Alter Bridge – Pawns & Kings – Review

It shows just what a supremely experienced band can craft when songwriters and musicians work in harmony.

Release Date: 14/110/2022

Label: Napalm Records

Genre: Modern Hard Rock

Members: 

Myles Kennedy , Vocals, guitar
Mark Tremonti , Guitar, vocals
Brian Marshall , Bass
Scott Phillips , Drums

Tracklist: 

1 This Is War, 4:04
2 Dead Among the Living, 4:52
3 Silver Tongue, 4:19
4 Sin After Sin, 6:42
5 Stay, 4:37
6 Holiday, 3:58
7 Fable of the Silent Son, 8:22
8 Season of Promise, 4:51
9 Last Man Standing, 5:33
10 Pawns & Kings, 6:18

Heavy, epic, bombastic and intense. And that’s just the first minute of the opening track on Alter Bridge’s latest album, ‘Pawns & Kings’. The band has never shied away from delivering hard hitting rock music but ‘This Is War’ really ups the ante in terms of energy and power.

Mark Tremonti’s solo at the 3-minute mark brings a smile to the face and lets us settle down with an old friend as we explore the 10 tracks on offer from the quartet. ‘Dead Among The Living’ follows the high energy opener and, as they say, keeps the pedal pressed firmly to the metal, with more thundering riffs from Tremonti backed by the powerhouse rhythm section of Brian Marshall on bass and Scott Phillips on drums.

Once they’ve got the ‘need for speed’ out of their system, Myles Kennedy layers on his distinctive, silky-smooth vocals. With every pause though, Tremonti finds a gap just big enough to squeeze another lick or riff in and it’s that synergy between the band members, each making sure there is no lull in the music that makes this Alter Bridge’s most complete album to date. If we were stood at our local butcher’s counter then ‘Pawns & Kings’ would be the leanest, most appetising cut available to us with all of the fat trimmed off, leaving the juiciest, steak ready to be cooked.

Of course, the cooking is what the band bring to the table and just like the Michelin starred chefs out there, they know exactly how to present the most mouth-watering of dishes. Alter Bridge’s celebration piece, the dish everyone wishes they could create, comes in the form of ‘Fable of The Silent Son’. Clocking in at some 8 minutes, the track commences with the signature pounding bass of Brian Marshall before the other members weave a sonic tapestry that begs to be heard live when the band finally return to the UK shores later this year. The track builds and builds and just when you think it can’t go any further, the whole thing pauses, with all of the instruments fading into the background before a mellow guitar riff recommences the song. A softer vocal line runs alongside the guitar and for the next minute or two, we are allowed to regain our composure, taking a breath, before the song builds once more to its epic conclusion. A timeless masterpiece.

Season of Promise’, Last Man Standing’ and ‘Holiday’ gives us more of what we’ve come to expect from the band on previous releases ensuring that long time fans are kept happy and smiling. ‘Last Man Standing’ especially with it’s distinctive picking that opens the song and then runs as the undercurrent behind the body of the work works really well. It shows just what a supremely experienced band can craft when songwriters and musicians work in harmony. Everything feels like a team effort with egos being checked at the door to ensure the best can be brought to the table by everyone concerned. Kennedy’s vocals as ever are impeccable and when he hits the high notes, Tremonti follows him making sure that the instrumentation gives as good as anything Miles can present. 

The album definitely shows growth and maturity, as it should do when it features musicians with their experience and pedigree. Alter Bridge is a band clearly comfortable with its work and the foursome are so in tune with each other that they know what will and won’t work.

This is no more apparent than on the closing title track. Another 6-minute epic, ‘Pawns & Kings’ leaves us wanting more, so much more. With some 53 minutes in total on offer, in a world where attention spans are 15-25 second Tik-Tok videos, to leave us asking for more is a skill indeed.
 

 
Score 10/10

Reviewed by: Adrian Hextall

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Photo Credit: Ange Cobham / Cobspix Photography

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