There is no hotter band in the world of metal at the moment than Alter Bridge. Formed from the ashes of Creed in 2004, their rise in the past couple of years from relative obscurity to a leviathan of the metal scene is unparalleled. This is in no small part due to the proficiency of their lead vocalist, Myles Kennedy, whose work with Slash last year led to his inclusion in five songs on the guitar legend’s first solo album. With Kennedy also focusing on a solo release of his own early next year (and a Creed reunion tour in the mix as well) you might be forgiven for asking yourself whether Alter Bridge’s 11 October album, AB III, might turn out to be just as run-of-the-mill as its title.
However it seems Kennedy is as skilled at juggling as he is with his music, and AB III seems to prove both of those points, showcasing Alter Bridge and their lead singer at the peak of their careers. The record opens with the haunting effects and brooding vocals of’ ‘Slip to the Void’, a song that drops about halfway into a monolith of a riff, with Alter Bridge’s personal signature stamped all over it. Same story for the follow-up and lead single, ‘Isolation’. As a whole, the album is that little bit heavier than Alter Bridge’s work up till now, and treats darker themes of depression and alienation. However, nearly every one of the fifteen songs has an expansive character of its own, all while keeping the usual bittersweet Alter Bridge tone.
AB III is punctuated with stand-out songs, particularly ‘Still Remains’, the melodramatic ‘Fallout’, and the two melancholy closers, ‘Life Must Go On’ and ‘Words Darker than Their Wings’. The incongruously poppy third track ‘Ghost of Days Gone By’ is the only song not to fit cohesively into the fabric of the album. It’s not a bad song per se, but could even sit more comfortably in the middle of a Paramore album! A slight departure of direction into heavier material—even progressive metal in some cases—may alienate certain fans, and I would recommend a couple of listens to allow the album to grow on you. But to me this record is just as expansive and accessible as previous offerings and slightly edges their celebrated Blackbird.
For a cheeky look at the album, you can sift through the NME blog, where the album is being streamed in its entirety. Alter Bridge can be seen at the peak of their powers at Southampton’s own Guildhall on Saturday 23rd.