To objectively review Tremonti's Cauterize outside of the influence of the Mark Tremonti/Alter Bridge/Creed superfan bubble I live in is a task I'm not really equipped for, but I'll give it a go.
A little history lesson first, for those of you who don't identify as "Tremonsters:" Mark Tremonti was the lead guitarist for Creed. (you remember Creed, right? Of course you do)
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Mark and the non-Stapp members of Creed went on to form Alter Bridge with Myles Kennedy. In his own band, Tremonti is joined by Eric Friedman, (guitar, backing vocals) Garrett Whitlock, (drums) and Wolfgang Van Halen (bass, backing vocals).
Tremonti released All I Was in 2012. All I Was is full of memorable riffs, catchy melodies, and solid songs. It offered a peek at the heavier, metal music Mark was apparently longing to make.
But Cauterize is a much more complex and dynamic collection.
I've had Cauterize in my car and on my iPod for a week now, and I am falling more and more in love with it each time I listen. Michael "Elvis" Baskette (AB's Fortress, Slash's latest...countless others) did an excellent job producing and mixing this beast. These guys have made an album that appeals to those who need to keep it metal--fast and loud and heavy without scaring away fans of hooks and melodies and ear candy.
The first track on Cauterize, "Radical Change," begins with a full-on guitar assault. Just take a Tylenol--you're going to have an ache from banging your head. It's very obvious from the beginning of Cauterize, Mark Tremonti has definitely grown as a singer. In both confidence and skill. He's taking more chances as a frontman. Another step up from All I Was: Van Halen and Friedman add depth to the songs with their backing vocals. Garrett Whitlock's drumming absolutely kills on Cauterize. He is getting some attention on the festival circuit, and will definitely be a musician to watch.
Cauterize continues with the ominous "Flying Monkeys," the rocking-yet-catchy title track, and then brings that speed metal punch back with the brutal "Arm Yourself." The first single from Cauterize, "Another Heart" seems like a better-than-average radio rock song...until the bridge. That bridge is completely ridiculous and awesome. Behold:
With the exception of "Tie The Noose," which displays a harder, Metallica-equse, mood, there is only one way to describe the last half of Cauterize. It's not even a real word, (because "Metallica-esque" totally is) but it's all I have: Alter Bridge-y. If Myles Kennedy was singing "Fall Again," "Sympathy," or "Providence," they'd fit in just fine on an Alter Bridge album.
I definitely don't think this is a bad thing. If you don't have softer stuff in the mix, the brutal songs lose their punch.
Hopefully, Cauterize will help Tremonti gain some fans beyond the diehards who already love him. This band is legit. It's not a thrown-together side project. I hope people listen, without preconceived notions about what "that guy from Creed" might sound like.
If you dig Cauterize, there are ten more songs, recorded during the same sessions, set to be released soon on another full-length Tremonti album called Dust.
Want to listen to Cauterize?
Preview the album on Amazon.