Mark Tremonti is a guitarist best known for his six-stringed contribution to the sonic stew of the bands CREED and ALTER BRIDGE, though “contribution” in this context does sound like an understatement, as he was a founding member of both bands and his explosive guitarism has certainly laced many a song of these hard-rock juggernauts with a distinct signature touch. His prolific guitar-playing and punchy hard rock vocals shine through in his solo-endeavor as well: TREMONTI. Following the band’s conceptual 2018 opus, “A Dying Machine,” they released their fifth studio offering, “Marching In Time,” on September 24th, 2021, via Napalm Records. The new album is a class-A proof of concept that, even after having been tapped pretty hard for the past… eh, 40 years, hard-rock is a music vein that still has the potential to create resonance beyond the confines of murky garages and sweaty rock venues where the clichéd power-chord progression E-A-D echoes ad infinitum. It is not about the clichés themselves, but how you use them. If the truth is said, the new TREMONTI outing is not exactly spinning into unpredictable new directions, but it implements the age-old formulas of hard-rock exceptionally well. Yes, you may have heard this a million times over already, yet the music sounds fresh somehow. I reckon it boils down to the raw power of the delivery: the attitude. Jazz legend Miles Davis put it rather eloquently, “The note is only twenty percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is eighty percent.” I beg to agree.
The album does not give the listener any slack upfront. It opens with the subtly thrash-induced, uptempo riff-o-rama of a track, “A World Away.” The hard-rocking power-riffs are counterbalanced with the occasional thrash assault, laying out the blueprint for the whole album, really. At its most pop-tinged and vintage hard-rock, the album sounds almost like something you would have listened to while cruising down the Santa Monica Boulevard, say, in 1984 – you know, wearing the pastel-shaded and embroidered Lacoste polo-shirt and RayBan Wayfarer sunglasses. The next thing you know, the song kicks you in the groin with a machine-gun riff that pushes you down the memory lane back to the heydays of metal-thrashing madness. Unlike so many other bands that revisit the hard-rock days of yonder, TREMONTI embraces the hard-rock aesthetics without irony. They say it like they really mean it – and it is beautiful.
For a purist thrasher, the album is probably infested with one too many catchy choruses. In fact, most of them are genuine earworms. Of course, it helps with the powerful delivery that Mark Tremonti has such a golden hard rock voice. It is slightly reminiscent of his bandmate, Myles Kennedy, from ALTER BRIDGE. You cannot really go wrong with a voice like that. Regardless of the fact that the lyrics deal with dismal themes such as loss and heartbreak, the delivery still projects a somewhat positive, empowering vibe on the album as a whole. Maybe it also stems from the fact that all the songs are rather up-tempo-ish. There are no delicate love ballads or funeral marching on this album, so this outing makes for a perfect soundtrack for a gym workout or a casual run in the woods. Even the slower numbers have a decent amount of punch in them.
If I was to pick the one song that somehow stands out in this rather coherent selection of killer songs, my song of choice would be the title track, closing the album and brushing up against the 8-minute mark. You do not see lengthy epics such as this on the stereotypical hard-rock offering. The song is about staying on the path, even though the world around is falling apart. It is a message that bears an uncanny relevance at this very moment. In terms of music, the song is crafted with meticulous care to drive the point home unequivocally. I have a feeling that I just might have to add every song on this album to my Spotify playlist – and better yet, being such an anally retentive music junkie, now that the album is out already, I think I need to pay the record shop a visit ASAP. It is hard to imagine a better way to spend a casual Saturday evening than by listening to TREMONTI with a cold glass of craft beer. Oh, boy – does this album kick some serious ass!
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- A World Away
- Now And Forever
- If Not For You
- Thrown Further
- Let That Be Us
- The Last One Of Us
- In One Piece
- Under The Sun
- Not Afraid To Lose
- Would You Kill
- Marching In Time
Mark Tremonti – Vocals, guitars
Eric Friedmann – Guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Ryan Bennett – Drums, percussion
Tanner Keegan – Bass, backing vocals