Review by Greg Maki
What do you do when your last recording session yielded two full albums (“Cauterize,” 2015; “Dust,” 2016) of metal masterworks? If you’re Tremonti—the band led by current Alter Bridge/former Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti, also featuring guitarist Eric Friedman and drummer Garrett Whitlock—you come up with something even more ambitious: a concept album.
You don’t need to immerse yourself in the sci-fi tale set at the turn of the next century to appreciate “A Dying Machine,” however. In fact, without the lyrics in front of me, I have yet to decipher the details of the story; a novel planned to accompany the record should make following it a lot easier. For now, all you need to know is that the album flat-out rips. It’s full of speed-metal-inflected riffing and thunderous drumming, while Tremonti and Friedman trade licks on some tasty solos. More than that, it showcases Tremonti’s stellar songwriting and his vocals, which always have been solid and have improved with each record.
With 14 songs and topping 60 minutes, “A Dying Machine” is a lot for the listener to take in, even when focusing solely on the music. But it’s also the most diverse of the four Tremonti albums, with varying tones, moods and levels of heaviness. Highlights include bangers “Bringer of War,” “Throw Them to the Lions” and “Make It Hurt,” the dynamic and dramatic “Traipse,” the grooving “A Lot Like Sin,” the radio-ready “Take You with Me,” the even catchier (and mellower) “The First the Last” and the title track, which incorporates all of the above. I realize I’ve listed more than half the record, and that just goes to show how strong it is from top to bottom.
Right now, I’d rank “A Dying Machine” slightly behind “Cauterize” as my favorite Tremonti album, but this feels like one that will become more rewarding the deeper you delve into it. I’m eager to do exactly that.
(Napalm Records, June 8, 2018)