Personnel: Mark Tremonti, Myles Kennedy (vocals, guitar); Michael "Elvis" Baskette (strings, keyboards, programming); Scott Phillips (drums).
Audio Mixer: Michael "Elvis" Baskette.
Recording information: NRG, LA; Studio Barbarosa, Orlando, Florida.
Floridian hard rockers Alter Bridge return for their fifth round of melodic hard-driving anthems on 2016's The Last Hero. A purportedly non-political roll call for future leaders in troubled times, it follows 2013's Fortress, a critical high-watermark for the veteran group. That Alter Bridge's members can remain as busy as they are -- with singer Myles Kennedy fronting Slash's group and guitarist Mark Tremonti delivering two new solo albums in just a year's time -- and still find the time to write and record quality material is an impressive feat, and yet they make a solid showing on this follow-up. Like all but their first release, The Last Hero was produced by longtime collaborator Michael "Elvis" Baskette and doesn't deviate far from the band's tried and true sonic signature. Opener "Show Me a Leader" begins with some massive and tuneful power leads from Tremonti before the tempo picks up and Kennedy dives headlong into a rousing harmonic performance. There are uplifting tracks like "My Champion," power ballads like "You Will Be Remembered," and punishing metal riff-rockers like "The Other Side." Overall, the highs are as high as they've ever been and the band sounds robust and energized throughout the disc's 13 tracks. Although they tend to get right down to business, brevity is of little concern to Alter Bridge, and you won't find a track under four minutes, with most approaching six or so. They aren't necessarily breaking new barriers here, but that's not really what Alter Bridge are looking for. For longtime fans, there's enough heft and craft here to satisfy, while new listeners will find a solid entry point into the band's growing canon. ~ Timothy Monger