By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Music fans out there would hate to admit this, but I do believe a lot of them were closeted Creed fans. The alternative hard rock group from the late 1990s and early 2000s had both a huge following and a selection of haters. Most of the music that the post grunge band would put out had heavy riffs and sizzling solos. That was all in part, thanks to the efforts of their axe man, Mark Tremonti. I always loved the way he played his guitar and the kinds of licks he would create, whether it was in Creed or his other mega-star group, Alter Bridge. In 2012, he ventured into uncharted territory by putting out his first heavy metal solo album, All I Was, which was met with love from both fans and critics. After 3 albums successful solo outings, Tremonti looks to continue that success with his 4th release, A Dying Machine. What makes this record unique is it is his first concept record.
On A Dying Machine, I hear Tremonti raising the bar with his musical writing, creating an album whose theme verges on science fiction. Without giving too much of the concept, it is centered on a lab-grown synthesized humanoid who leads a revolt against his masters. As always, Tremonti features crunchy bass riffs and swift, meaty drumming by Eric Friedman and Garret Whitlock, respectively. As soon as I hit play on the first track “Bringer of War,” I am treated to a chaotic anthem that would continue on to “From the Sky.” Tremonti is always scorching on his weapon of choice, but his voice that gives the songs its tough punch. Throughout this record, there is raw passion and a fiery resolve in his singing. The title track paints a vivid picture of the vessel’s owner describing its purpose while attacking it verbally.
We head into “Trust,” where I hear the group going into an alternative metal feel. This is a very sharp tune that contrasts to the first 3 songs, but it fits perfectly. Being a huge fan of thrash metal, Tremonti delivers a knock-out with “Throw Them to the Lions.” Whitlock is in Charlie Benante mode, delivering the double bass pedals and thunderous stick pounding that goes with Tremonti’s soul-wrenching solo. Entering “Make It Hurt,” fans will be headbanging throughout the song. “Traipse” has an interesting mix of thrash metal and post-grunge. If anyone can make it work, this band can. Things slow down once “The First The Last” starts playing. It is a very melancholic tune that deals with anguish and agony. Things start to get tough again with “A Lot Like Sin,” then that is when the sledge hammer is swung as soon as “The Day When Legions Burned.” It is filled with an intense melody and rough vocals.
This next song is probably my personal favorite, entitled “As the Silence Becomes Me.” I feel that Tremonti was influenced from Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” to give us a song about forgiveness. Everything about this song was beautiful crafted. “Take You With Me” gives the protagonist a sense of hope, while “Desolation” speaks of more heartache from a past anomaly. A Dying Machine comes full circle with the interlude “Found,” whose mechanical background music makes me believe I am watching the credits as this sci-fi journey comes to a close.
This is arguably Tremonti’s best work as of yet. With each new album, he keeps broadening his horizons; daring to take bigger risks with his solo work. From what I have read in an interview, he is working with a novelist, hoping to write an accompanying book go along with the music. I do not always read sci-fi, but after hearing A Dying Machine, I am actually a little anxious to read this book. I hope Tremonti decides to play this in its entirety when he hits the road, sort of like what Dream Theater did with The Astonishing. So far, this is one of my top 20 choices of 2018. To Mark Tremonti, I salute you. Horns up!!! 9.5/10
1 Bringer of War
2 From the Sky
3 A Dying Machine
5 Throw Them to the Lions
6 Make It Hurt
8 The First the Last
9 A Lot Like Sin
10 The Day When Legions Burned
11 As the Silence Becomes Me
12 Take You With Me
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