One Day Remains
- Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 1 Jan
"There's a face I put on all my life: the face of an angel/But I look in the mirror only to find the face of a stranger/And with all I've taken I hunger for more 'cause I'm selfish/And all I'm left with is a crown of thorns and I'm helpless." — from "Find the Real"
Though fans of Creed might disagree, it was probably for the best that the grungy pop-metal trio decided to disband in 2004. According to ex-frontman Scott Stapp, the break-up was amicable, as the members felt the band was more or less played out, choosing to pursue new artistic endeavors. But has Creed really called it quits? Stapp may have indicated a willingness to reunite with his bandmates someday, but Creed essentially remains intact as Alter Bridge. Guitarist Mark Tremonti and drummer Scott Phillips have re-teamed with Creed's original bassist Brian Marshall, adding vocalist Myles Kennedy (formerly of Mayfield Four) to their ranks.
Despite the carryover in roster, what's particularly striking about Alter Bridge is its departure from the Creed sound, primarily due to the absence of Stapp's throaty vocal presence and identity. Kennedy, in contrast, sounds more like Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave. The rest of Creed, I mean Alter Bridge, seem inspired by this, playing more like their early '90s grunge-metal roots than ever before, recalling classic Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Tremonti's guitars are still heavy, yet strangely less bombastic, revealing a stronger guitarist than most critics are willing to admit. While Alter Bridge isn't quite as radio friendly as Creed was, some would say they're a better rock band than their former incarnation, not to mention the slew of neo-grunge soundalikes.
Of course, a good chunk of Creed's fanbase also connected with the band because of their spiritually influenced lyrics. Since Stapp seemed to be the only one even slightly outspoken about his Christian beliefs, it might surprise some to learn that Alter Bridge remains nearly as soul-searching on their debut, One Day Remains. God is thanked a couple of times in the liner notes, suggesting that at least a couple of the band members maintain some kind of faith.
Tremonti wrote the majority of the material, with Kennedy co-writing the lyrics for half of them. In a recent interview with AZCentral.com, the new vocalist is vague about the band's beliefs and inspirations: "It's just whatever I'm feeling that day. The key as a songwriter is to evoke emotion, ultimately, and just to extract that out of yourself … This band, it's more about the human condition and what it's like to live in this day and age."
There are nevertheless spiritual musings aplenty to be found on One Day Remains. "Find the Real," cited above, is an emotionally worded song of brokenness and contrition—despite the Christ imagery, the only thing missing is the good news of his forgiveness. It's a common theme on the album, also heard in the driving rock of "Metalingus" and in the longing for peace and salvation heard in "Shed My Skin." The melancholic ballad "Burn It Down" could be viewed as making a radical life change for the better, though the line "Don't feel I have any right to pray" shows a struggle in coping with grace. And "Watch Your Words" seems to borrow from the book of James in its admonition of the tongue and the hatred it can deliver: "To truly see well you must have faith/Oh the righteous they can't wait/A saving grace, that we all know/Let us pray, let us hold on."
Granted, Alter Bridge's songs sometimes border on a more humanistic faith perspective. "One Day Remains" mentions having faith and questioning "the strength inside," which makes you wonder where exactly Kennedy and Tremonti place their hope. "The End Is Here" similarly declares, "For the rest of my life, I will find the answers that were always here." Yet while the melodic radio single "Open Your Eyes" is an open-ended anthem of unity, who's to say that the song can't be about oneness in Christ?
Wind-Up Records has been quick to state that Alter Bridge is not a Christian band, and indeed they come just short of pointing to the cross or any specific faith. There's still a lot here for Christians to relate to and build upon, making Alter Bridge the archetypal seeker band, focusing on deeper issues of the soul than most.