'The Last Hero': Track-by-Track Review Countdown

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'The Last Hero': Track-by-Track Review Countdown

Postby TABN Admin » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:41 pm

The Last Hero: Song-By-Song Rundown
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Show Me A Leader

Over the next 13 days we will be diving deeper into each song on The Last Hero. Today we begin with the opening track, "Show Me a Leader". As the lead single on the album, Alter Bridge fans are surely well-acquainted with the song by now. It starts with the foreboding sound of Myles delicately plinking a series of clean notes on his electric guitar. The depth of Mark's 7-string catapults us into a bombastic series of chords that declare we are here, so listen up because we have something to say. This opening salvo is layered with the tortuous bends of Myles's lead guitar, the deafening rumble of Brian's bass, and an impressive array of drum patterns from Scott's kit, all of which give us a taste of the instrumental prowess we can expect on this album.

The verse settles into an uptempo groove, the latter half featuring a series of defiant "no" chants that will provide great audience participation when played live. The chorus hits hard with a series of offbeat blows and an unsettling pause. The lyrics after which the song were named demand someone to save us from the current political circus that has torn us apart. "Show Me a Leader" perfectly establishes the tone for the rest of The Last Hero, one of a world gone to hell, but challenging us to fight back.

Highlights:
  • Top-notch drumming and guitar leads during the intro
  • Singalong "no" sections
  • The chorus's unique rhythm

Standout lyric:
"Disillusioned and tired of waiting for the one
Whose intentions are pure, unpersuaded, we can trust"


Select TABN admin opinions:
Ashlee wrote:This is the perfect welcome back for Alter Bridge. The overarching theme of this song, especially coming off of Fortress is hopeful and bright. 8/10
Ryan wrote:Show Me A Leader is a great album kick off track. It definitely has grown on me and I dig it more with each listen. I love the way the intro builds the song, and subsequently the album up. While some may feel my rating is low, I only rated it lower because I have other tracks that are favorites over this one, so I had to rate this one lower to leave room for others. Rating: 7.5/10.

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Average rating: 8/10
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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:15 pm

The Writing On The Wall

"The Writing On The Wall" keeps up the pace set by "Show Me A Leader", starting out with a chugging, marching riff. The song is classic Alter Bridge; heavy and fast guitars (think Metallica meets Tremonti), but with that strong melodic approach only our boys can deliver. Myles carries the melody in the chorus with his lofty vocals, and Mark's harmonies show how he has progressed as a singer with his time fronting Tremonti.

This song is a fusion of "classic" Alter Bridge (One Day Remains/Blackbird) and "new" Alter Bridge (Fortress). The chorus is catchy and memorable. Brian’s bass lines prominently elevate the heavy guitar riffs and sit beautifully with Flip’s drumming to create a backbone for the song.

Lyrically "The Writing on the Wall" is perhaps the most issue-specific, inspired by the refusal of many to accept the responsibility of anthropogenic climate change. While the broaching of such a hot-button topic may not sit well with some fans, it fits perfectly with the underlying theme of a world teetering on the edge of disaster and revival.

Highlights:
  • Mark’s backing vocals
  • The dirty, guttural, and mean guitars
  • The bell tolling the background
  • "Thunderstruck"-style leads during the bridge and outro

Standout lyric:
“And the writing’s on the wall that the end will begin
Still you do nothing at all, and keep denying the greatest sin”


Select TABN admin opinions:
axlar wrote:This song starts off straight in your face with a marching like rhythm, backed up with a long note by Myles which almost feels haunting. To me this song presents some classic AB vibe which is taken to a next level by the more pronounced rhythm sections. Rating: 9/10
Jared wrote:This song took awhile to grow on me but it quickly became one of my favorite choruses on The Last Hero. The guys continue to impress me with their killer dynamics & overall creativity with riffs. The bridge is super dark & the solo is just one of many that are a step up for the band. Rating: 8/10

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:21 pm

The Other Side

"The Other Side" brings us down from the fast-paced one-two punch of "Show Me A Leader" and "The Writing On The Wall". It starts out with a haunting, echoed vocal that would be right at home on AB III. This leads into a nasty, chugging riff, setting up a dark and heavy verse. Myles's breathy, atmospheric vocals give the song a very creepy feel: “Time for you to meet you maker, playing God tonight.”

