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Alter Bridge - Walk The Sky (Album Review)

Friday, 25 October 2019 Written by Simon Ramsay

Hammered out in what may or may not come to be known as a wham-bam, thank you ma’am style of recording, Alter Bridge’s sixth album was crafted in a whirlwind five week period that had led to some of its greatest strengths and the odd nagging concern. Deliberately their most out-and-out batch of inspiring anthems, ‘Walk The Sky’ largely typifies why they’re still the reigning kings of emotionally intense, ferociously well executed arena rock.

Frontman Myles Kennedy, who is something of a rock ‘n’ roll Zen master, prone to discussing philosophy and concepts of living without being preachy or pretentious, has described this album as an empowered and confident spiritual answer to the band’s unflinchingly dark masterpiece ‘AB III.’ 

Beginning with a sonic nod to Slip To The Void, with markedly different metaphysical musings, the ghostly One Life leads into Wouldn’t You Rather, a defiant metallic-grunge rocker that sets the thematic tone for an album that explores being present in the moment, and accepting what happens in this life and beyond, as a journey.

It’s an idea that’s suitably echoed by a high octane set of songs that get to the point with carpe diem immediacy.

Such kineticism is down to the fact that, after writing separately for the first time in the band’s history because of their busy schedules, Kennedy and guitarist Mark Tremonti’s demos were quickly knocked into shape in the studio to produce more classically structured, streamlined songs than the prog epics that dominated their last two records.  

In The Deep, with its electrically charged opening lick scything through storm clouds a la Joe Satriani, dynamically evolves until a brilliant chorus, played out over thrillingly tense chord changes, seals the deal. Likewise, Native Son, Forever Falling—a coruscating, thrashy track with Tremonti on lead vocals—Take The Crown and Godspeed, which boasts an almost AOR touch we’ve not heard from the band before, highlight Alter Bridge’s enviable ability to build a song to breaking point with clever tempo, mood and key changes before paying it off with a monster hook.

What’s especially exciting about this album, though, is the deployment of swirling synth textures and exotic elements throughout, particularly fist-flinging banger Pay No Mind and spine tingling beauty Dying Light.  Adding to the record’s unique identity, such atmospheric embellishments varnish the lyrical sentiments with a dramatic glaze.

Although mainly positive, the speedy recording schedule has led to problems.  Given the constraints, 14 songs are too many to perfect and, as a result, some sections, like the title track’s close-but-no-cigar chorus, fall uncharacteristically short. Most are quite structurally formulaic, too, with many of Tremonti’s solos almost thrown in towards the end as a fan-pleasing afterthought.

Furthermore, both Tear Us Apart, with its strangely cliched platitudes, and the plodding Indoctrination, are dispensable filler. There’s a killer 10 track record in here that, were there enough time for objectivity, could and should have been released instead.  

That is not enough to derail another strong addition to the Alter Bridge catalogue, but the warning signs are there. Let’s hope ‘Walk The Sky’ doesn’t set a potentially dangerous precedent, whereby Tremonti and Kennedy increasingly work apart in order to rush out records and satisfy commitments.  Alter Bridge’s music is too important for that. 

Alter Bridge Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat December 14 2019 - NOTTINGHAM Motorpoint Arena
Sun December 15 2019 - MANCHESTER Arena
Tue December 17 2019 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Wed December 18 2019 - BIRMINGHAM Arena
Fri December 20 2019 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena
Sat December 21 2019 - LONDON O2 Arena

Click here to compare & buy Alter Bridge Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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