Album Review: Tremonti 'All I Was' Just Gets It

I have to say, when friends — most of whom are educated music fans and musicians — heard I was reviewing Mark Tremonti's latest solo effort, All I Was, reactions were virtually identical across the board: "The guy from Creed?" followed by a collective roll of the eyes.

Having been familiar with Tremonti's abilities not only as a guitarist, but also a songwriter, I swiftly informed them that he was a true guitar shredder. One of us. One of the figurative good guys. As musicians, we all like to believe our favorite bands are the truest form of art and tend to shun certain other bands in an effort to weed out those we deem imitators and fakes. An adult version of our exclusive childhood clubs in a sense.

But even I had my doubts. Was I lying to myself? Had I tried convince those around me that Tremonti could be our era's version of the guitar heroes of yesteryears?

After a single listen, front to back, all of my questions and concerns were answered: Tremonti took a brave step forward out of the shadows of Creed and Alter Bridge; a shadow which fans have come to know so well. In doing so, he simply nailed it, both vocally and as a guitarist. After just a few minutes of immersing yourself in Tremonti's heavy riffs and blazing solos, you realize "he gets it!"

All I Was is the debut solo album by Tremonti was produced by Michael "Elvis" Baskette and released on July 17 by FRET12 Records. Tremonti handles vocal and lead guitar duties and is backed by rhythm guitarist and bassist Eric Friedman and drummer Garrett Whitlock who are accomplished players in their own rights.

All I Was opens up with the track "Leave it Alone", which combines a well-written blend of mid-tempo heavy riffs and catchy hooks, capped off by melodic solo over a clean rhythm.

Right off the bat, "So You're Afraid" bursts out of the gates with a chugging intro in the vain of Trivium before transitioning into a verse that stands as one of the vocal highlights of the album.

Arguably the heaviest cut on the record, "Wish You Well" never gives you a chance to catch your breath and grows in complexity with each passing minute. Drummer Garrett Whitlock really has a chance to display his chops on this track, even breaking into a series of blast beats

"Brains" opens up with an Alice in Chains-esque drudgy guitar line before blasting into a heavier-than-hell chugging section, brought back into a verse that will likely remind listeners of Layne Staley.

The album's fourth track, "The Things I've Seen", resembles Tremonti's previous work the closest with a slower-tempo, radio rock feel. Fans of Creed will certainly appreciate this track.

"You Waste Your Time", the first single from All I Was, is an overall accurate representation of the album as a whole. A mixture of brutal guitar riffs and tricky time changes a-la Dream Theater, followed by a straight-ahead rock oriented chorus that once again hints at the Alice in Chains influence.

"New Way Out", the standout ballad of the album, will undoubtedly sink its hooks into Creed fans who enjoyed the lighter rock pace of the band's notable singles.

The following track on the album, "Giving Up", kicks off with a slower, straight-forward metal riff that keeps things fairly tight and simple. The song continues in the style of modern hard rock with a melodic chorus that stands out above the rest.

"Proof" once again returns to the slower-tempo melodic rock style which focuses heavily on Tremonti's vocal performance, letting his guitar work take a rare back seat on the album.

The album's title track, "All I Was", is refreshing combination of vocal harmonies laid over a subtly heavy drum performance. Just when you think you have the song figured, Tremonti breaks into arguably his most blistering solo accented by a machine gun double bass drum to wrap up the track.

"Doesn't Matter" stands out as one of Tremonti's most memorable guitar riffs on the album — one of those licks you would take the time to pick your guitar up and learn. The pentatonic-based lead at the end sounds much like a combination of Slash and Zakk Wylde. 

The closing track of the album, "Decay", too references the radio hard rock style that paints much of the album, with just the right hint of guitar work. A down-tuned breakdown midway through the track breaks things up, throwing you once again for a loop just when you thought you had the song figured out. 

After giving All I Was a full listen from front to back, it becomes very clear that this a collection of tracks that has been building up inside of Tremonti just waiting for the right moment to be unleashed on unsuspecting listeners. Forget any opinions — for better or worse — that you may have formed about Creed or Alter Bridge and take this album in as a completely new experience. You'll be glad you did!

3 comments:

The only problem I had with the album is that they did not have any copies available when I went to pre order one. It is an amazing piece of work put together by a great musician.

August 16, 2012 at 4:22 PM comment-delete

I am a huge Alter Bridge fan, but i needed this. and so did Mark. This is the BEST album ive heard in my lifetime.....I totally recommend it!!

August 16, 2012 at 4:49 PM comment-delete

After being surprised with some really nice gifts during the course of opening several birthday presents, I thought to myself "Shit. I asked for the new Tremonti cd and all I got was this *@cking t-shirt." Much to my surprise, I actually received it. This time, as I opened the gift bag and saw the artwork that graces what could be "Album of the Year", I really was surprised. Upon my first listen, I heard the distortion slowlty fade in from "Leave it Alone", ear-splitting harmonics, thunderous double bass drums, and the haunting sound of the voice that carried Creed and Alter Bridge through some awesome back-up vocals and harmonies. And this is all in the first 51 seconds. I could go on and on about Garrett Whitlock delivering a metallic barrage of sonic napalm that rivals any drummer I've ever heard, or that Eric Friedman's guitar and backing vocals are the razor sharp parallels that never hinder, but only enhance Mark Tremonti's style on this cd, but I won't. I knew Tremonti was a force to be reckoned with long, long ago; no matter the band he was in his work is recognizable, diligent and thorough. Mainsteam naysayers, beware. If you're expecting another cd filled with ballads and catchy riffs with a few distorted guitar solos, you could be in for a rude awakening. This cd, if you have a love of metal with depth as I do, will not dissapoint. The unrelenting assault of "Wish You Well" is reminiscent of an ancient army pounding on a soon-to-fall castle wall. The release of "You Waste Your Time" speaks for itself, dramatic and completely aggressive. No fluff here. My personal favorite, title track "All I Was" is as diverse and as heavy as any release I've heard this year. "Elvis" Baskette, J. Moll, and Kevin Thomas hooked this thing up in the studio-the whole cd is beautifully engineered and mixed. I'm proud to say-this is what I've been waiting for. He did it justice. A big up to "Tremonti" and their entire crew on tour. Well done.

September 5, 2012 at 4:46 PM comment-delete

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