Not that Alter Bridge has ever had any problem getting exposure, but there's no doubt that there will be more eyes and ears on FORTRESS than past efforts. Based solely on his extremely successful run with Slash, vocalist Myles Kennedy has all but assured a new segment of fans will be listening this time around. For many, that could be both good and bad. It could be a blessing to have a lot of new ears, but it could also be a curse for people looking for an album full of the bluesy swagger that comes out of Slash's six strings. Not that guitarist Mark Tremonti isn't a great guitarist (in fact, based solely on talent, I'd say he's actually better than Slash), but just not Slash. From his days in Creed to his more aggressive times now with Alter Bridge, Tremonti has always had more of a radio ready flavor which has won him a ton of fans and almost no favor amongst fans of harder edged rock and metal. With FORTRESS, this bridge may finally be crossed. New fans and old alike will agree that Alter Bridge may finally have found that edge that was missing.
Tremonti leads this album, plain and simple. His guitar is absolutely smoking on songs like "Addicted To Pain". While Tremonti started down this heavier patch on ABIII, he didn't quite realize it like he has here. Songs like "Cry Of Achilles" are showcases of Tremonti's amazing talent. It starts with a neo-classical intro before blasting off into a very metal-like riff. Songs like "Bleed It Dry" showcase what a truly phenomenal guitarist Tremonti is. The riffs in the song scream of modern metal, and yet the solo in the middle seems ripped from an 80s power metal band. On "Water Rising", Tremonti adds to his dominance on this release by taking the microphone from Kennedy. While he's not the best singer in the world, he holds his own and sounds sort of like Josh Todd from Buckcherry when he's singing in the lower register. This song is brilliant, as he and Kennedy teaming in the choruses just adds something completely new and fresh to the band's sound.
Let's not forget Kennedy here while I act like a lapdog for Tremonti. To be blunt, Myles Kennedy has a sound that you either like or you don't. On FORTRESS, he doesn't do a lot to really stretch his established sound. Nor does he need to. His voice has long been very distinct, and you know right away it's him. His best vocal performance comes on the album's best song, "Calm The Fire". This song finds Kennedy touching on both low and high end vocals that he rarely, if ever, has done before. It's truly great to hear. The song itself is, by far, the most progressive song Alter Bridge has ever done. From start to finish, Kennedy sounds great as always.
PITRIFF RATING - 91/100 - I almost hate giving this album a high rating as it seems I've been writing a lot of albums with scores in the 90s lately. I can't help it...a lot of really, really good releases are being released right now. FORTRESS is definitely one of them. Full of songs that radio will like, but with a far more aggressive groove and sound than ever before, Alter Bridge have created what just might be their best effort yet. Without question, it's worth the purchase. Get it!