Two weeks ago, TeamRock released their list of The Top 10 Alter Bridge songs. It was wrong. Very fucking wrong, to the point where I immediately started brainstorming my own list. And given that “Creed plus Myles Kennedy” just released lead single “Show Me a Leader” from their forthcoming fifth album The Last Hero, the timing feels appropriate.
Cherry picking songs from Alter Bridge’s four studio albums proved to be a strange process, because of their four existing LPs, two of them are excellent and two of them are aggressively mediocre. Fortress, the band’s latest and crowning achievement thus far, is the sound of a Metal-tinged Hard Rock band making a thunderous leap into Metal territory without abandoning their core sound. Blackbird, the band’s sophomore effort, is chalk full of tasteful anthems.
That leaves their debut LP One Day Remains and AB III. The former a) sounds incredibly dated in 2016, and b) though I nowadays refer to Alter Bridge as “Creed plus Myles Kennedy” in a facetious manner, it’s essentially just Creed with better vocals and a bit more edge. Hella boring. As for AB III, many of its unnecessarily high number of tracks just present themselves as Blackbird b-sides, and formulaic and repetitive ones at that. But AB III does have a chunk of good tracks, and if we did a Top 15 I could definitely squeeze a few more in. But having established the lopsided nature of Alter Bridge’s catalogue, it should no longer be a surprise that their four records are disproportionately represented here.
To be fair, I now have slightly more empathy for TeamRock than when I first gawked at their list, because putting this together has been like being stuck in a cesspool of second guesses and mood swings. I’m practically tortured by how much I’ll likely disagree with these picks in a matter of days or even hours. But that didn’t stop me, ‘cause I’m the Little Engine that Could of pretentious music writers. So, without further ado, here are the CORRECT Top 10 Alter Bridge songs! (Just kidding. Sort of.)
10. Ties That Bind (Blackbird)
A fan favorite and the explosive kickoff to the band’s most successful LP, “Ties That Bind” maintains an urgent intensity throughout and does so without sacrificing hooks or memorability. It’s also a sneak peak at the Metal-leaning approach Alter Bridge would explore more fully on Fortress.
9. Still Remains (AB III)
Unfortunately, this is one of only a handful of highlights on the band’s third record. Is it “Come to Life” part 2? Sort of. But its stadium-sized chorus and roaring stop-start riff are nothing to scoff at. Not to mention the Thrash-y bridge section at 2:40 foreshadows what Tremonti would later pursue with his solo band
8. Bleed it Dry (Fortress)
“Bleed It Dry” is the closest Alter Bridge have gotten to a full-on Metal assault. Shouldn’t be a shocker that it’s one of my favorites. But it’s not just an aggression-fest; the track features an Opeth-style clean guitar break followed by Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti’s best solo section since “Blackbird” (spoiler alert!).
7. Farther Than the Sun (Fortress)
“Farther Than the Sun” is what Alter Bridge attempted but failed to accomplish on AB III: a seamless synthesis of bright radio rock choruses and crushing, detuned Groove Metal riffs.
6. Open Your Eyes (One Day Remains)
The flawlessly executed radio hit that launched the band’s career still holds up. The beautifully delicate vocals at 2:40 and the ripping guitar solo from Tremonti helped it stand out from the Crossfades and Stainds of the world.
5. Calm the Fire (Fortress)
The intro to “Calm the Fire” is the band’s most adventurous musical passage to date, with Myles Kennedy’s ethereal, neoclassical-tinged vocals sitting atop a brooding acoustic guitar. The dramatic mood continues through a switch to distorted guitar, and the track is kicked into high gear with the pre-version section, which remains one of my favorite moments in all of Alter Bridge’s catalogue.
4. Cry of Achilles (Fortress)
The surprisingly ferocious opener to Fortress quickly informed listeners that this was going to be a different record. After a dark acoustic guitar passage sets things up, the band launch straight into a high-octane riff fest that never lets up.
3. Watch Over You (Blackbird)
“Watch Over You” is the tender, tear-jerking ballad to end all tender, tear-jerking ballads. Kennedy’s warm falsetto in the first chorus yanks at the heart strings, but it’s a dynamic track too – when given a distorted Rock and Roll push, the song not only holds up but builds towards a mountainous climax before settling back into its humble acoustic beginnings.
2. Come to Life (Blackbird)
The quintessential Alter Bridge jam. There’s a lot to love about this track, but its the vocal interplay between Kennedy and Tremonti in the chorus that ultimately makes it.
1. Blackbird (Blackbird)
Well, I guess the folks over at TeamRock did get one thing right. It’s difficult to dispute this one. Powerful and moving lyrics, stellar instrumental arrangements, and a solo section that Guitar World literally voted ONE OF THE BEST OF ALL TIME help “Blackbird” slide comfortably into the number one slot.