It is unbelievable that so much time has passed since October 18, 2019, when "Alter Bridge's" sixth album named "Walk The Sky" was released !!
It is without a doubt one of the most anticipated albums we had in 2019, many have been waiting for this album and especially your loyal servants. It is an album created under time pressure and remote work (which we know very well today) and some say that you feel it a bit in the album. But no matter what they say, this album is great, it's huge, it's exciting and it's exactly what we like, music at its best !!
Unlike previous in the albums where Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti would sit down to build the base of the songs and then come to the studio and start working with the rest of the band on building the entire song. This time there was no time for it. Mark was busy touring with his band and Myles was busy writing his solo album and touring with Slash. So there was not much choice left and they had to arrive ready to the studio at the time of the recordings.
The idea for the musical direction started from Mark who on one of his travels, his ear picked up the "Tech Noir" song by the British Synthwave band "Gunship". Mark really liked the sound and vibe of the synthesizers that took him back in time just like the "Stranger Things" TV series did to him. He texted the song to Myles and asked for his opinion, Myles jumped on Mark's idea and started working on the album.
Let's make it clear, you will not find songs full of 80s synth or pop here, but you will no doubt feel these elements in a number of songs and maybe even feel the inspiration. Because that's what gave the two the inspiration to write.
Speaking of inspiration, the two shared in one of the interviews prior to the release of the album that they were inspired in different ways. Mark decided to go in a different direction and sought inspiration in the World Wide Web. He said he would look for rhythms, loops, and samples of synthesizers or drums and when they play in the background he improvises and looks for the riff that catches him. Myles on the other hand worked with an editing software called Logic in which he put in all sorts of rhythm ideas, mostly drums and he would improvise and try to look for the riffs and rhythms that catch him.
(Photo: Alter Bridge)
All the band members shared ideas remotely together, they uploaded their demos to a certain platform and everyone would respond, give feedback, or develop it into something else. But they knew they needed to get to the studio with ready-made songs and not basic demos. Since they did not have time to write everything in the studio but straight to get to practice and record. So for three months, from March to May the band members entered the studio and started working on the songs with their regular producer Michael Baskette.
In terms of the lyrics and atmosphere of the album, both Myles and Mark felt it was the complementary opposite of "AB III", his yin-yang. In "AB III" Myles was in a difficult period and this was reflected in the lyrics, the album was gloomy and the lyrics focused on seeking hope, loss, frustration, and despair. This time and as you can see on the album cover, "the spirit is more uplifting". The texts speak of positive spirituality, hope, and fighting. You will not only find roses here, yes, there is also some darkness here.
The track that opens the album "One Life" is indeed a section full of text and meaning but does not stand on its own nor is it an opening to what happens during the album, it just allows you to get organized before the two bombers hovering over you are going to drop some respectable tons of explosives.
The second track is the anthem of this album and not just because it was chosen for the album's first single, "Wouldn't You Rather" contains all the elements of Alter, strong riffs, a sharp and honed solo, a melody, and his gentle voice in Myles' catchy sentences. This song is a result of the begging of Michael the producer to Myles for missing a catchy and exploding song on the album. What you hear is not riffs created by the Texas Chainsaw but by his guitar friend.
The third track "In The Deep" continues the previous one with intensity and rhythm. It was released as the album's third single and it's quite understandable given the deadly combination of the strong opening that combines Myles 'fingering with Scott Phillips' drums, it's like watching an exploding minefield and then falling with the rhythm of the stick on the snare rim is just a pleasure. The chorus feels a bit messy to us but when singing out loud we don't pay much attention to it.
The next piece is a blessed and different musical experiment from what we have known from Alter until today. "Godspeed" is one of the songs that combines the synthesizers we talked about earlier, when here the guitars take up less volume than usual and the drums sound like they were taken from the creator of Metallica's black album. This is definitely a huge song, it has something addictive and mesmerizing in it and it really feels like Myles is mourning someone close and indeed the song was written about a close friend of the band named Seth Luker.
The next section competed to be the first single from the album but was chosen as the last single, "Native Son" is everything the band's fans love, it has it all and is just pure fun.
As for the next track, we are a bit ambivalent, "Take The Crown" sounds a bit like something unconnected. Here we feel it is made remotely and a bit made up of different parts put together. The lyrics here do kindness to the song and solidify it into one piece.
"Let's take the obvious right now, We'll be victorious"
The track "Indoctrinate" is different and very special in its atmosphere and composition from the rest of the album. It takes some time to internalize it and it does not happen on the first listen, especially in light of its combination between Part A and Part B. The creepy and dramatic opening with Myles' creepy voice that sounds like it is intentionally sneaking makes you paranoid and bewildered (especially with the sitar in the background), but later it develops slowly, dragging and dragging until you get to the jump the song makes for the second part. It's even more chilling when one realizes that Myles wrote the song inspired by a TV series he saw on Netflix about a man who swept many people after him by brainwashing and manipulating them, the song was written from the manipulator's point of view.
The next piece is a beautiful piece that we compare to "Wonderful Life" or "All Ends Well" from previous albums. A kind of powerful and beautiful ballad with uplifting text that makes you want to look for a boat and stand on the tip of the bow like in the Titanic and sing out loud. "It's never too late to start learning how to start leaving right" and believe Myles he knows what he's saying.
The second single from the album "Pay No Mind" which already from the first minute makes you feel the power (synthesizers remember). The structure of the rif is different from anything we knew from Alter Bridge and blends in amazingly with the powerful chorus, the rolling rhythm, and the breaking sections that shatter you to pieces. The text here feels like one of the brainwashed cult participants in the previous song “Indoctrination” as he tries to break into freedom and get out of the cycle of horror but no one really notices.
At the opening of the next track, we ask you to feel, feel it to your fingertips, and then make a strong hard punch. "Forever Falling" is another song in Alter's history in which Mark showcases his singing abilities, the combination of the two is simply fascinating. When Myles enters the chorus you feel like suddenly someone new is singing, not Myles the lead singer who has done the job so far but someone you have not heard until now (we try to be sane but do not always succeed). After Michael was not happy with Myles' result in the verses, Myles offered to let Mark sing and it worked out amazingly. This is one of the gloomiest songs on the album in terms of lyrics.
The next track "Clear Horizon" sounds like it was taken from the previous album "The Last Hero", for us it feels a bit unrelated to this album but it is present, not too exciting but present.
The next track that bears the name of the album is perhaps one of the standout songs on the album. The harmony of Myles and Mark throughout the song creates something new and different here. With the combination of the synth and the heavy riffs, there is something that cannot be defined, something that hovers over everything that happens here. And again the text is so strong here lifts everything up with a strong and glowing aura, what an amazing thing is music !!
In principle, we would tell you to take a moment to pause and internalize what you have heard but this time we urge you to move on. The "Tear Us Apart" track is a natural and understood sequel to the previous section. Myles' voice is so caressing, it has frequencies here that enter you right into the soul in a magical way, no one will separate us now!
The section that closes the album "Dying Light" is a perfect and desirable ending. A kind of summary of everything we've been through so far. A farewell song that takes you with it like a side trip. What an amazing combination of the ensemble, the guitars, the drums, the bass, the synth, and the vocals all crystallize and drain into an amazing and exciting climax. Every other word is unnecessary !!