Tremonti - Cauterize
Mark Tremonti has cemented himself over the last 20 years as one of the best and most influential guitarists of our generation. From Creed to Alter Bridge, he has hit the highest of highs for an American rock musician. I have always been a fan ever since I first heard Creed all those years ago. Yet, it was his solo record All I Was that left a massive impression on me. I didn’t realise how much of those bands he sculpted, with his unique sound. All I Was was familiar yet so intense and had so much passion behind it that I couldn’t help but love it. It was melodic, yet balls to the wall heavy. It was awesome to say the least.
Now we have his new album Cauterize the question has to be: Can he do it again? Well I’ll give you a hint, he’s been making great albums since 1997, do you really think he would make a flop now? No of course not. However, I don’t think that this album is just good. In my opinion it far surpasses a lot of his older material. Whilst I don’t think this album is as good as Alter Bridge’s epic Blackbird. This album is better than anything else Alter Bridge has done, and no, I do not make that statement lightly. This album is an awesome concoction of heavy riffs, superb solos, fantastic melodies and pure emotion. It’s predominately a hard rock record. There are influences from blues, thrash and doom. Even some ideas taken from singer-songwriter style music. This record is pretty much a full package of hard rock.
This record wastes no time. It goes straight in and hits you with some heavy thrash riffs. Radical Change and the title track Cauterize hit hard. The heavy tones and melodic tunes is a good clash and make the choruses that little bit more memorable. Mark’s vocal skills have improved since the last record and sound great here. There seems to be a lot more depth to his voice and a bit more of a range. He seems to be able to really hits the right notes whereas he was a little sloppy on the last album. A lot of this record keeps at this pace, with either slow ballads or heavy down tuned songs to break it up. Flying Monkeys is the heaviest it goes, feeling like a stoner/doom metal song that one sound great.
The ballads are beautifully composed too. These are the last two songs on the album Sympathy and Providence and they are atmospheric and fun to listen to. Although I think they could have been a little more anthemic. You know a big sing-along tune that would get crowds going at gigs. I think that is the only downfall of this record, in comparison to the last. It’s not quite as anthemic or memorable. Well a couple of choruses here or there but nothing like, as in The Things I’ve Seen, Decay or Doesn’t Matter This album has a lot of punch and a lot of emotion, though nothing that 100% sticks with you. Yet, that’s just lyrically. The riffs and solos are excellent, Mark has outdone himself on this front. The riffs are bold and sound big, like there’s six guitars playing at the same time. The guitar solos a well worked to, they don’t feel forced. The songs only have a guitar solo if it needs one and it only lasts as long as it needs to. In that sense it’s quite restrained.
I will also mention the great work of the band. Eric Friedman complements Mark well with his rhythm guitar work. He keeps up good pace and makes the whole album feel rounded. Garrett Whitlock is just awesome on the drums and his work frames the album well. I think it would be entertaining just listen to the drum tracking alone. Then you have Wolfgang Van Halen on the bass which is good stuff. During the thrash moments of this record. There’s this grinding bass tone and his bass-lines during the main riffs are groovy and thick. Once again making the songs feel more well rounded and enjoyable.
The stand out tracks on the album for me are Dark Trip. For its bluesy tones and dark subject matter of dealing with the darkness and pain that comes with life. Cauterize for being a thrash metal inspired song that’s catchy and interesting. Also, Sympathy which is a beautiful ballad with a lot of heart and emotion.
In sum, this is a fantastic album. It'll surprise me if I find another album this year that I enjoy more. This maybe my blatant fanboy-ness coming out, but I do think this is my album of 2015. The compositions and arrangements are great. The melody and tunes are great. The riffs and solos are great. I couldn’t say a bad thing against it. Definitely something worth investing in. Hey, with another Tremonti album already scheduled for next year I’m already psyched for more.
Words: Mick Birchall