The lyrics address the very dark subject of religious extremism and zealotry which, at their worst, have caused incredible suffering around the world in recent years. This song feels the music was written to fit the lyrics, rather than the other way around. From start to finish, "The Other Side" has a cohesive flow; it feels much less like individual musical parts joined together to make a song.

The chorus is melodic, but unlike many Alter Bridge songs that have uplifting choruses, this one maintains the heavy feel of the lyrical content. Brian’s bass shines in this track with the slow, heavy guitar riffs to give the listeners a feeling that they’re on a path of impending doom. This is especially noticeable in the bridge, which feels like it fits perfectly in a horror movie setting. There is no guitar solo and that's okay; the mood of this song doesn't really necessitate a solo and it would likely feel out of place.

Highlights:
  • Dark, heavy riffs
  • Weighty lyrical subject
  • Atmospheric, delicate vocals from Myles

Standout lyric:
“You think that Heaven’s gates are waiting, but only Hell will come.
You’re insane, have you gone too far? Who’s to blame, for what you are?”


Select TABN admin opinions:
Jared wrote:This is (in my opinion) the darkest song that the guys have ever written.. not just musically but lyrically. The main riff is super heavy / head-bang worthy and as the song progresses it gets even more dark & haunting going into the bridge. Definitely one of my favorites. "There will be no paradise." Rating: 9/10
Jim wrote: Lyrically one of my favourite cuts from this record. It's written in a manner that allows Myles to perform the words in a way reminiscent of early Alter Bridge. The chord choices in the chorus give me goosebumps, the theme is aggressive & the rhythm section is absolutely brutal. The pace of the song is exactly what is needed amongst an album full of fast paced, 'riffy' songs. Love it, rate it highly! Rating: 8/10

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:21 pm

My Champion

"My Champion" feels perfect as a follow-up track to "The Other Side." It brings the listener back up and fills them with hope after the sinister mood established in "The Other Side." Its message is pure and simple, encouraging the subject to "keep fighting and get back up again." The song's inspiring theme is perfect for sporting events; in fact, the NFL has already used it during Monday Night Football, and TABN member gbruin heard the track between the action during his son’s ice hockey game. It will undoubtedly pop up even more once the album drops. Furthermore, these inspiring lyrics would lend the song perfectly to One Day Remains.

Musically, "My Champion" has a bit of a 1980s feel to it, reminding many of us of Journey. Mark’s backing vocals are perhaps The Last Hero's most prominent, forming a perfect duet with Myles's leads. His guitar solo is restrained and vocal in nature—a perfect fit for the rest of the music. The drumming and bass tracks are straightforward, serving to maintain a steady groove. It’s a straightforward, anthemic rock song. Some fans are disinterested in the simplicity of this song's melody and lyrical content, but it is a welcome bright spot on an otherwise dark album.

Highlights:
  • Mark's backing vocals in the chorus
  • Flip's drumming in the pre-chorus define the pocket
  • Bespoke guitar solo

Standout lyric:
"You've lost so many times it hurts, but failures made are lessons learned
'Cause in the end what you are will be much more than you were"


Select TABN admin opinions:
Ryan wrote:"My Champion" is a good song. I think it seems to get knocked down because it’s in the context of The Last Hero album. Take it out and let it stand on its own and really listen to the music, with its anthemic feel and positive lyrics, and you’ll find it really is a good song. It’s not my favorite of theirs, but that’s subjective. I rate it as a 7/10 since it’s in the context it’s in. I simply like more songs on this record and tend to go for the harder rockers, e.g. "Crows On A Wire", "Find The Real" (One Day Remains), "Buried Alive" (Blackbird), "Coeur d’Alene" (AB III) etc…” Rating: 8/10
axlar wrote:This is a very uplifting song, which feels even more uplifting because it follows the dark "The Other Side", which helps lift this song.v I can imagine this song doing good on USA radio and with the section of Alter Bridge fans who still have sentiments for Creed. I think "My Champion" will do well in concerts because of the anthem potential it holds. For me, it might even compete with "Open Your Eyes", if it wouldn't have the 'first Alter Bridge single ever' sentiment connected to it.
"My Champion" is an uplifting anthemic song, though personally, I prefer the heavier darker songs on this album, which seem to have an effect on my rating for this song: 7/10

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:22 pm

Poison in Your Veins

Following the spirited "My Champion", "Poison in Your Veins" quickly picks the pace back up. The intro, barreling head-on into a slithering guitar riff and a swaggering bass line, prepares us for the rock to come. The verse settles into a sleazy groove, sustained by a distorted, stuttering tremolo effect on the guitar, and culminating in a demonic phaser sound. This song has one of the album's catchiest choruses, featuring so many vocal layers that one could argue over which is the lead versus the harmony. Its lyrics encourage us to channel our disillusionment and angst into fighting for a better world.

