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.
"For all that we’ve done
- 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
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
Average rating: 9/10
(Rounded average of all admin ratings)