Fans have certainly been looking forward to Alter Bridge‘s latest album, The Last Hero. That’s evidenced by the disc's runaway victory in Loudwire’s poll to become the October 2016 Release of the Month.

It’s also Alter Bridge's fifth studio album, one more than guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips’ band Creed released.

The disc utilizes influences from both Alter Bridge’s early days and their more recent material, and injects some new things into the mix as well, such as alternate tunings and recording on a seven-string guitar for the first time.

Frontman Myles Kennedy says, “We weren’t afraid to travel certain roads we might’ve been hesitant to venture down on the last two albums. As a result, some of the songs are more uplifting and melodic. There was certainly a psychological shift. We embraced the past. You hear elements of each record throughout our history.”

The Last Hero kicks off with “Show Me a Leader,” which takes a while to kick in but soon displays a sing-along chorus, beefy riffs and a shredding solo. They amp up the heaviness on “The Other Side,” while “My Champion” is inspirational and anthemic with hooks that won’t quit.

Tremonti’s guitar prowess is well known, as are Kennedy’s vocal chops. What you may not know is that Kennedy is a skilled guitarist, as well. “This is the first record where Myles planned out his solos beforehand,” Tremonti reveals. “In the past, he would wing it with this magical, improvisational touch. What he did is amazing. Me and Slash have both said he’s the best guitar player in our bands.”

This is a front-loaded album with the strongest songs on the first half. There’s a gem or two on the latter half, such as the power ballad “You Will Be Remembered” that pays tribute to those who serve their country and community and the closing title track, a nearly seven minute song that flows from a mid-tempo rocker to a more intense urgent section before ending with a flourish.

The band has worked with producer Michael “Elvis" Baskette (Trivium, Chevelle) for the past few albums (he also produced all of the Tremonti albums), and he’s back for The Last Hero. He delivers a balanced production that gives plenty of volume to Marshall and Phillips, adds enough atmosphere to make things interesting, and unleashes the guitars.

Most of Alter Bridge’s albums have clocked in at more than an hour, and The Last Hero is their longest one yet. Cutting a song or two may have been beneficial, but even the tracks that may not stand out among the others are redeemed by the musicianship and Kennedy’s potent singing.

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