This song pays aural homage to the rambunctious, unruly days of 1980s hair metal. The bridge is hard-hitting, and precedes a swashbuckling guitar solo that proves Mark can still let loose despite his advanced technical prowess. Whether you call it rock, metal, or whatever else, fans will undoubtedly enjoy headbanging and singing along with the chorus. "Poison in Your Veins" will bring down an entire arena with the right crowd. It may not be The Last Hero's most sophisticated song, but it's one of its most fun.


Highlights:
  • Brian's bass dives during the intro
  • Catchy melody throughout
  • Playful attitude

Standout lyric:
"You wasted all your precious time
You were too afraid to dream"


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abw1987 wrote:This is one of those songs I just can't wait to hear live. It's simple enough that the band can have fun playing it, it's catchy as hell, and the guitar solo will surely fire up an audience. Alter Bridge might be known for their deeper cuts like "Blackbird", but this livelier side of the band is just as important. Rating: 9/10
Ashlee wrote:I live for that bendy guitar sound in the beginning and right before each chorus. It’s a newer element from the band. The song is a lot more hopeful than the title might let on. I’m going to say it, an updated, edgier Before Tomorrow Comes. 8/10

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:22 pm

Cradle to the Grave

"Cradle to the Grave" begins with a beautifully patient, clean guitar progression that some may compare to what we'd hear on Blackbird in songs like "Brand New Start" and "Wayward One". This immediately sets the pace for what could be a fan favourite from The Last Hero, especially if you'd like a break from the riff-riddled madness that Alter Bridge have produced this time around. The intro culminates in a series of anguished power chords that will later resurface during the chorus, almost rivaling the main riff of "Blackbird" itself in their agony. As the verse leads in, we are introduced to something very special indeed, a cleanly picked guitar line that matches the vocal melody so perfectly and so gently you feel every word. We believe many fans will hail Myles's vocal performance as one of his crowning pieces on the album.

Inspired by the death of Myles's mother-in-law, the lyrics cry out in desperate confrontation of the reality that life is finite and our loved ones won't be around forever. The bridge picks up for a moment of urgency before Myles reflects once more, "as time keeps marching on / all we have is lost." This tees up Mark's tormented guitar solo, which channels his earlier work with Alter Bridge while still displaying the virtuosic skills to which we have all become so accustomed. The rhythm section are as solid as ever; the song keeps a steady and powerful pace throughout. Brian and Flip deliver a monumental and driving force from the back, allowing the melodies and musical wizardry of Mark and Myles to shine through.

Highlights:
  • Story telling lyrics
  • Classic Myles vocal tone
  • Possibly Mark's best solo on the record

Standout lyric:
"Who will be my hiding place
When you're gone?"


Select TABN admin opinions:
Jim wrote:My favourite song on the album, by a mile. The pace of the song reminds me of One Day Remains (album), by which I mean it's a beautiful tempo that allows the song constant time to breathe. When you're listening to this song, you never want it to end.
10/10
abw1987 wrote:From the waltz between the vocals and guitar during the verse to the keenly bespoke bridge, this is one of those songs that flows perfectly from start to finish. Mark offers one of his most tortured guitar solos ever, reminding me a bit of his leads in "Wayward One" and "Fortress". Be sure to pay attention to Brian's bass lines here—they are subtle but hugely intense. This is a 10/10 Alter Bridge track for me.

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:22 pm

Losing Patience

"Losing Patience" starts off almost like an industrial rock song with a droning guitar riff that sounds like you're being attacked by a swarm of bees. The same riff holds the entire track together as it repeats at various points throughout. And for good reason—this is one of those segments that could get an entire festival crowd jumping in unison. Flip mixes up his drumming with a full-time rhythm switching to half-time for the latter portion of the intro. This leads into the verse, the first half of which is solemn and restrained. Here Myles delivers a tender vocal performance with a haunting reverb effect. The second half of the verse is elevated by a recurrence of that unsettling beehive riff. Inspired by the period of Myles's life following the Mayfield Four era, this song challenges us to press on in the face of continued adversity.

