LOUDWIRE | Chad Childers
It's been quite a year for Alter Bridge's principal members. Earlier this year, Myles Kennedy made great artistic and stylistic strides with his deeply personal Year of the Tiger. Now his bandmate Mark Tremonti is flexing his artistic muscle with his self-titled band's first ever concept album, A Dying Machine.
Like Kennedy, Tremonti pushed the boundaries a bit from what we've come to expect from him; since adding his self-titled band to his growing resume, fans have become used to Tremonti leaning towards the guitarist's heavier tendencies, but A Dying Machine offers the band's most well-rounded record to date. It's also their best.
Fans of Tremonti's previous work will not be disappointed: full throttle crushers like "Throw Them to the Lions," the dynamic and heavy opener "Bringer of War," the more vocally aggressive "A Lot Like Sin" and the thrashy, pit-ready "The Day When Legions Burned" should more than appease the desire for heaviness. But there are also moments of muted instrumentation in "Trust" and "Make It Hurt." Acoustic guitars get significant play throughout the album, and there is also space for more somber, mid-tempo and bluesier fare like "As the Silence Becomes Me" and "Desolation."
The real strength of the album comes in Tremonti's knack for melodically strong anthems. "Take You With Me" is already getting radio play, and "The First The Last" may have some legs with potential to be an even bigger single if given a shot. The title track finds the perfect blend of melodic and aggressive and "From the Sky" boasts Rage Against the Machine-esque guitar aggression.
As a top-to-bottom listen, A Dying Machine flows well with no duds and will likely rank as one of 2018's best rock albums. But if there is a criticism, it is that the shifts in the narrative can be a bit jarring for those trying to piece together the story, with successive tracks sometimes going from a dark and dystopian viewpoint to something more uplifting and lighter, suggesting different viewpoints or characters. Tremonti is preparing an accompanying book which will likely fill in the blanks and connect the dots, but until then A Dying Machine lays enough of the seeds to intrigue. It's a great listen from a musical perspective and one that will be enhanced when fans are able to dig into the book.