Like clockwork, Alter Bridge return every three years with a new collection of reliably solid hard rock tunes. Only this time, we could have forgiven the band for skipping 2013, in the wake of Mark Tremonti's successful solo album and tour, Myles Kennedy's album/tour with Slash, and the on again/off again status of Creed. It's a small miracle, then, that Fortress is as good as it is, when the band could have phoned this one in. Instead, they continue to push their boundaries ever so slightly, resulting in tracks like "Cry Of Achilles," "Calm The Fire" and "Waters Rising," which sound fresh and inspired. High marks also to the darkly melodic "Farther Than The Sun," and the uplifting and infectious "All Ends Well." Unlike 2010's AB III, an otherwise good album that was ultimately diluted by a handful of unmemorable tunes, Fortress is well-paced and, despite its hour-plus runtime, never feels overstuffed.
Best cuts: "Calm The Fire," "Waters Rising," "All Ends Well"