Band: Alter Bridge
Album: Walk The Sky
Release Date: 18th October, 2019
Label: Napalm Records
Review by Sean
This is always a tough moment for me. A new Alter Bridge album. I’m always more nervous than when listening to any other band, and I guess it’s because you never REALLY know what you’re gonna get from Myles and Mark.
So, trepidatiously, I started the album up, and waited. ‘One Life’ kicked in, and serves as an intro track, but honestly, could have been tacked onto the front of ‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ and it wouldn’t have missed anything. It’s got an air of ‘Slip to the Void’, the opener from “ABIII”. Haunting vocal opening before a blast of music from nowhere. If I’m honest, the chorus is a bit weak for an opening track, but this is unmistakably Alter Bridge in sound. No other band sounds like they do, and from the off it seems like they’ve continued to grow while still maintaining that sound that got them where they are today.
‘In the Deep’ is one that’s been released prior to the album, and so I’m quite well acquainted with it. I like it a lot, because it’s my favourite type of AB song, Myles singing over not much music, then a chorus that packs a punch. You can tell they’ve gone in a darker direction lyrically as well, though that tends to bring out the best in them (see Blackbird and ABIII), so I really don’t mind that. In fact, darker AB tends to be my favourite side of the band, so I’m hoping for more as we go along.
‘Godspeed’ sounds a bit less like Alter Bridge, if I’m honest. It’s still definitely them, but I dunno. I can hear a little Shinedown in here too. It’s a more relaxed, chilled track, which maybe steers my mind that way, but Myles will always tower over Brent vocally, and this shows it.
‘Native Son’ gives us a tiny restrained intro before the guitars come crashing through the door and just power through everything. It’s a heavier one, but keeps the dark lyrical tone going, with those vocal harmonies sounding excellent, if a bit challenging for Mark to try to do live in some parts. It’s a dark horse for a potential favourite for me, but definitely a highlight.
‘Take the Crown’ is another one released prior to the album, and I loved it when I heard it, and still do. It’s got a real “ABIII” sound to it, which personally I love. It’s a bit of a “fuck you” of a track, maybe that’s why I like it so much. Either way, it’s great. Those crunching guitars, Myles’ voice powerful as ever. Not sure what that brief Arabian sounding riff was about, but other than that, the track is flawless.
‘Indoctrination’ is a much slower track, but not any less heavy. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t so gripped by this as I have been the other stuff so far. Being fully honest, I sort of spaced out for most of it. Not a good sign, but y’all might think different. Just, for me it really wasn’t up to muster.
I love the guitar work in ‘The Bitter End’ so much, and even the lyrics are slightly more upbeat than you’d expect. We’re not totally out of the angst woods just yet, but there’s a hope in here for now. Personally, I’m going through some stuff right now, and I needed to hear the chorus on this track. It truly helped me a little, right when I needed it.
A third one we’ve had chance to hear before, ‘Pay No Mind’ is Alter Bridge 101. Formulaic, granted, but I enjoy it. It’ll get people going live and is another highlight for me. The chorus gets special mention too, ‘cos if the second half of it doesn’t get your head banging, you have no soul. I think my favourite is between this and ‘The Bitter End’, but we’ve still got a few tracks to go, so that might change.
Oh, wow. The intro on ‘Forever Falling’ is hauntingly beautiful but sadly doesn’t last too long before the song kicks in proper, and we get a full-on Tremonti vocal here. I like when we get the occasional lead from him, as it shows that he can do so much more than just be lead guitars. It also lets Myles take a step back and provide some excellent harmonies. Expect this one to be a feature live, roughly halfway through the set, so Myles can have a small breather. Another damn fine song, and suddenly picking a favourite gets harder and harder.
I like ‘Clear Horizon’, but for the second time, I can’t help but hear a touch of Shinedown in it. It’s still a good song, but it’s another one that I sort of faded in and out of. Chorus is good, but the verses didn’t hold me that much.
‘Walking on the Sky’ is your title track, sort of, and right away I was digging the melancholy sound of it. You get a sense they poured everything they had into this one, because it just sounds so much bigger, so much more than the rest of what we’ve heard so far. It’s a powerful track and makes you wonder where this energy and passion was for some of the weaker tracks on offer here.
We’re approaching the end, but we’ve still got a couple of songs left, and first up is ‘Tear Us Apart’. It’s got a “One Day Remains” sort of sound to it, only more mature. I like it well enough, but that album was never one of my favourites, so I can take or leave this one, however with ‘Dying Light’ all things are forgiven. It’s another of my picks for a favourite, and a beautiful way to close an album.
In summary, Alter Bridge have done it again with “Walk the Sky”. It isn’t perfect, by any means, but the good far, FAR outweighs the bad here, and I can assure you I will be making this album part of my regular listening material.
As for an overall favourite track… Fuck it. I’m gonna give that to ‘Pay No Mind’. It didn’t touch me as much as some others did, but it’s most likely the track you’re gonna hear most often from places.
9 out of 10
01. One Life
02. Wouldn’t You Rather
03. In The Deep
05. Native Son
06. Take The Crown
08. The Bitter End
09. Pay No Mind
10. Forever Falling
11. Clear Horizon
12. Walking On The Sky
13. Tear Us Apart
14. Dying Light