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Alter Bridge - 'Fortress' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/96/03/90/alter-bridge-fortress-23-1387664033.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 21, 2013    
 
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Could well be one of the benchmark heavy rock albums to be released in last ten years.

Fourth album from the band originally labelled "Creed with a different singer" is on first listen not an easy one to live with. Counting myself as an Alter Bridge fanatic I was surprised at how much I struggled to like this album initially. My expectations were high after the moody darkness of its predecessor. According to vocalist Kennedy this was the quickest and easiest album that the band had put together. Why then was I finding it one of the least easy to listen to?

Bands grow; bands evolve, with the best ones going through the process so that it's barely noticeable. Perhaps I was being hyper-sensitive to the undoubted evolution in sound that has taken place on 'Fortress'. Kennedy has readily admitted that the band tried different things on it and took a few chances and maybe I was looking too closely. Determined to like it I played nothing else continuously for a full four weeks prior to its release and I'm glad that I did. To label it as a grower is perhaps a little clichéd, because although this is clearly Alter Bridge it reveals nuances, extra dynamism and a variations in arrangement that have never been tried before. Up-tempo material – also perhaps a first for the band – such as opener 'Cry Of Achilles' is epic, never overblown and features a breakdown that is fresh and untried. In contrast, 'Addicted To Pain' is breakneck yet the most obvious choice as a single and yet it's unlike previous singles. Other changes to the overall Alter Bridge sound come from guitarist Mark Tremonti, and not from his guitar. Fresh from his solo album escapades he shares vocal duties with Kennedy on the subtle 'Lover'. Alter Bridge can hardly be described as progressive rock but there are syncopated rhythms, varied textures and subtle time changes on the crunching 'The Uninvited', echoed vocals and staccato guitar riffs aplenty on 'Peace Is Broken' and the title track is the most epic song that the band has ever recorded running in at nearly eight minutes.

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In fact through the whole album you get the sense that this really is the album that Alter Bridge wanted to make. All the guitar solos still scream out from both Kennedy and Tremonti, musically drummer Phillips and bassist Brian Marshall are faultless and Kennedy has rarely sounded better; he's clearly happier belting it out here than he was on the Slash solo album, yet this album is clearly different from the previous three.

The experimentation on 'Fortress' has clearly worked and the band has been vindicated for trying something different. You won't "get it" to start with but live with it for a while and you'll come around to my way of thinking that 'Fortress' is not only the band's best album to date but that it could well be one of the benchmark heavy rock albums to be released in last ten years.

Mike Newdeck

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