The chorus features a relatively cheerful melody and an infectious backing vocalization reminiscent of a Van Halen song or even Trivium's "Silence in the Snow". If you listen closely, you can hear some high-pitched beeping tones in the background, possibly the result of guitar trickery but more likely produced by a synthesizer. The bridge establishes a steady headbanger rhythm reminiscent of that in "Metalingus", though with a tad more instrumental flare. After the final chorus that same swarming sound takes the song to its conclusion.

Highlights:
  • One of those riffs to which you can't help but throw up the horns and bang your head
  • Rock-solid drumming and bass work

Standout lyric:
“If you choose to wallow in these sorrows, what will be the cost?”

Select TABN admin opinions:
Jim wrote:Losing Patience, to me, is a proper Alter Bridge song. A song that covers all bases and would fit perfectly on Blackbird, ABIII or Fortress. It's busy but has a beautifully open melody. The guitar work and riff writing in it is classic and works so simply, I love this song. 7/10
abw1987 wrote:This song is really in-your-face, and just gets under your skin in a way that you can't help but move to the rhythm. The riff kind of sounds like the first few notes of "White Knuckles", and it should come off really well live. And the chorus is a total earworm. I like this song more than I thought I would. 8/10

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:23 pm

This Side of Fate

When asked whether The Last Hero contained any "Blackbird"-style epics, Alter Bridge pointed to "This Side of Fate" as one example. At almost 7 minutes long, it's easy to see why. However length alone does not an epic make. The term is perhaps overused, but what it really refers to is a song that takes you on a journey. With "This Side of Fate", it's clear that the word applies without caveat.

The track opens with a clean picked guitar reminiscent of "Words Darker Than Their Wings". Lightly overdriven notes swell on top, setting the bleak and aching mood. This plunges into an intense, heavy section layered with descending power chords and synthesized strings. The song pauses for a measure before entering the verse, starting stripped back with clean guitar and vocals alone. Myles sings a melody matching the chord progression, similar to "Cradle to the Grave". Many words are held through multiple notes, as if passing over waves on the ocean. Critics of layered vocals will be pleased to find a lone Myles throughout much of this song, letting his voice stand out on its own.

Once the drums reenter, the verse takes on a feel similar to that of "Waters Rising" or Creed's "Time". A nonstandard time signature keeps things interesting, and the stanzas don't follow the typical four-line cadence. This flows naturally into the chorus, which serves as a heavier extension of the verse with a harmonized melody moving into the main vocal position. Mark's backing vocals feature prominently in the chorus as well, accented by more synthesized strings.

By the end of the second verse and chorus, it's already apparent that this is no generic rock composition. At this point we enter the meat of the epic with a marching guitar sequence held together by a complex bass pattern. Myles sings longingly, "what have we done? / There's nowhere to run." This crescendos into a massive breakdown that sounds like Alter Bridge had a baby with Muse. In the background we can hear similar synthesized beeps to those in "Losing Patience".

After this climax we are quickly dropped into a fragile interlude like the one in "Bleed it Dry", showcasing Myles's silken voice over restrained guitar chords. This blasts back into the heaviness, leading directly into the first guitar solo. Here Myles puts his chops firmly on display with an impressive run up the neck right out of the gate. This culminates in another quiet section before diving into the final chorus, accompanied by a hugely impactful negative key change. Finally Mark takes us home with another guitar solo. Rather than gratuitous shredding, he gives us an incredibly heartfelt, vocally-styled succession of leads. He finishes with layered notes on the higher strings which create momentary, fleeing chords that seem to give us glimmers of hope.

As you can tell, "This Side of Fate" is a highly dynamic track with many ups and downs. One could even describe it as "Words Darker Than Their Wings" meets "Fortress". Myles has mentioned that he considers it part of a three-song trilogy, starting with "Show Me a Leader" and ending with "The Last Hero". Taken in this context, the lyrics—about coming to terms with the consequences of the choices you've made—make perfect sense. This is a representative track for Alter Bridge, and it is well worth the many listens it takes to fully absorb its beauty.

