Ahhh the weird and twisted world of solo debut albums. Seldom can you name a popular music act in which one of its members didn’t attempt a solo career, whether under amicable circumstances or hail-fire-and brimstone band breakups.
Many solo acts have been ultra successful. The Eagles drummer Don Henley is one of the ones that come to mind. Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda’s rap group Fort Minor is another. Some…not so much. Creed’s Scott Stapp came out with a solo album that was as generic as Wal-Mart brand sugar.
Ironically the very solo effort we delve into today is by Stapp’s fellow bandmember Mark Tremonti. Tremonti, already recognized as one of hard rock’s best guitarists of all time, has had a stellar career cementing the bands Creed and Alter Bridge. On Creed’s first three albums, Tremonti showed his ability on lead guitar, but always had to ease it back because his musical inclinations were heavier than the mainstream sound Creed was gunning for. Once in Alter Bridge, he opened it up some more, but couldn’t go full tilt still. It’s 2012, and both Creed and Alter Bridge are co-existing, and Tremonti decided to go all out with a debut effort of his own. Enter “All I Was.” Taking both the lead guitarist and vocalist roles, Tremonti really gets to strut his stuff finally.
When you listen to this album, it’s like a smash-up of all that is right with modern metal music. You can hear all the subtle nuances that sound like some of metal’s best acts. It’s like Tremonti threw Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, and Slipknot all in a blender, cranked the amp to 10 and blended it all together while throwing his own guitar style into the mix. Another thing you can tell while listening to this album…is why Creed and Alter Bridge are such successful bands. All the songs on this CD were written and composed by Tremonti, so you get to hear the driving force behind each band’s sound.
The album opener, “Leave It Alone,” treads slightly familiar territory, sounding like it belongs on an Alter Bridge album. Heavy throughout, it only hints at the sheer awesomeness to come on this CD. Having a Slash moment in the middle of the song where Tremonti rips into a monumental guitar solo, the song is a nice preview of what’s to come.
The next track, “So You’re Afraid,” rips from the start. A constant throughout the album is Tremonti’s terrific vocal work. He has a harrowing voice that you really can’t compare to anyone else. Never reaching a high pitch, his voice soars throughout the chorus at a high level, but is kind to the eardrums of the listener.
Third on the CD, “Wish You Well,” is an up-tempo almost speed metal offering. Here is where we delve into Avenged Sevenfold territory, as it sounds similiar to some of their work, especially the drumbeats. A sarcastic tune about wishing someone you really don’t care for well, Tremonti really amps it up towards the end.
Obviously the favorite track on the album for zombies everywhere, the next tune “Brains” is one of the standout songs on the album. The opening guitar and drums sound Slipknot-esque, and yes this album really can get that heavy.
After a pounding opening, the chorus echoes into territory that can be called Tremonti’s own. An absolute gem.
Next up…is one of the most beautiful pieces of modern rock music I have ever heard. Mark Tremonti definitely saved his best musical and songwriting talent for this album. Getting back to where I said that you can hear who is behind Creed’s success, this track is the example I was referring to. I have no way of knowing how long Tremonti has had this song, “The Things I’ve Seen” up his sleeve, but I can assure you that Creed only wishes they had a song this good. “The Things I’ve Seen” sounds like the Creed superhit that never saw the light of day. Opening with a clean guitar that sounds right out of Human Clay, Tremonti’s vocals shine next to both the clean and amped guitars that crash through the entire song.
The debut single off the album,”You Waste Your Time” comes roaring next. This song is 100% Tremonti, as it sounds nothing like his other bands. “You Waste Your Time” crushes the eardrums from start to finish, as Tremonti struts into another guitar solo that only cements him as one of rock music’s greats.
The seventh song, “New Way Out” is another song that drifts into Creed territory. Any fan of Creed or Alter Bridge will eat this song up.
”Giving Up” is an eardrum crusher from start to finish. Alternating high and low tone guitar riffs, Tremonti really pushes the sonic envelope with this tune.
Next is “Proof.” For me, it doesn’t sound all that different from the previous two songs. It follows the same song structure, and although I’m not complaining, it gets a little repetitive here.
The album namesake “All I Was” is up next. For as much as “The Things I’ve Seen” was Creed at its best sound, this song is Alter Bridge. It’s neat to hear how a musician can affect how a band sounds, and it becomes clear who the force behind Alter Bridge is here.
Track 11, “Doesn’t Matter” goes back to pure Tremonti, as it drifts through wall after wall of guitar riffs and solos.
The closing tune, “Decay” is perhaps my personal favorite off the entire album. Right now it’s a toss-up between this and “The Things I’ve Seen.” Tremonti really down-tunes the guitar on this one, as “Decay” starts off with a dark heavy rumble that sounds magnificent. “Face it, all we had we wasted, something like decay.” Trust me, this album doesn’t decay, and should be remembered for a long time to come.
So there we have it. A truly remarkable solo effort from perhaps the best hard rock musician of our generation. I sincerely hope Mark Tremonti does another solo album someday as he continues his work with Creed and Alter Bridge. This album is a rock masterpiece, and any fan should pick this CD up as soon as possible.
The Things I’ve Seen
You Waste Your Time
5 out of 5.