During any “normal” year, as soon as November hits and touring season kicks in, there is the usual glut of ‘Tour Editions’ of previously released albums. Although sometimes shelling out for the same album twice, just to get the bonus tracks, can be a thorny subject, complete-ists have to have them. So, kudos to the hard-working, arena-headlining Alter Bridge for giving their fans something new with a companion piece to their last studio album ‘‘Walk The Sky’, in the shape of six live tracks and one entirely new track written during lockdown.
The clue is in the title really; ‘Walk The Sky 2.0’. Six tracks lifted from ‘Walk The Sky’ given the live treatment from Messrs Kennedy, Tremonti, Marshall, and Phillips. As good as Alter Bridge are in the studio, it’s the live stage where they really stretch out, and the material sprouts wings and takes flight. You are missing out if you haven’t had your face melted by Mark Tremonti. Before ‘Walk The Sky 2.0’ settles into a live groove, AB treats their ever-growing legions of fans with a brand new track; ‘Last Rites’. A product of its own times, ‘Last Rites’ is Alter Bridge at their darkest, and heaviest. Shades of Alice In Chains here and there, with lashings of down-tuned guitar riffs, and killer vocal harmonies. There is something quite soothing about lying back in a darkened room, slipping on some cans, and letting the towering, mind-bending guitar tones wash over you. Alter Bridge are a band with two very accomplished guitarists and it’s a real thrill hearing Tremonti and Kennedy letting fly.
The live tracks begin with the pounding ‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ which features a stellar performance from one of the most finely tuned rhythm sections in Rock music today; bassist Brian Marshall, and the man bringing the thunder night after night – Scott Phillips. Myles Kennedy does what he does best and shows yet again why he is the true “voice of rock”, while Mark Tremonti…well, he is Mark Fucking Tremonti after all…guitar hero for a new generation. ‘Pay No Mind’ was one of the highlights of ‘Walk The Sky’ and live it doesn’t disappoint. A fantastic modern proggy sound runs throughout it and makes for an interesting Dream Theatre-meets-John Carpenter vibe in places. Phillips delivers another incredible non-fussy performance, and if you have ever had the pleasure of catching him live then you’ll know that he makes it look effortless. ‘Native Son’ features the lyric “I’m a native son in a foreign land. I’m just living in a world I can’t understand” and with the US presidential election playing out in the background, it is rather timely. Fantastic guitar groove on this one.
‘Godspeed’ sounds immense live, and offers an upbeat, mid-tempo few minutes that are easily relatable to anyone dealing with loss in whatever shape or form. People take what they can from music, and ‘Godspeed’ offers up a simple message of “you are missed” as a tribute. Ending on a spirited rendition of ‘Dying Light’, ‘Walk The Sky 2.0’ is not only a stunning reminder of how powerful a live band Alter Bridge are but also serves a purpose in reminding the listener how much they miss actual live gigs.
Available through Napalm Records November 6th. More information here.
Review – Dave
Header image – Dan Sturgess