Mark Tremonti is perhaps one of the most talented guitarists in mainstream popular rock today. His work with Creed sold millions upon millions of albums and Alter Bridge has received critical acclaim with each album. So it was only a matter of time before the guitarist would strike out and release his own solo effort. Enter All I Was, his first solo album released under the moniker Tremonti, an album that Tremonti wanted to use to show his love and appreciate for metal. Does this album bring the goods or has the mainstream watered Tremonti down? Read on for the answer.
The album opens with “Leave It Alone”, which is a mid-tempo song that fully demonstrates what the album will bring. From huge guitar riffs to open verses, from a melodic bridge to a blistering guitar solo, this track is a perfect representation of what the album will offer over the course of its 12 tracks.
The problem is that, for as solid as each of these tracks are, they are nothing you haven’t heard before. It’s radio friendly hard rock that borders on mild metal and it’s just like what has been on the airwaves for the past few years. Admittedly, it’s at the higher tier of radio offerings, but that doesn’t change the fact that each song feels incredibly familiar, as though it’s already been done.
And this is the ultimate handicap against All I Was, this sense of familiarity. Did Mark Tremonti do something different from his normal offerings? Perhaps. But it wasn’t different enough to feel like he left his comfort zone in any way. It didn’t take much of a stretch to imagine either Scott Stapp or Myles Kennedy doing the vocals instead of Tremonti.
From a production standpoint, the album sounds perfectly fine. It’s very well put together and sounds great. But the tones of the instruments are so generic and overused that it only adds to that damned familiarity I mentioned earlier. “Wish You Well” really suffers from this as it has all the possibilities of being a fantastic speed metal track had the guitars only sounded a bit more biting and fierce and not so safe.
Still, there are some moments that are genuinely fascinating. For instance, the bridge of “Proof” has a beautiful classical, almost medieval twist to it. It’s moments like these that convince me that, with a more adventurous production team, Mark Tremonti could come out with an album that truly breaks his own rules and astounds listeners, challenging them the whole way through.
The Final Word: Tremonti’s All I Was is nearly 50 minutes of heavy, intense hard rock/metal that you’ve heard before and is pretty forgettable. If this type of music is your cup of tea, this is a required album for the year. For everyone else, a cursory listen should be enough to satisfy your curiosity.