It’s been three years since the last Alter Bridge album, The Last Hero, and the need and anticipation for another Alter Bridge masterpiece was so out there. Still, with constant touring of Myles Kennedy with his solo record and Slash and the Conspirators, with Mark’s solo band Tremonti, they found time to work on new material. This time, the guys tried to reinvent themselves in a whole new spectrum while already bringing to the table sometimes nearly finished songs. And even with just a short time in the studio, the result is as amazing as ever. With obviously getting out of the safe waters onto a bit more unknown roads, the band matured and it’s safe to say that their latest work, Walk the Sky, will crawl under your skin with every tone.
Even though with the release of the first singles you could see and hear mixed emotions all over the internet, no one should be even remotely close to disappointment. Yes, it’s different, it’s new, but it’s a progress to bigger greatness and not a regression. I was looking forward very much to this new synth vibe and hearing it play out with the classic Alter Bridge style. Especially since their approach to the writing process was different than the last times and they brought nearly finished songs to the table just to put them magically together. With keyboards on top of it all even to level up the already absolutely amazing rhythmic section.
The album is not a concept one, even though a theme is visible throughout the whole album. It has this kind of liberating vibe, zen moments even, yet with few songs that are darker than the rest. So, in this sense, it really is a light to ABIII dark. The album even starts with just one-and-a-half-minute long song One Life, going easy on vocals of Myles Kennedy, having this exact calming vibe that I rather enjoy at the beginning. And then nicely bursting out to heavy Wouldn’t You Rather with this epic riff that is a product of a bit of frustration as Myles has mentioned in a couple of interviews. Following In The Deep is again brushing along this calming vibe, even though the music itself is nothing close to slow or quiet. But as always, Alter Bridge aimed lyrically big and this album is another proof of how lyrics and music can come together to create great things. And honestly, I do not know a band that can write such powerful and uplifting songs that speak right to your core.
Have to say that even the synth vibe being present throughout the whole album I was not expecting a song like Godspeed. This one had the most synth elements from all, slightly touching the pop side of it all even. But already with the next couple of songs, we are on the road of what we know with Native Son and Take The Crown. And yet they are new, the melody is not repeating, riffs do not sound familiar. Plus the second of those two has in my opinion at the beginning one of the most interesting riffs from all the songs of the album.
The one song that totally blew my mind must be without doubt Indoctrination. And when I realized that the sound at the beginning which seems to be a guitar is actually Myles doing wonders with his voice, that’s when my mouth literally hit the floor. I know and witnessed what this guy can do with his voice, the high note in Words Darker Than Their Wings is legendary. But this was a completely new dimension that I have never heard him go in before. Hats down on this one for sure. Lyrically this song is one of the darker ones and it all fits absolutely perfectly with the melody and the scream in the beginning. It has grasped my attention on the first listen and for sure I will continue to find new gems lurking behind the many layers of the song.
It’s also pretty nice how they put together the whole album and the order of the songs. They have intertwined calmer ones with songs based on heavy riffs. The Bitter End is again an example of a song with a calming vibe, while Pay No Mind is based on interesting riff with visible synth elements and great rhythm section. Still, the most anticipated song of all must be for sure Forever Falling.
Ever since the word came out that Mark will have lead vocals on one of the songs of the album, I was beaming with excitement. And then Forever Falling came and I could not believe how great this guitar mage progressed with his singing voice. Water Rising is for sure an epic song and it’s no wonder that it has its place in the live show setlist for years. But I would not be surprised if Forever Falling would soon replace this one. The falsetto at the beginning of the song is the one that gives me goosebumps and the chorus that Myles is taking over is absolutely catchy. It’s no secret that when the mindsets of the Alter Bridge guys combine great things come out. But the combination of Myles’ and Mark’s voice is again something phenomenal.
Clear Horizon has for sure one of the most interesting beginnings. Myles’ singing voice is especially calming, he’s nearly whispering the few first verses and then the song slides nicely into its heavier parts with catchy chorus with backing vocals. With Walking on the Sky there is no wonder why the guys picked exactly this one song to name the whole album after. In my opinion, it underlines nicely the theme that is visible throughout the whole album, not just lyrically but also with melody and the feel that the song gives. And as Myles sings “Do you feel alive” directly into your ears, it travels so deeply that one has just the urge to answer, “Oh hell yes!”.
The second last song of the album Tear Us Apart underlines perfectly the rest of the album. It does stand out for an obvious reason, the message is powerful and the guitars, together with Myles’ voice are just something to absolutely cherish. But for me, the absolute cherry on the top is the very last song of the album, Dying Light. It is an understatement to say that it was a surprise when this song came out before the official release of the album as the fifth one to tease the fans. Who knows what made the guys do it, but this is just the perfect classic Alter Bridge that everyone was waiting for. The haunting chorus, the epic bridge with something that made me instantly think of Rammstein. I would be surprised if this one did not make it to the setlist for live shows, but as it happens, sometimes the most epic songs are not to be played live. But I am already wondering how perfectly it would sound with strings again behind the guys. Well maybe in the future we will see a remake of Royal Albert Hall, as I think that some of the inspiration for the new album might have come from this experience as well.
Walk the Sky is for sure on my list and on repeat for weeks to come. Especially since with every listen you can just find there something that you have not heard at first. That’s just what I love about Alter Bridge. And with the promise the guys made, to be on tour of the whole next year, I cannot wait to hear this masterpiece live.