Highlights:
  • Dynamic production - less of a busy "wall of sound" than the rest of the album
  • Two gorgeous guitar solos, including one of Myles's best to date
  • Myles's velvety vocal performance

Standout lyric:
"For all that we’ve done
Will we ever choose to see the fault of our own?
This fate we must receive"


Select TABN admin opinions:
Marcos wrote:Did you ever wonder what would happen if Alter Bridge and Muse got married and had a child? Well, this is it. It's a 6 minute song, so don't let the "Words Darker Than Your Wings" beginning fool you. Around the 2:30 minute mark, this child hits puberty in the right way and it's so epic I can't describe it in depth. Just epic! (Haters: Myles already mentioned in interviews how fond he is of Muse, so it's a nice nod to them.) 10/10
Ashlee wrote:This is the masterpiece of this album. Lyrically superb. Musically gifted and dare I say perfect. I don’t like to compare AB to anyone, but I think this has a Muse like sound. I would have liked more Mark backing vox, and less Myles layers, but I can’t be mad. The Myles solo toward the middle is possibly one of his best. 9/10

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:23 pm

You Will Be Remembered

The clean-picked notes that open "You Will Be Remembered" set the stage for The Last Hero's ballad in the style of Daughtry's "Home" or Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn". While not a particularly complex song, it serves as a moving tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for their country or their fellow mankind. The lyrics are straightforward, as Myles sings directly to these heroes in an expression of personal gratitude. There is always an element of cheesiness when a song references itself—this one starts with, "I wrote these words to tell you all the things I should’ve said so long ago"—but in this case it iis refreshingly honest.

Myles's voice shines as the verse slowly builds; first we are joined by fuzzy guitars, then bass, then drums. A moving pre-chorus tees up an undeniably catchy chorus with an uplifting, singalong-style melody. Brian's bass work lays a clever yet solid foundation throughout. The bridge has a powerful, I-need-to-tell-you-this-before-it's-too-late vibe. After the final chorus, Mark caps things off with a tasteful solo, sounding a bit like Joe Satriani guest soloing on power ballad. Ultimately "You Will Be Remembered" accomplishes its goal of memorial without leaving much to interpretation.

Highlights:
  • Perfect example of Alter Bridge's ability to steadily build an emotion
  • Brian delivers a rock solid bass line
  • Each drum beat drives the music perfectly

Standout lyric:
"I know how much you sacrificed
And all of this you did so selflessly"


Select TABN admin opinions:
Ashlee wrote:Mark backing vocals! Myles at his best! I just love a lovely tune belted out by Myles. The song has a great message, and I love when it breaks down at the end and Myles hits the higher note. It’s super simple, but really showcases the vocals and the band’s talent for creatively allowing a song to progress. 8/10
Marcos wrote:This is a tribute to all the freedom fighters out there, the true heroes of our day and age. The ones who don't look for the spotlight. Despite so many heated and polemic discussions in our present time, it's a very upbeat and heart warming song. Very thoughtful, mad respect for AB delivering it the way they did. 7/10

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:23 pm

Crows on a Wire

"Crows on a Wire" commences with a mammoth set of loose power chords, riffs, and drum hits whose sole purpose are to wind us up. Then like a hypernova, the intro kicks into gear with one of Mark's chuggiest, crunchiest riffs ever. The heaviness pours into the verse as Myles begins to belt out the opening words with crystal clarity. Lyrically the song cautions aspiring leaders and stars about society's relentless tendency to tear apart its public figures.

The verse ends in a moment of subdued immanence, the eye of this sonic hurricane. An ascending lead plays unsettlingly against a descending chord progression as the rhythm section gears up for the chorus. The song resolves into a catchy, "Isolation"-style chorus as Myles showcases his vocal range. Between lines, the guitars harass us with a quick run up the bottom strings.

The chorus dumps us right back into the verse, and we do it all again. After the second chorus, the song revisits the intro before reaching the solo. Myles lays down an impressive lead, a bit like Alice in Chains but shreddier; his fingers fly across the neck with silky smoothness. Then we are treated to a standout bridge, offering a stirring melody and beautiful harmonies from Mark. The final choruses provide a solid ending with Myles singing a perfectly complementary backing vocal.

