Artists who branch out and create solo albums usually do so as a result of ego, creative freedom, and sometimes boredom. Most solo albums don’t live up to the quality that the artist’s band has. That’s due to many reasons: general lack of high-profile producers, other songwriters, and a checks & balance system that keeps perspective throughout a project. Still, there’s no denying that most of these solo projects have an enormous amount of talent. It may come as a surprise to many of you that Mark Tremonti, guitarist of Creed and Alterbridge, is one of these talented artists. Now before you Creed haters go throwing your low fat soy frappuccinos at the screen, take a minute to think this through. Tremonti released a hard rock album without Scott Stapp (lead singer of Creed) or Miles Kennedy (lead singer of Alterbridge) and plays a lot of heavy metal riffs. Not a bad idea right? It’s not a bad album either.
The album is entitled “All I Was” and received a decent amount of hype on the internet. Anyone who’s a Creed and/or Alterbridge fan will definitely notice many similarities in the music, since Tremonti is the principal songwriter in both bands. However, the most noticeable thing about his solo record is that it’s actually heavier than both Creed and Alterbridge. Lots of double kick drum, gallop riffing, dropped tuning, breakdowns, squealing guitar leads, and of course, balls (You can’t have heavy music without balls… or ovaries if you’re a woman but it doesn’t sound as nice. Heavy as ovaries? I don’t think so).
Another noticeable factor (besides the genitilia) in the album is Tremonti’s singing. His vocals are very melodic and interesting in the record. His use of builds, melody, and tension/release with his vocals and lyrics is quite excellent. He also doesn’t tread into pop/commercial territory with these songs. The weakest part of the album, however, is the tonal quality of his voice. It’s not bad by any means but it’s missing the strength, quality, range, and dynamics that other great singers have. Even so, it’s still pleasing to listen to and doesn’t get annoying or harsh at any moment during the album.
The album isn’t all metal riffing though. Songs like “The Things I’ve Seen” and “New Way Out” provide great contrast to the heaviness of the rest of the songs. It’s not a completely diverse record per se, but there are a lot of interesting changes and moods. It sounds like Tremonti wanted to create a heavy rock record with lots of soloing and great vocals. I have to give it to him, that’s exactly what he came out with.
Is the solo record as good as any of his Creed or Alterbridge records? That largely depends on your taste of music. Even though it’s similar to both bands, this record is still different from either of them. Also, let’s not lose sight of the point of a solo record: for an artist to express himself/herself alone. Part of Tremonti is in Creed and Alterbridge, but so is part of other band members. With this album, all you get is Tremonti playing his heart out. And I, for one, really like what he has to say with this record. So get yourself a copy of this record and a REAL cup of coffee and listen for yourself what a very talented musician has to say.