Album: Marching In Time
Release Date: September 24th 2021
Label: Napalm Records
Reviewer: Anne-Marie Jones
Bright and uplifting, yet dark and brooding. Melodically catchy and rhythmically thumping. Marching in Time is impeccably written!
The latest release from Tremonti – solo project of Mark Tremonti, best known for his successes with Alter Bridge and Creed – is evidence that this man can do no wrong.
Mark Tremonti has been known to say in interviews that songwriting is what he regards most highly in the music making process. Marching in Time, album number 5 for the band, is evidence that his well of creativity runs deep.
2020 was a year of great challenges and isolation, but it also offered something that many touring artists, especially those working on multiple projects, find elusive… time. Alter Bridge were forced to cancel the remaining tour dates in April 2020 due to COVID; so, after some taking some time to consolidate and finish a few projects around home, Mark set to work.
Technically brilliant, this album will appeal not only to your average hard rock/metal fan, but to those that appreciate great musicianship. There are many engaging, melodic moments that will continue to ring in your ears for weeks. Yet, fans of the gutsy, bombastic rhythm and bass section, will not be disappointed.
Case in point is first track, A World Away. The first 40 seconds of this song is thumping! Drummer, Ryan Bennett, showing off his chops right at the get go. Strap yourself in as you ride the rollercoaster to melodic heights; chug slowly and sweetly along the straight sections and then come driving back down with the exciting double kick rhythms. Check out the view from the top as Tremonti offers up his signature shredding solo. The ride comes to a slow and steady finish with the dark, edgy riffs heard at the beginning of the track.
Following the opener is fellow early release, Now and Forever. Punchy drums and driving riffs create a tether for the catchy chorus. Guitarist and back up vocalist, Eric Friedman, lends a bright harmony to Mark’s warm melody. In my opinion, the light and shade offered up by that balance between the heavy and the catchy is what creates Tremonti’s appeal. They manage to transition perfectly between the elements.
First single, If Not for You, makes for an ideal rock radio station friendly tune. The intro draws you in sweetly with a catchy riff and that balm of a voice, right before the heavy bass punch in the chest that lets you know you’re alive. I like the effect used to give the vocals a distant, vintage sound. It’s got a great, steady pace that is driven along by that riff continuing in the background through a good portion of the song. Some funky effects used (presumably on the guitars) to lead into the bridge give it a nice edge.
A cool riff with short, sharp strumming leads into next track, Thrown Further. I really enjoy the way Mark creates intrigue with some funky little riff or quiet section at the beginning of a tune and then comes thundering in with ballsy drums and guitar. It seems to be a signature move of his and is very cool. There’s a whining guitar part that peers out in sections of this song, that creates an interesting listening experience. If you are not taken on a journey with this song by embracing the pacey sections, breaks, highlights, and lowlights, you may just be missing the point.
Another heavy one coming your way with ‘Let that be us’. Again, the use of different speeds, the occasional vocal effect, and a very singable chorus, makes this a great tune to get stuck in your head. The build up in the bridge with the toms is a lot of fun! And bassist, Tanner Keegan, offers up a killer bass line right before the vocals kick in.
‘The Last One of Us’ is my front runner for favourite track on the album. The feel is moody and beautiful. The delicate use of a background bluesy guitar part evokes a lot of emotion. My guess would be that guitarist, Eric Friedman, is responsible for this beauty, but I may be wrong. It leads gently into the bridge and then kicks into gear with an impassioned vocal performance. The final chorus is closed off with a killer lead solo that has some very funky differences to Mark’s usual style.
‘In One Piece’ brings us back to the heavier, overdriven guitars, thumping drums and bass. My favourite part of this song is the eerie little guitar part in the first verse. It’s highlights like these that ensure the listener is engaged. I’m intrigued to know the background on the lyrics – ‘you’re never getting out of here in one piece’ – ‘you’ll never be anything, but you’re mine’. Very dark and interesting.
Next track, ‘Under the Sun’ has remnants of Alter Bridge’s Walk the Sky album for me. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it yet, but the chorus reminds me of something off that album. Mark’s vocal performance in the second verse is goosebumps inducing. His voice seems to be improving with age.
‘Not Afraid to Lose’ is another favourite of mine. Maybe it’s a girl thing. I love the vulnerability in it. Don’t for a minute think that this reviewer will shy away from the heavy stuff though! This song has all the trappings of a gorgeous rock ballad, and who doesn’t love one of those?! The difference is that this is not your average 3 minute ballad. The bridge brings a change in pace and takes on a melancholy feel before drawing you out beyond the shadows and into the light. What a stunning lyric – “Well, if you were to hide, you know I’d love to find you”. Just gorgeous.
Broody is the best way to describe next song ‘Bleak’. I think fans of 90’s grunge will enjoy this track. It’s kind of Nine Inch Nails meets Alice in Chains, meets Super Shredder, Mark Tremonti! There are some cleverly written lyrics. I can’t help but wonder how often the word ‘asunder’ has been used in a song lyric.
‘Would You Kill’ seems to be an early favourite among long standing Tremonti fans. To my mind, it is old school Tremonti. The tried and tested formula of full-blown hard rock/heavy metal with plenty of grunting guitars and heavy bass and drums.
Title and closing track ‘Marching in Time’ is by far the epic of the album. A seven-and-a-half-minute voyage, it’s reported that this song was inspired by the impending (in 2020) birth of Tremonti’s third child and only daughter, Stella. Considering the song in that vein, the lyrics are a beautiful imparting of wisdom from father to daughter to never give up and stand up for what you believe in. Musically, it is a journey that must be taken on one’s own. Nothing I could tell you about it would do it justice.
It is clear, that as a fan of Mark Tremonti, my review was always going to be glowing, however, I challenge any fan of the rock & metal genres to deny the quality of this album. Exquisitely written, musically interesting and engaging. Highly recommended. March your way to the store to grab it today!