Over the years Alter Bridge have managed to build up and carve themselves a respectable place in the rock music arena. Formed in 2004 these guys have grafted their way into the hearts of many fans, and even individualistically some of the members have built reputable names for themselves, such as Myles Kennedy who has had the honor and privilege to work with guitar legend Slash on two albums, and guitarist Mark Tremonti, having released a popular guitar DVD. Alter Bridge is thus by all accounts an acclaimed rock band.
“Fortress” is the band’s fourth full-length studio release, and probably the band’s most progressive album to date. This 12 track gem has all the typical Alter Bridge trimmings, but served as a far more mature platter of musical experience. They seem to have moved away from that Creed influence to in some ways, delving deeper into their own a personal identity as an established rock power house. The tilt towards the more progressive leanings is established largely in 3 of the songs moving into the 6 minute zone, of which have extended type intro’s that build up before blasting into the body of the song, and many of the songs are filled with tempo changes with choruses that stare down the nostrils of epic metal. The sound is bigger, as they deliver a larger experience leaving behind the some of those usual expectant rock song compositions in favor of some more complex structures. This is by all standards Alter Bridge’s first true entry into what is fundamentally according to myself their first officially true metal album. This progressive shift in my mind brings the band at their most mature with what I feel is one of their most relevant pieces of work to date.
To be fair the fans of the traditional Alter Bridge sound need not fear, they have not totally hung their cloak on that part of who they are, and songs like, “The Uninvited” and “All Ends Well” reminiscence back to the concrete stylings of the more rock orientated Alter Bridge of the past. “Fortress” is for most parts a progression of that, a building from, instead of on. This is not a re-invention of the band, but rather an articulation, and a shifting of momentum, a shifting of weight derived from what seems a deeper more focused self identity no longer wholly dependent on past influences and other bands. For me this is some of their most original work to date.
I am sure the album will bring out its fare share of critics, especially those whom enjoyed the lighter side of Alter Bridge. This departure could find some fans grabbing hold of a brown paper bag in breathing in and out through it on first gasp of “Fortress”.
Its not on the first listen that you make up your mind with this album, its one of those releases that needs to be listened a few times over to truly be amazed by its undeniable value of which it brings to the music world. It shows a band determined to grow and mature, and putting an effort in bringing something fresh and purposeful to the table as they establish their identity, rather than one infused and cultivated through others. This is Alter Bridge at their purest. This is their introduction into the metal landscape, and I look forward to hearing that change of direction develop and grow and establish itself even further.
The album pace is quickly set in place with the first track, “Cry of Achilles” which blasts with a shredding acoustic intro that soon enough blasts with heavy guitar that moves into a relentless rhythm driving force. The lead single, “Addicted to Pain,” burst forth afterwards and is a throw hammer of the previous track with its driving energy and swings indication as to what one is set to expect from the rest of the album. “Bleed It Dry” one of my favorites on this album, that powers forth again with brutal coolness. Another track I enjoyed is “The Uninvited”, from its seriously processed guitar , to its unique vocal outlay, and its heavy riffage – a cool track indeed. I like fast, so a fast paced tempoed song like “Peace Is Broken” will always go down like a icy cold beer with me. “Calm the Fire” is probably one of the more epic appeal orientated songs on here, and explores the outer reaches of the bands evolving maturity. “Waters Rising” is not the best fit for the album, its not a bad song, just feels a little out of place, its also sang by Mark Tremonti. “Cry a River” sees them back on track again and comes charging off the line right from the drop of the flag. “Farther Than the Stream” explores the more metal side of Alter Bridge, and harks to a-lot of modern metal influences. Another notable title track is the final song and title track “Fortress” which delivers the albums strongest solos. Its a epic composition with some golden moments.
In conclusion I have never paid much attention to Alter Bridge, not saying I have never been a fan of some of their material, but I never really felt the urge to get into their music. My heart on this release has had a revolutionary 180 about that, and to be honest this album from start to finished impressed me a lot, and like I said early, for myself is the truest expression yet of Alter Bridge. I still think Mark Tremonti is over-rated a bit, but you got to give credit where credit is due, and the dudes guitar skills serves the music so well here. He pulls out some amazing shred skills that are truly at times addictive and catchy. So salute! Mark Tremonti for all I say you over-rated, you are a guitar maistro, there is no doubt.
This is Alter Bridges most defining moment, a progressive fortress of musical epicness. A solid release by all accounts.
Written by Donovan de Necker
01. Cry Of Achilles
02. Addicted To Pain
03. Bleed It Dry
05. The Uninvited
06. Peace Is Broken
07. Calm The Fire
08. Waters Rising
09. Farther Than The Sun
10. Cry A River
11. All Ends Well
Myles Kennedy – Vocals, Guitar
Mark Tremonti – Guitar, Vocals
Brian Marshall – Bass
Scott Phillips – Drums
Record Label: EMI Label Services, Oct. 2013
One Day Remains 
AB III 
Video below ‘Addicted To Pain’