In interviews Mark has described how producer Elvis Baskette tried to talk the band out of recording "Crows on a Wire", thinking it might sound too close to Mark's solo band, Tremonti. Boy are we glad the guys pushed back, because this is collectively our favorite track on The Last Hero. It's a top-tier Alter Bridge song—equally heavy and catchy, it's a straightforward banger with the right amount of complexity to be interesting.

Highlights:
  • A pure exposition of beastly riffs
  • Commanding lead vocals
  • Perfect drum work

Standout lyric:
"There will come a time when all they give they will steal
The love you think you will find, know that none of it's real"


Select TABN admin opinions:
Jim wrote:This was the song I was most anticipating, and it has not disappointed! It's heavy and fast but melodic and soars high in the most beautiful moments. The chorus has one of the most interesting vocal choices on the record and Myles pulls of possibly his trickiest solo ever! This song is a monster, it fits perfectly with the record and look out for those beastly verses! What a song! 9/10
Ryan wrote:This is definitely my favorite song on the whole record. It starts out with a chunky riff, complete with a few pinch harmonics. Flip hits the bass drum and cymbals in time with the guitar strumming. Myles comes in with attitude behind his vocals that match the lyrics perfectly. "If you want to step into the lights, well I'm warning you: be wise, nothing goes unnoticed." Myles plays a nice solo about 2/3rds of the way through. Blast this one and rock out! "'Cause they're waiting just like crows on a wire, they pry and conspire, that's all they do!" Rating: 10/10.

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:23 pm

Twilight

Beginning with lightly-overdriven strumming reminiscent of a Mayfield Four song, "Twilight" quickly ramps up as more guitar layers and drumming are added into the mix. The main riff kicks off into a major-heavy chord progression reminiscent of "Break Me Down", but don't be deterred by this comparison to one of Alter Bridge's most underappreciated songs. This track showcases the breadth of Alter Bridge's musical style.

The music sets a curiously optimistic mood against the decidedly bleak lyrics. They describe a society divided, teetering on darkness, succumbing to the consequences of its own mistakes. The chorus is upbeat, almost as if Myles has accepted his fate while looking out at a world crumbling around him. The bridge takes on a more urgent feel before a standout guitar solo. The highlight of the song, Mark delivers a lengthy set of leads that elevate the song's melody with tastefully-placed technical thrills. The final chorus trails off as Myles asks, "will you show us the way we should go?"

As a whole, "Twilight" is a solid track that serves as a nice balance against the rest of The Last Hero's monstrous riffs and epic journeys.

Highlights:
  • Brian's clever octave slide during the verses
  • How the music briefly drops out during the standout lyric (see below)
  • Some of the record's strongest lyrics

Standout lyric:
"Divided by our differences, now everything is torn apart
Tomorrow is contingent on the tolerance of every heart"


Select TABN admin opinions:
Jared wrote:One of the more catchy songs on the album in my opinion. Myles' & Mark's harmonies really jump out & blend so well on this one. Another great melodic but shreddy solo from Mark as well. The more I listen to this one it reminds me of something you would hear on AB III. 9/10
Jim wrote:With a lightly galloping verse pace, bouncy melody, and beautifully shiny chorus, twilight is a firm sitter in my top 5 songs on this record. I like some of the musical trickery they throw in, the elegant breakdown, and the subtle but driving drum track Flip laid down for this one. Mark pulls off a classic, melodic, and soaring guitar solo. 8/10

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:25 pm

Island of Fools

If there was ever an embodiment of all the words typically used to describe Alter Bridge—heavy, melodic, soaring, intricate—it would be called "Island of Fools". The song opens ominously with a single repeated note, like the one Myles plays live when teasing the beginning of "White Knuckles". The guitars and drums gradually build like an island rising from the ocean. Without warning, we are thrown into arguably The Last Hero's heaviest riff, forming circle pits directly in our brains. It would be right at home on a Tremonti record, but apparently Myles wrote the riff channeling his Mastodon influence.

The verse maintains the heaviness as Myles sings a desperate plea for the world to fight for survival. The first half is driven by a stuttering, palm mute-heavy riff separated by lurching bends, and the second half takes on a more "Ties That Bind" feel. It also becomes clear that Flip is on top of his game in "Island of Fools". Throughout the song he expertly switches between half-time and full-time rhythms, throws in offbeat cymbal hits, works the double bass pedals like a machine, and in general accentuates the composition's intricacies perfectly.

