Mark Tremonti and Scott Phillips formed Alter Bridge in 2004 after a cooling of their relationship with the Creed singer (Creed has since reconciled and reunited). The new band hooked up with then ex-Creed bassist Brian Marshall and former Mayfield Four front man Myles Kennedy (who recently performed and co-wrote 2 songs on Slash’s solo record and fronts his touring band).
In 2004, the band recorded their debut album, One Day Remains. It went gold in the United States and spawned three singles as well as the track “Metalingus,” which was adopted by the WWE’s Superstar Edge as his theme song later that year. In 2007 the band released the critically acclaimed second album, Blackbird, which included the hit singles “Rise Today” and “Watch Over You.” The latter became a top 10 video as well as the featured song on VH-1’s Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. The band took to the road to promote their sophomore release, gaining more fans across the globe with their intense and powerful live show.
Lyrically, the first two albums are based on themes immersed in hope and perseverance in the face of adversity. On AB III, however, the theme has shifted. Kennedy states, “This record is definitely a departure from the last two albums in terms of its subject matter. It touches on the thoughts and emotions of someone who has come to question everything that was once regarded as an absolute truth. It’s the realization that everything you once believed in might not exist.”
This journey is set into motion by the album’s opening track, “Slip to the Void.” The song’s sparse and moody intro sets up the narrative as Kennedy’s vocal and lyrics emerge. Tremonti adds, “’Slip To The Void,’ has one of my favorite vocal performances ever by Myles, the song is really creepy and lets the listener know the vibe of the record. It’s pretty dark, the intro really sucks you in.”
The album then shifts gears into the metallic first single, “Isolation,” showcasing Alter Bridge’s ability to play and write aggressively while maintaining their signature melodic component. Tremonti states, “Melody is still the most important thing for us. There’s no point in being heavy just for the sake of being heavy.”
From the bombastic riffs of “Still Remains” to the brooding band favorite “Show Me A Sign,” the album plays like a concept record whose main character is someone desperately struggling to find their place in a world steeped in doubt and emptiness. The track, “Words Darker Than Their Wings,” is the final chapter of this tale. Kennedy says, “The lyric was inspired by a conversation I had with a good friend a while ago. It was the catalyst for the idea of having both Mark and I trade off on the lead vocal. I thought it would be a good way of making the differing points of view in the ‘conversation’ more effective. More importantly, I thought Mark sounded great singing it!”
While AB III is a record with a consistent theme, there are songs both musically and thematically that break away and touch on different human emotions. One of those moments is found in “Wonderful Life,” a song that Kennedy claims was “An extremely emotional song to put together, it took a long time.” He then adds, “The lyric was inspired by the idea that there will come a day when we all must say goodbye to the ones we love and hold dear in our hearts. Basically, I asked myself what would I want to say in that final moment, that last goodbye?”
The band enlisted Producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Iggy Pop, Incubus), to capture the vision the band had for AB III. Baskette, described by Tremonti as “like a fifth band-member,” was also at the helm for the recording of Blackbird. Kennedy says,” Over the years we have definitely established a bond with Elvis. We trust his instincts, he knows how to bring out the best in us sonically and creatively.”
AB III is an incredibly intense and dynamic album proving Alter Bridge continues to grow and evolve with each recording. “We went into the process of putting the record together with a lot of confidence,” Tremonti reveals, “but we didn’t go into it looking to be commercial, or to have radio singles. We just wanted this to be an album that pleased us artistically, through and through.”