Album Review: Alter Bridge, “Walk the Sky”

It didn’t take very long for Alter Bridge to shake off the perception that they were a new iteration of Creed. Since their debut, they’ve created a sound and a vibe that is wholly their own. Walk the Sky is their sixth studio album, and while some fans are calling it a departure from their darker, more brooding sounds of the past, the album still maintains the character that made this act one of the most compelling groups in modern hard rock. And for the more adventurous listener, there are enough sonic excursions to make this album feel fresh and interesting.

“Wouldn’t You Rather” features some stellar guitar work, as well as a highly memorable chorus that won’t leave your head for weeks.

In a scene that can garner a reputation for melancholy lyrics or morose themes, “In the Deep” is an upbeat, hard rock love song with big riffs and melodies. Of particular note is the clever use of major-minor in the chorus.

While Alter Bridge is a band that is made up of seasoned music veterans that all make strong, solid music statements, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Myles Kennedy continues to shine on this album as a compelling, powerful frontman. His voice has often drawn comparisons to Chris Cornell, but I also hear Ritchie Kotzen and even, dare I say, Ronnie James Dio at times. Kennedy’s strong, dynamic vocal work has been recognized by fans and critics alike, and don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say he has one of the best voices in modern metal.

The guitar tone is one of my favorite parts of Alter Bridge. Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy manage to find a perfect balance between polish and chunk, and the solos throughout the record are refined and focused, but also pretty wild and kickass. I’ve always been a fan of dual-leads ever since first hearing how well Chris DeGarmo’s solid chords and riffs supported Michael Wilton’s soloing in Queensryche, and I think the complimentary guitar work always been one of Alter Bridge’s greatest strengths. Walk the Sky has several Wilton-DeGarmo-esque moments, with one guitarist providing the sonic textures that allow the other guitarist to shine (the solo in “Wouldn’t You Rather” being a prime example). Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips form a consistently solid rhythm section, with subtly intricate parts that support the melody rather than detract.

While Walk the Sky could be seen as a slight departure from their earlier and darker material, they never abandon their trademark clever songwriting or memorable hooks. And while I have often found myself veering towards more abstract and progressive music as a general practice a good song is a good song no matter how simple or complex, and this record is full of solidly written, occasionally ingenious hard rock songs.

Alter Bridge’s Walk the Sky was released on October 18th, 2019 through Napalm Records. Buy it here.

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