There is nothing as exhilarating as experiencing a rock and roll arena show live: the roar of the crowd as the speakers blare the sounds of everyone’s favorite tunes, the lights, the curtain calls.
One of the most difficult challenges bands face is how to capture that energy in a live album. That’s precisely what Alter Bridge was able to pull off with their latest release, Live At The Royal Albert Hall featuring The Parallax Orchestra. The album, which is the bands’ fourth live release, was recorded in October 2017 at The Royal Albert Hall in London, England.
Adding a unique depth and mystique to these arrangements, Alter Bridge was accompanied by the 52-piece Parallax Orchestra, conducted by Simon Dobson.
Alter Bridge is fronted by vocalist Myles Kennedy and features former Creed members Mark Tremonti (guitars), Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott Phillips (drums). When listening to Alter Bridge, the first thing anyone will appreciate is that we are privileged to listen to perhaps one of the great guitarists of all time in Mark Tremonti. There are few players who can handle complex riffs with the ease that he demonstrates time and again.
For those new to Alter Bridge, the lyrical content in their music always has significant purpose and meaning. According to Tremonti in a 2017 interview, “every song means a lot to us. A lot of [Alter Bridge] songs were written for specific people.” Tremonti recently released his fourth solo project with his self-titled band, A Dying Machine, and published a book of the same name.
Live At The Royal Albert Hall features 21 Alter Bridge classics, available for streaming or as a two-disc set or DVD/BlueRay video. The opener, “Slip to the Void,” starts out softly and in an eery minor key appropriate for this song of dire warning about slipping into darkness and severing ties in order to isolate. That song is followed by upbeat rocker “Addicted to Pain,” with a catchy hook which is even more fun to listen to when backed by the orchestra. Lead vocalist Myles Kennedy shows off his range from high to low on this one as well as his energy and ability to get the crowd involved.
Lyrically, one of the best songs on the record is “Cry Of Achilles.” The tune starts off pianissimo with a simple yet rhythmic guitar run, leading into a fast-paced verse which talks about being buried in self-doubt. The bridge asks the important question, “is there nothing left to follow? / Crying out for something more than I’ve been shown” and finally concludes in the chorus with hope: “Don’t close your eyes / Something beautiful is still alive / Never turn away and let it die.” This song also features bassist Brian Marshall on a solid bass solo during an instrumental break about halfway through the tune.
Proving they can slow things down and allow for moments of quiet reflection, “In Loving Memory” is a reverent and beautiful ballad about remembering someone, lost in a positive flow of thoughts. The tempo and dynamics on this piece allow the Parallax to shine through into a crescendo of celebration: “I’m glad He set you free from sorrow / I’ll still love you more tomorrow / And you will be here with me still.”
Alter Bridge included a few songs that have rarely or never been played live during their career, including a tune that Mark Tremonti said is about a conversation between Myles Kennedy and him about their beliefs, “Words Darker Than Their Wings.” This plays out as a respectful and deep conversation, perhaps over coffee, between an atheist and someone who believes in God. Kennedy and Tremonti take turns singing their part of the transcript, but the chorus is shared by both in a display of ultimate harmony despite differing thoughts: “Into the light may you fall / Into the light may you follow / Into the light may you know / Truth alone.”
Deeply profound lyrical content along with the high-energy vibe of a live rock show will engage listeners on a soul-searching experience allowing for thoughtful contemplation or prayer, while enjoying highly skilled musical performance from one of the more technically tight rock groups around. The additional layer of the Parallax Orchestra creates a depth to these live tracks delightfully reminiscent of the Trans Siberian Orchestra.
Related Artists: Creed, Skillet, RED