Traditions are easily made and easily broken. We normally get a live album from Alter Bridge between studio efforts whilst the quartet are working on their myriad of other projects. But it seems that’s not on the bingo card for 2020 (although who had new System of a Down material?) or any time in the future.
Instead, Messrs Kennedy, Tremonti, Philips and Marshall have repackaged last year’s Walk the Sky with a lockdown-recorded song and an EP’s worth of live cuts of said latest album. For the already initiated – that’s what’s going to be the draw and for those who haven’t heard Walk the Sky already – it’s doesn’t quite hit the heights of Fortress but it’s more Alter Bridge so you’re unlikely to complain too much.
Whilst Walk the Sky numbers slotted in well with older material on last year’s tour (as was to be expected), an entire EP’s worth of live tracks show they’re not quite as strong as preceding material. Certainly the half-dozen songs they’ve picked to form this EP were the better tracks but they just don’t have the heft and depth you’d normally expect. Despite that, it still shows how slick and polished a live act Alter Bridge have always been for the past decade and a half.
From a production standpoint, it’s their best release. Everything is properly mixed, both guitars from Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy are crystal clear, Brian Marshall’s bass thrums broodingly and Scott Philips’ drums are as thunderous as always. The audience reactions make you feel like you’re there with them and Kennedy’s vocals can be heard – in other words, none of these recordings are taken from Glasgow’s Hydro.
And what of the new song? “Last Rites” is just like Walk the Sky – it’s more Alter Bridge. It’s still produced to a high standard (and not overly so which had plagued Alter Bridge and their related efforts for a time) and you’d never know it’s from lockdown. Where it does differ is this is the rawest Alter Bridge have sounded in a long time, it feels more vicious like their first two albums. Lyrically it goes darker into The Last Hero territory and together it melds together into a workable song. Indeed, it doesn’t bolster or hold this EP back – it’s simply a bonus as we wait for the next album from Alter Bridge (even if a pandemic has put paid to everyone’s plans and may now be further away).
Walk the Sky 2.0 is for the hardcore Alter Bridge fans first and foremost. If somehow you missed it last year, then yes, have this as the version in your physical or digital collection. A full live album from them may not be on the cards this time around but you can always slot the songs into a playlist with older live albums to make your own version.
Header image by Dan Sturgess
Walk the Sky 2.0 is out now