Alter Bridge: One Day Remains
Label: Wind Up
Sound/Style: Forceful and weighty guitar-based rock
By Steve Morley
(UMCom) -- Pop quiz time, class. Make that pop/rock quiz time. Alter Bridge is a new band - is this statement true or false? Those of you who have been paying attention know this is a trick question. True, Alter Bridge is a new band in that One Day Remains is their first album under that name. Essentially, though, this is chapter two in the saga of Creed, the platinum-selling rock group that was known for their semi-overt Christian stance in the secular music world. The question most likely on the lips of those who know is - how do Alter Bridge compare to Creed? For a band that changed only one member, the differences surprisingly outweigh the similarities.
Creed’s resident composer Mark Tremonti has stepped up as the band’s primary lyricist, joined by new vocalist and co-writer Myles Kennedy. Kennedy’s impressive range and agility allow him to belt out lower-register vocals like ex-Creed frontman Scott Stapp, but Kennedy’s more elastic voice cuts more distinctively and creatively through the guitar din. This, along with numerous songs that venture into territory more melodic and less formulaic than Tremonti’s oft-droning prior work, provides a welcome change from the brooding, amorphous roar that dominated Creed’s trio of records. That said, the combined guitar attack - though less blunt and bludgeon-like than Creed’s - could still lay Granny’s rocker flat against the carpeting. Mid-tempos dominate in styles both grinding and slow building, though the thrashing "Metalingus" steps the pace up considerably. While the guitar tones and musical style are unquestionably modern, they smack slightly of heavy metal, invoking riff-rich hard-rockers like Black Sabbath and Metallica. On guitar, Tremonti offers more soft-and-loud contrasts and shows more technique and invention. He plays a succinct and potent solo on "Down To My Last," unspools exotic, latter-day Led Zep phrases on "Watch Your Words" and "The End Is Here" and weaves a wormy thread of darting, low-stringed notes through the slamming chords of the title track.
The lyrics revolve around mixed and sometimes desperate sentiments dealing with inner combat and spiritual limbo, perhaps a calculated move designed to connect with fence-straddling listeners. "I’m drowning and I’m sick inside," goes the lyric of "Watch Your Words," while "Shed My Skin" depicts a person lost in the midst of confusing change which isn’t defined as good or bad: "a bitter, sinking feeling/awake to the fact that there’s no going back to the world in which I was living." The disc’s blistering first cut, "Find The Real," sets the tone for this disorientation with its opening line "stuck in the middle, I burrow inside."
While the record features little of the uplifting quality present on Creed’s Human Clay CD, it contains moments of conviction. "I’ll never long for what might have been/regret won’t waste my life again," is one of the disc’s most powerful first person statements, while the battle cry "don’t lay down and die - you need to know how it feels to be alive" goes out to the band’s audience. What seems most fitting, given the fairly veiled faith references on One Day Remains, is the band’s abandonment of the name Creed. A creed is a straightforward statement of one’s beliefs, and no such declaration appears here. As Alter Bridge, though, they may indeed pave the way for the lost and floundering by meeting them on their side of the shore.
Steve Morley is a free-lance music journalist living in College Grove, Tenn.