The chorus delivers another soaring melody, with Myles warning us, "save yourself, 'cause you don't have a moment to lose." After the second chorus, Myles lays down a quick solo before we reach an incredibly passionate bridge. Another chorus later, and Mark makes his last stand with an absolutely mental solo. It starts off shreddy and complex but gradually becomes slower and more bendy, which is interesting as most solos go the opposite way. Finally, the main riff returns once again to cap off this colossal track.

Highlights:
  • We have achieved peak Flip—every drum hit is perfection
  • This is a little nuanced, but in the final chorus, the lyrics are slightly altered in a way that some of the words are more drawn out, and it's beautiful

Standout lyric:
"Nothing sacred can survive
You've reached the end on borrowed time"


Select TABN admin opinions:
axlar wrote:Love how the song picks up with a heavy beat. Love this direction of Alter Bridge. Myles's singing is in the style of the classic, big arena, and festival kinds of bands. The rhythm throughout the song gives it such a high level of energy. The solo at the 3:00 minute mark isn't too long, but it fits perfectly. Love the guitar solo at the end as well, which is backed up by the great rhythm. Perfect score! 10/10
Jared wrote:Just be prepared for heaviness! Opening riff might be the heaviest they've ever written & my jaw literally dropped when I first listened to this one. Great verses are followed by an amazing chorus. Killer dynamics & the rhythm section really shines on this one... super tight playing from Brian & Flip. 9/10

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Re: 'The Last Hero': song-by-song rundown

Postby TABN Admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:26 pm

The Last Hero

"Can you hear the marching, beating of the drums?" The Last Hero's title track opens right into the verse as Myles sets the scene for this album's second epic. Flip works the hi-hats over dirty guitar chords before the main riff kicks. The quick, repetitive picking could be lifted straight from a Gojira song, starting with a lone guitar but quickly joined by a second in harmony. This goes straight back to the verse, its pantomime melody fit for musical theater; one could imagine lining up to see the story of The Last Hero on Broadway.

Finally we reach the chorus, with a beautiful melody that serves as the perfect resolution to the album. The lyrics continue the record's theme of disillusionment—having lost all faith our leaders, we are resigned to fight for ourselves. The next verse builds to such intensity that the subsequent chorus provides a calm anchor to this otherwise tumultuous odyssey. This is followed by a frantic bridge, in which Myles's voice hits new highs as he demands, "tell me where are the heroes."

In the first of two solos, we are filled with longing through Myles's wistful bends, culminating in one of his shreddiest lead sequences ever. We dive into another Gojira-esque section, with heavy, chugging palm mutes separated by the deep, tortured groans of an injured machine. Is it an interlude? Is it a bridge? At a certain point it becomes difficult to label the segments of this dynamic track.

The song pulls back into a recant of the intro before driving into the final chorus. Myles's towering leads overlay Mark's complementary harmonies. Finally we reach Mark's solo, proving once again that he has the restraint to perfectly tailor his leads to the song... but not without one last "fuck the world" legato run. The rumble of Brian's bass underscores the outro, giving closure to the song—and thus, the album.

"The last Hero" is a masterpiece in the vain of "Blackbird" and "Fortress". It's tough to compare songs like this; they will affect each listener differently. If nothing else, this song is a testament to the intricacy and finesse of Alter Bridge's songwriting and storytelling.

Highlights:
  • Tells a story that brings us up and pulls us down
  • Super tight rhythm section provides the critical foundation to the heavy guitar riffs

Standout lyric:
"Is anything worth saving anymore?"

Select TABN admin opinions:
Ashlee wrote:I think "The Last Hero" beautifully encapsulates the progression of this band. Myles and Mark singing, both getting a prominent guitar solo, amazing rhythm section. It's an excellent exclamation mark on a solid album, that showcases what we love about AB while exploring new creative avenues. 9/10
Jared wrote:A lot of goosebumps on this one and it's currently my favorite song on the album. Epic in every sense of the word and super progressive. Again this one is massively dynamic with a ton of twists & turns. The best way I can describe it is Fortress on steroids. It has some of my favorite leads as well. Perfect way to end the album! "Have we lost our last herooo?" 10/10

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