow” factor of Fortress in particular.
That having been said, The Last Hero is still an extremely fine album that will delight most Alter Bridge fans and win them many new ones. Alter Bridge seemingly don’t know how to make bad records and they’ve continued that trend here. Is The Last Hero the final piece of the puzzle that will take Alter Bridge to the level of festival headliners in the UK? Based on the evidence, it’s almost certain they will be, sooner or later.
The Last Hero is released on the 7th of October through Napalm Records. Pre-order the album in a variety of formats right now.