Monday, 30 July 2012

Review: Mark Tremonti - All I Was

 When viewing the kind of hateful remarks the people of the internet love to spread about the multi-platinum selling christian rockers, I always view it as a positive thing that it was through listening to Alter Bridge where I discovered the guitar skills of Mark Tremonti as opposed to Creed. I honestly don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything good about Creed and it certainly hasn't encouraged me to dig deep into their back catalogue, but the gripping songwriting and passion that goes into Alter Bridge makes them a band that I would accept with open arms any day. But none of this really has any relation at all to what this album is. Not even the hardest of Alter Bridge's moments could prepare me for Tremonti's first solo outing on All I Was.

 Basically, how it works is that the influences of Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy stretches into dustier, classier blues rock territory, which allows him to record music with Slash and perform Guns N' Roses covers onstage, which is fair enough. His voice has earned him every right. Tremonti on the other hand, clearly spends a lot of time offstage going through Metallica and Anthrax records, as well as maybe making some time for a playing of Killswitch Engage's The End of Heartache.

Such notions can be hinted at purely at the force alone of So You're Afraid, a song that takes adrenaline pumped thrash licks, juxtaposed by sweeping melodies and hooks that allow slabs of riffage to crush into place like falling stones, colliding upon the deep grounds of earth, with Tremonti's solos only serving as the subsequent lightning storms that serve total punishment. It's epic.

 Without letting reminders of past musical ventures get too in the way of the listening experience, it's near mind-boggling to think a performance as thunderous and all-out metal could have come from the guitarist of Creed, or even Alter Bridge. Who knows what the thinking behind this was. You have to think that maybe after performing to sold out stadiums the world over with swaying ballads and tender melodic belters of songs, Tremonti just wanted music to play that would start moshpits. And he makes it possible in every way. The monstrous chugging of Wish You Well and breakdowns of Giving Up would definitely give the likes of Five Finger Death Punch or All That Remains a run for their money in terms of pit sizes were they all to appear at a certain Donnington based festival, while the more frantic melodies of Brains and You Waste Your Time reveal further influences from all kinds of metal bands from Iron Maiden to Dio-era Black Sabbath to Volbeat.

 However, the blues roots of Alter Bridge haven't entirely faded away. As the mellower array of echoey guitar notes that make of the ghostly The Things I've Seen stir into action, listeners are fully allowed to identify just how powerful Tremonti's  vocal performance is, which gives the song a dustier touch of blues-ridden wisdom above all else. Certainly, above all its riff-a-thons, All I Was still upholds a certain tenderness.

 My total admiration for Alter Bridge doesn't make this statement an easy one, but listening to All I Was is almost definitely more of a blast than Blackbird and AB III combined. After hearing the total extent of Mark Tremonti's metal influence come out in a way that allows him to keep his creation of powerful melodies, solid hooks and an earthly layer of blues undertones intact, the music of Alter Bridge just seems so much smaller in comparison. Maybe somewhere within me I hate this album because it does that to Alter Bridge, but let's admit, having played second fiddle in both bands he's been in, Tremonti's chance to shine puts his previous bands to shame. Too bad we've only worked it out now.

Mark Tremonti's All I Was is out now via FRET12.

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