Tremonti – A Dying Machine

By Sam Craddock-Camp

Over the course of the last two decades, Mark Tremonti has created no less than thirteen albums. His talent as a songwriter and guitarist is without question, and his work with both Creed and Alter Bridge has put him at the top of the pile of contemporary rock guitarists.

With his solo venture, Tremonti has stripped away the blues and country influence that Myles Kennedy utilised, and has focused on his signature breakneck machine-gun riffs. His vocal ability has increased exponentially over his last three albums and he is now very much an accomplished singer in his own right.

On “A Dying Machine”, Tremonti’s fourth solo record, he has honed and perfected his sound to create an excellent body of work that will please both die-hard fans and new listeners. It’s the first time in his career that he has attempted a concept record, and it’s been designed as the soundtrack to the forthcoming novel of the same name, co-written by sci-fi author John Shirley (Bioshock: Rapture, Borderlands: The Fallen).

Opener “Bringer of War” is a storming mission statement that builds with military precision. His use of darker melodies and more ambitious chord progressions helps to build the world in which the record lives. Title track “A Dying Machine” is up there with Tremonti’s finest work. The six minute epic gives the concept of humanity within artificial intelligence room to flourish, with the extended runtime allowing him to explore alternative song structures.

The album eventually starts to settle into a groove, with tracks falling into one of two camps: storming, relentless riffage with an arena rock chorus, or darker, more ethereal explorations of typical rock balladry. With the former, tracks such as “The Day When Legions Burned” and the wonderfully uplifting “Take You With Me” are spectacular, and easily stand beside his finest accomplishments on Alter Bridge’s “Blackbird”. The latter has its moments with “As The Silence Becomes Me”, but songs such as “Traipse” lack the emotional punch that permeates the rest of the album.

Tremonti has always been one of the kings of modern popular guitar, and his performance throughout the album is yet another masterclass in thunderous riffs and screaming solos. Concept albums are always particularly tricky, and not every artist who attempts one is as capable as Coheed and Cambria, but Tremonti has played to his strengths and has certainly made the most of his first foray into narrative songwriting. Loaded with brilliant material that would explode in a live setting, “A Dying Machine” is another stellar record by one of the best in the game.

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