After gigging around the Pacific Northwest for much of the early 1990s, Myles Kennedy formed the Mayfield Four with three friends, guitarist Craig Johnson, who passed away in 2017, bassist Marty Meisner and drummer Zia Uddin.
Epic signed the quartet, who recorded “Fallout,” which is comprised of a surprising blend of hard rock and soul. Kennedy, who was the lead vocalist and lead guitarist, was just as moved by Motown as he was by his rock heroes, Led Zeppelin. “Fallout” twisted ears thanks to the band’s ambition and for the variety of songs. The album stood out at the dawn of an era blighted by an abundance of blah nu metal.
Johnson left the band before the recording of the act’s sophomore album, 2001’s “Second Skin.” The combination of Kennedy’s positive lyrics, particularly with catchy tunes such as “Believe” and “Carry On,” and the group’s muscular guitar attack make for an uncommon amalgamation. However, the Mayfield Four, which was scaled down to a trio, called it quits in 2002.
After Creed disbanded in 2004, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips formed Alter Bridge after inviting Kennedy to front the band. It was evident after a spin of the 2004 debut release, “One Day Remains,” that Kennedy offers considerably more range than Creed vocalist Scott Stapp, and Tremonti and he connect as a songwriting tandem. “Watch Your Words” and “Find the Real” revealed the potential of Alter Bridge.
Tremonti took it to another level with his guitar pyrotechnics throughout 2007’s “Blackbird.” “Come to Life” might be his finest hour as a guitar hero. Alter Bridge impressed with theatrical, earnest and brooding straightforward rock.
2010’s “AB III” is when Alter Bridge really soars. Former Creed bandmate Stapp is clearly in the rearview. The band’s powerful, guitar-driven rock and Kennedy’s soaring voice meld together perfectly. The moody project was their deepest to date. “Fortress,” which was released in 2013, proves that the busier you are, the better. The album was created around Kennedy’s project with Slash and Tremonti’s solo release.
There are some moments when Alter Bridge dials it down sonically, but their finest moments are when the group delivers visceral hard rock. Poignant hard rock is the calling card of 2016’s “The Last Hero.” Alter Bridge hits its mark with the power ballad “You Will Be Remembered” and the metallic “The Other Side.” “The Last Hero” is eclectic and full of dramatic, hook-laden songs.
“Walk the Sky,” which dropped in 2019, is for those who say hard rock is dead. Alter Bridge delivers an hour’s worth of shots to the gut. At times, Alter Bridge conjures images of Soundgarden thanks to Kennedy’s impressive range. Kennedy hits some seriously high notes while Tremonti brings the noise.
2020’s “Walk the Sky 2.0” is for Alter Bridge fans who can’t get enough of the band’s heavy tunes. The EP is a collection of six live cuts and one new track. The live tracks sound great, but it’s not surprising since Alter Bridge is best experienced live. Thumbs up for the brooding new track “Last Rites.”
Kennedy works well with guitar masters. The South Hill resident perfectly complements Slash throughout 2014’s “World on Fire,” the surprising album by Slash, Kennedy and the Conspirators. Slash nails a number of solos, and the songwriting chemistry is there. Sixteen of the 17 tracks are Slash/Kennedy co-writes. “Automatic Overdrive” and “Iris of the Storm” stand out.
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