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Whether your liked Creed or not is beside the point when looking at the former-side-project-turned-major-act AlterBridge. Sure the band is 75% former members of the Wind-Up based faithful rock group (Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips) but the binding ways of Scott Stapp’s vocals yield to former Mayfield Four frontman Myles Kennedy creating one of the ever popular “supergroups.”; Yet, AlterBridge isn’t it merely for the name, they’re in it for the art, and the band’s second release successfully keeps the sophomore slump at bay while crafting a fine, hard rock album worthy of your purchase.

Alter Bridge’s 2004 debut, One Day Remains, played it a little too safe to with a generic, almost Creed-like sound that didn’t do anything overly ambitions, but didn’t stick around in fans minds too long after the singles disappeared from the radio. The disc did achieve gold status, but was no where near the multi-platinum success Creed was able to produce. Its hard to talk about the band without mentioning their former work, but with Blackbird, the four-some really makes a name for themselves journeying farther and farther into the mainstream (with musical spots in CSI: Miami promos) while still preserving that garage band mentality of personally written songs with a hard, non-conforming edge.

Blackbirds’ lead single “Rise Today,”; released way back in July, really solidifies the sound the band was aiming for with this newest release. All 13 tracks produce a hard edge, with infectious guitars and Kennedy’s recognizable, yet soothing voice backed by great writing. The biggest different between Remains and Blackbird is the inclusion of Kennedy in the songwriting process, which successfully breaks the mold formed by member’s former band and gives a more unique and distinctive sound.

Guitarist Mark Tremonti was quoted as saying: “It’s a natural evolution after three years of working together. We knew Myles was an amazing singer, that’s why we hired him. What we found out when we toured the first record was that he’s also an incredibly gifted guitar player and songwriter, as well as a vocalist. It would have been a crime not to utilize all that talent. We wanted to use every weapon we had in our arsenal for this album”; (Source: Wikipedia). The evidence is clearly displayed throughout the album as the continuous flow from track to track creates a cohesive, engaging experience.

AlterBridge has successfully escaped the shadow of Creed by producing a record that both stands on its own and above the work of the Stapp fronted quartet. The album starts off hard and never lets up through its near hour runtime with the meat lying in the middle, rather than being front loaded. Fans of the band should be relieved to find out that the sound is still there, but behind that is a commendable effort to stand out as one of hard rock’s leading bands taking more chances and reaping the benefits. Even the radio-ready lead single strives to break the mold and makes Blackbird a must purchase for any hard rock fans this holiday season.