Album Review: Alter Bridge – Walk The Sky

Text by Phil Ashdown.

I’ve followed Alter Bridge’s career from their superb debut album and seeing them live at London’s now demolished Astoria back in 2008 and watched them outgrow venues such as Brixton Academy, Hammersmith Apollo and even Wembley Arena. The band have a huge following in Europe, but it is the UK that embraced them from the early days right up to their colossal shows with the Parallax Orchestra over two nights at a sold-out Royal Albert Hall. They have achieved this with quality music, live shows, minimal radio or TV support and no gimmicks.

I have to be honest and say it was with some trepidation that I awaited the release of Walk The Sky after the previous LP, The Last Hero, and talk of more electronica sounds being used on this album. I needn’t have been concerned.

Walk The Sky has touches of both electronic and orchestral elements to it, clearly influenced by their time spent with the Parallax Orchestra. This album sounds huge and ambitious in its scope would sound incredible on a good quality sound system.

After a brief, quiet intro song the album properly kicks off with Wouldn’t You Rather with a mighty Tremonti riff over some of the rhythm section’s finest work they have ever put on record. In The Deep quickly follows, very much in the same vein, this time with an irresistible chorus added to the mix. Bryan Marshall’s bass is incredible on this track, really driving the song along.

Next up is Godspeed, a classy and commercial song that manages to still be heavy but not overpowering the sing-a-long nature of the tune. The keyboards start to become more noticeable from here on, in fact this one starts with a brief piano intro. It’s a track that is destined to become a live favourite that seems to be made for arenas.

Native Son starts quietly, but don’t be fooled as Tremonti unleashes a monstrous down-tuned riff that leads to another catchy chorus that gets right under your skin on repeated listens with it’s Woah! Woah’s! backing vocals.

Alter Bridge have that song writing ability to come up with sublime tunes so easily yet retain a really heavy sound with genuinely moving lyrics. Of course when you have a singer of Myles Kennedy’s quality and range, anything is possible. The quality continues with Take The Crown and the slower-paced Indoctrination with its eerie keyboard backing followed by the classy The Bitter End with it’s anthemic feel and refrain of “ The bitter end will come in time, but the joy I have found in the sweet here and now, it keeps me alive.”

Swirling synths introduce Pay No Mind as the band stretch themselves into a different kind of sound while still retaining the riffs and rousing choruses fans have come to expect. Forever Falling begins with a gentle guitar before the fastest riff on the album reveals a chance for Mark Tremonti to take the lead vocals. His voice could be a little higher in the mix but he does a fine job with some lovely harmony work on the chorus.

Further quality is in abundance on the final four tracks Clear Horizon, Walking On The Sky, Tear Us Apart and album closer Dying Light. It’s this final number that gives the album arguably it’s finest track. Myles vocals are again sublime and showcases his incredible range that he makes seem so effortless and is a fitting conclusion to an excellent hard rock album. You will be hard pressed to find a better one in 2019, we just had to wait until October to finally get it.

Surely now the rock world will finally awaken and embrace Alter Bridge as they continue to quietly grow in stature, laying waste to huge venues across Europe. Bring on the O2 on December 21st!!

The album is currently sitting at number three in the Official UK Vinyl Charts.

1. One Life
2. Wouldn’t You Rather
3. In the Deep
4. Godspeed
5. Native Son
6. Take the Crown
7. Indoctrination
8. The Bitter End
9. Pay No Mind
10. Forever Falling
11. Clear Horizon
12. Walking on the Sky
13. Tear Us Apart
14. Dying Light

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