Alter Bridge are no strangers to heroics having lent their music to superhero films The Fantastic Four and Electra, but this album goes beyond the spandex wearing, cape flapping comic characters. For their fifth album, the band have conceptualised heroism to include, not only an ideal, but what it means to be human and what it takes to be a real hero. In many ways, it reads exactly like a character arc for one of our favourite crime fighting pin-ups, but they do say 'with great power comes great responsibility' – so it would be only natural to explore that in the aptly titled The last Hero.
Their critically acclaimed Fortress set a stupidly high bar for the band's material, so with a mission to go further than before, this time, the band have gone stratospheric. Opting for alternative tuning, seven stringed guitars and less improvisation, the band create a stronger, more honed sound which is mixed with flourishing melodies, full fat choruses and musical arrangements on an epic level. From the opening desperation of the politically charged Show Me The Leader, the band's frustration with the state of the world is apparent. The percussion is brutally fearless, the guitars are desperately frantic and Myles Kennedy's soaring high tenor belt simply demolishes the wall of sound behind him like vocal vibranium.
The Writing On The Wall (no not that irksome version) quickly follows with more metallic pounding and classic rock bellowing. Once again demonstrating his breathtaking vocal abilities, Kennedy pays heed to his younger self, in the inspirational My Champion. Twilight and the equally melodious This Side Of Fate continue the breathtaking passion that imbues this terrific album.
The melodies alternate between the downright rocky and operatic in scale, but none more so than the epic titular track. It's sharp, cinematic and theatrical. It exudes greatness on every level and contains all the flag waving components of a beefy, stomping rock opera opus; it's elegant, rousing and a courageous track for a band on top of their game.
If rock music was ever in need of some new heroes it was now; Alter Bridge are more than prepared to suit up and save the day.
Groupie Rating 5/5