Published on July 22nd, 2012 | by Phoenix0
Tremonti Remembers All He Was
You may not have heard the name Mark Tremonti before, but chances are you’ve heard of either of the two bands who he serves as a guitarist, Alter Bridge and Creed. He is widely considered one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time; Guitar World named him Guitarist of the Year for three consecutive years, and Total Guitar named him the fourth greatest heavy metal guitarist of all time. While Tremonti has thrived professionally working with two hard rock bands, he was originally inspired to take up guitar through listening to heavier metal bands such as Metallica. It makes sense, then, that his first album would be billed as speed metal. I must admit, I was a little worried when I first heard that, because metal bands frequently overdo it when it comes to using screaming in their vocals, and often use what I call “headache drums,” or drum lines that do nothing but pound in sixteenth note intervals and make me feel ill listening to at times.
Fortunately, Tremonti has always focused on making sure that his hard rock songs are not simply sludgy and incoherent, saying in an interview with Loudwire that, “Melodies are the most important thing. I work on those the hardest.” This is apparent in several instances on All I Was, most notably in the two tracks that bracket the album’s first single, The Things I’ve Seen and New Way Out. Those two songs mark a change of pace from the rest of the album, which is mostly fast-paced and heavier than anything one would hear on a Creed or Alter Bridge record. Both of these songs slow the pace down, and have a steady, walking tempo reminiscent of late-90s Creed.
The album also has plenty of metal moments as well, especially in the opening riff of Leave it Alone, and combined with megaphone vocal effects in So You’re Afraid. It is in these moments that the album stumbles occasionally as well, most notably on Wish You Well, which is (thankfully) the only song that features headache drums for any extended period. The title track also has some awkward transitions that feel like Tremonti tried to stitch together some licks he’d written separately and they just didn’t fit together with any sort of cohesion.
Lyrically, the album is rather dark all the way through, though thankfully shorn of the angst and drama of many emo and metal bands. The lyrics speak of various themes, including intolerant people (The Things I’ve Seen), stupidity and greed that tear a person apart (Brains), and corrosive hate and fear (You Waste Your Time). The latter track is the album’s high point, and it is easy to see why this was chosen for a first single. The riff is very catchy and easy to get stuck in your head, and the song features one of the better solos on the record (though, if you want to hear a really awesome solo, check out Giving Up, which is both nuanced and frenetic at different points).
In sum, All I Was stands out as a very solid first effort from Tremonti, from top to bottom. When guitarists usually set out to record a full solo album, their vocals and lyrics will sometimes suffer, and the songwriting will fall into a predictable intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-outro-end pattern. All I Was mixes it up enough that the album stays interesting all the way through, though I believe it could’ve used a little more variety. Tremonti’s voice also may sound a bit different to you when you first hear it, as there is a lot more “studio magic” put on it than in his previous efforts singing backing vocals for Creed and Alter Bridge. His range isn’t astounding and his voice is sometimes drowned out by the instruments, but it’s still a good record. I’d give it a 9/10, and would definitely recommend any post-grunge hard rock fans buy it and give it a listen.