Released: 2016, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
'The Last Hero' marks a welcome return from Alter Bridge, whose last offering 'Fortress' was way back in 2013; admittedly it must be hard for Myles Kennedy (vocals/guitar) to fit recording into the scheme of things when you are also part of Slash's band, and embark on mammoth world tours with both bands which is maybe why this is only album number 5 since the band's inception in 2004. Rising from the ashes of Creed, Mark Tremonti (Guitars/Vocals), Brian Marshall (Bass) and Scott Phillips (Drums) teamed up with Myles Kennedy after they parted ways with Scott Stapp, Kennedy had been playing with The Mayfield Four until they disbanded in 2002, naming the newly formed band after a local bridge on the Alter Road they soon released their debut album 'One Day Remains', not critically successful it was popular with the fans, notching up a gold record status.
Producing the album, Michael 'Elvis' Baskette has worked with the band on every album since 2007's 'Blackbird', a partnership that seems to work well, with Grammy award-winner Ted Jensen providing mastering for this release on Napalm Records. However, it is their live shows and extensive tours that have won them the accolades and fans worldwide.
Firstly its worth noticing that this is a value packed album, 13 tracks equaling a massive 68 minutes of music, with many of the songs being over 5 minutes long, plenty of music for your money. The opening strains of 'Show Me a Leader' will mislead you into thinking this will be a gentle offering, before waking you up with a brutal drum beat and fierce guitar riff, what starts slowly soon becomes a frantic paced protest song, a plea for unity and deliverance, appropriate in these politically uneasy times. Keeping the pace up comes 'The Writing On The Wall', a melodic ballsy lament, with Kennedy's trademark vocals punching through the cacophony of sound to give it a strong resolve. 'The Other Side' is slower, heavier, darker, with oppressive chords and a sinister riff, no cheerful messages of hope but an offering of eternal damnation is promised in this prophecy.
Far more positive comes 'My Champion', a 'pick yourself up and dust your self off ' song that raises the spirits and reminds you that in life there is always someone who seems to take all the knocks life throws at them and they still keep fighting and inspiring people. 'Poison In Your Veins' kicks you up the backside and tells you to make a difference to the world, your life and not be too afraid to take a chance at being all you can be, its passionate and motivating. 'Cradle To The Grave' ticks the epic power ballad box for the album, soulful, moody and showing off the full range of Kennedy's vocal, with a chilling story that should resound in each of us. 'Losing Patience' is passive aggressive, impatient and echoes its message in the feel of the song, you can almost hear sighs of discontent between each verse, With 'This Side Of Fate' we become disenchanted, melancholy, nonchalant even, the song has elements of 'Muse' about it at times, sentimental moments interrupted by agonized choruses drowned in lush rhythms and intense guitars.
'You Will Be Remembered' takes on the role of heart-wrenching, emotional ballad, it pays tribute to all those who stepped up, no matter how small the deed or how large the sacrifice, these are the people who should inspire us, the ones we should thank. It is uplifting and optimistic, about the ordinary everyday heroes that we can look up to, and will never forget. Back to the faster pace for 'Crows On A Wire', a killer track that is bound to impress live, the antonym of the previous song, it reflects those we should despise, the ones who tear you down and tread on your dreams. 'Twilight' gallops along with a sense of desperation, sumptuous layers of guitars that prevent it becoming doom-laden but instead instill a richness that lends hope to the listener. Moving onto 'Island Of Fools', desolate and mournful, holding our heads in our hands and shrugging our shoulders at our own failings, it offers no redemption. As a finale 'The Last Hero' is a last call for a modern day Robin Hood, a present time Che Guevara, with a militaristic drum beat marching through at times, we certainly do need a hero to show us the way just now.
Over all this set of songs is a recipe for a better world/society, it gives us a moral code to follow, ispires and berates in equal measures for what we have allowed to happen in our time. It perfectly encapsulates 2016, with the intolerance that has grown, the need for a hero to show us the way has become more immediate than before. Following the common theme throughout all the songs give the album cohesion and strengthens the message it depicts via the lyrics and the sounds it creates. Heavy yet melodic, sitting on the line between Metal and Heavy Rock this album should reach out to a wide audience. There can be no questioning the musical talent encompassed here, they have graduated with honours with this album and the live tour should really cerment their names in the top alt-rock/metal bands of their time.
Review By Lisa Nash