The Tremonti Powerhouse
The powerhouse that is Mark Tremonti has just released Marching In Time (24 September 2021; Napalm Records); his fifth release in nine years. This is only one less than his production with Alter Bridge. That would normally be more than sufficient to be considered a full and successful career; but as all fans know he also co-founded Creed and released four albums with them.
Tremonti is primarily known as a guitarist, and was named ‘guitarist of the year’ by Guitar World and the ‘fourth best heavy metal guitarist of all time’ by Total Guitar magazine. But the Grammy winner is also a great songwriter as well as an outstanding vocalist; for proof of that you just have to listen to the quality of his delivery when he is performing live.
Marching In Time is largely the product of being cooped up in confinement for over a year, which perhaps gave those of a heavy tendency more material to work with. To back him Tremonti had the support of a tight unit comprising Eric Friedmann on guitars and keyboards; Ryan Bennett on drums; and Tanner Keegan on bass. In the studio he also had the support of longtime friend and producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette, who Tremonti has worked with since 2007.
Together Tremonti and his team have produced a fine collection of high quality songs, but if I was to choose one I would go for the title track, which is an almost eight minute epic about staying strong when the pillars of your life are collapsing around you. It is reportedly an open letter to his three kids that was written during the pandemic, and is as good as anything he has done. At the outset you feel it is going to be a ballad but as it advances you realize it is in sections, some of which are seriously heavy. It also contains an upbeat chorus and a guitar solo to boot; in sum, it kicks ass!
The album opens however with A World Away which features dirty bass, drum stabs, melody and, yes, power metal. On the accompanying official video, which is well worth a view, Tremonti can be seen playing his black signature PRS. The intensity continues high for Now And Forever but then ratchets down a level for If Not For You, which features more delicate guitar parts and real feeling in Tremonti’s voice. This sets the stage for the blaster Thrown Further, which if played at the noise level it merits should have neighbours around the world reaching for their phones to call the police.
The Last One of Us and Under The Sun might be the nearest Tremonti gets to ballads on this offering, while In One Piece is dark both musically and lyrically, as the songwriter expresses his belief that ‘you are mine’; I’ll leave you to make your own mind up about that!
Not Afraid to Lose opens with the lovely sentiment that “[I’m] not ashamed of the scars that define me” and grows to talk about a liberating rather than suffocating love. “At this moment in my life,” he sings, “I embrace my devotion, I am not afraid to lose.”
Bleak is an ominous sounding song that leads into the no-less ominous Would You Kill, which deals with thorny issues of morality. The album closes with the outstanding title track; don’t stick with just the audio, as this video is also well worth a watch.
With decades of experience behind him, across a number of bands, Tremonti knows his craft well. His songs are well-constructed and he balances heavy beats and guitars with fine melodies, and a voice to match. The Detroit-born powerhouse has produced another hard-hitting album to go with his previous 14; and no doubt with his production level, there will be many more on the way.