The Ides of March: Does the Alter Bridge/Slash frontman have enough writing chops on his own?

Myles Kennedy feels like he has been one of the faces of rock music for the last decade or so now. Being the frontman of not one but two massive, arena-filling rock bands in Alter Bridge and Slash and the Conspirators, he has been involved in some of the best music of the millennium and is maybe the second most recognisable modern frontman alongside his other duel-banded friend, Corey Taylor. Much like Taylor too, Myles has branched out away from his bandmates of the last couple of years into solo work. However, unlike Corey’s bombastic and controversial release (including everything from rap to jazz metal), The Ides of March seems a lot more understated and closer to the sort of thing he has written in previous projects, from what I could tell from the single I heard. I’ve been a big fan of almost all of the man’s work for years now, but I wasn’t too into his acoustic solo album he put out not long back. However, I am still excited to hear this as there are few better rock guitarists around today. Let’s get into it!

‘Get Along’ opens on a pretty nice guitar riff, the repeating groans and breaths from Myles in the background being an odd but surprisingly fitting touch. It drops down into a more stripped-back verse, focusing on the vocals, drums, and a beautiful acoustic guitar. It builds slowly through a pretty catchy pre before the opening riff comes back to make up the chorus; one line being repeated over making for some catchy vocals, as do the little melodies between the lines. We get a short bridge that leads into a VERY bluesy guitar solo, and I am all for it. It was a little short but both technical and slower, making for a damn good solo. Coming out of the solo it drops down again into a stripped back pre, building up perfectly into a final chorus. It’s a double one, the second half having a lead guitar line that follows the vocal melody, adding some awesome depth to the track. I loved this. It was a fantastic, rocky yet radio-friendly way to open up the album, and it easily made the playlist!

‘A Thousand Words’ starts off slower and more acoustic-y than the previous song, but it’s an awesome little chord progression. It stays fairly light through the light, but some awesome little lead guitar harmonies ring through beneath Myles’ impressive vocals. This even reminds me of one of the slower tracks from Corey’s solo album too, Black Eyes Blue. I think they just have a couple of similar chords hidden in there. Another catchy, great pre leads us to a surprisingly slower chorus. It’s still a great chorus, the lyrics catchy and the vocal melody even having hints of more recent Iron Maiden, but it always feels weird to me when a slow song goes from a faster verse into a slower, more stripped-back chorus. It always feels like it should be the other way around. The second chorus leads into a fantastic bridge, it if anything sounding bigger and catchier than the choruses. It then gives way to another fantastic guitar solo, Myles really getting to show off his impressive chops, something he doesn’t get to do a lot. A final chorus finishes things off. This was another great song, not quite as good as the previous one but still massively enjoyable.

The lead single, and the one I have heard previously, ’In Stride’, is up next. It opens pretty hard and an amazing slide guitar riff, my favourite thing on the album so far. The verse stays pretty quick and heavy; a chuggy rhythm guitar and some more occasional sliding behind the vocals. A lot of this album so far has reminded me of the Apocalyptic Love album he did with Slash, my favourite album by their duo, it has a lot of the same feel and vocals. It has the most rock-feeling chorus of the songs so far, the vocals soaring over the top of huge distorted guitar chords. It reminds me a little of an Inglorious song, actually, but one I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s catchy as hell, the best chorus so far. We get another bridge but surprisingly (disappointingly) no solo this time. However, the bridge has plenty of the slide guitar riff again and some great low vocals from Myles, something we don’t get nearly enough of these days. It briefly drops down for the start of the final chorus before quickly building back to a big, hard crescendo. I’ve loved this song since I first heard it a couple of weeks ago and have listened to it a lot, so it easily made the playlist!

The album’s title track is the longest song on the album by far, clocking in at over 7:30 minutes long, and the fact that it starts acoustic, slow and quiet, means we’re either in for some epicness or a boring nearly 10 minutes. The riff itself gives me pretty heavy Stairway vibes, but Myles’ lower vocals give off a much more atmospheric vibe than Robert Plant’s higher ones, in my opinion. It picks up around 45 seconds in, to my surprise, a great distorted guitar riff kicking in, accompanied by some great drum work. It somehow reminds me even more of Led Zep. Strangely, though, the song almost immediately drops back down into acoustic guitar for the verse, the only real difference being a simple, stripped-back drumbeat behind it. It sounds almost Italian to me, I don’t know why. The chorus stays a little lower but the riff does come back in at the end of it, only to end soon after for the next verse. The chorus itself is catchy vocally still, but it still feels odd, like the rest of the song. Every time it feels like we’re getting to the heavier epic part, it peters off pretty quickly into slower, quieter stuff. However, I do have to commend the solo, it fits the song perfectly and was AMAZING. Slow, full of emotion, and pretty long this time, this may be one of my favourite solos by him. He does so well when the music is stripped back and slower, just look at Blackbird. It isn’t quite as good as that one, but it’s up there. The song gets almost prog in the last couple of minutes, it going into a completely different part for another great part of vocals and another fantastic, faster guitar solo. This part is pretty good but then a quiet outro finishes it off. This was a bit of a bloated mess, in my opinion, and the worst song on the album so far. I see what they were trying to do and at times I enjoyed it, but it was too long and complicated.

‘Wake Me When it’s Over’ opens on a pretty interesting guitar riff, one that wouldn’t sound on a modern Foo Fighters album. It drops down a little for the verse but stays quick and fairly heavy. It builds into a huge chorus, catchy and backed by the great intro riff again. There isn’t too much I can find to say about this song, it’s just a good straight-up rock song. It reminds me a little of the Slash song Driving Rain, so if you liked that you’d probably like this too!

‘Love Rain Down’ starts slow again, but a little more entertainingly than the title track, in my opinion. It stays slow throughout too, something I prefer to jumping about too much. The slide into the solo out of the first chorus was fantastic, and the lead work adds a lot of depth to an otherwise simpler song. Again, there isn’t much I can say about this one. The outro was interesting as it felt like it was about to build up and drop at any minute, but instead just kept going at the same steady pace before finishing. I preferred this to the previous song, it was pretty good!

Some more awesome slide guitar opens ’Tell it Like it is’. The riff seems familiar but I have no idea why. The clapping behind the intro vocals made them even more catchy, something I definitely want to hear live already. It stays stripped back and simple through the choruses, making it a little hard to tell which part is which, but it’s all hugely catchy and enjoyable. We get a surprisingly simple guitar solo after the second chorus, but it fits in with the straightforward, almost Status Quo-like style of the song. We get an awesome verse after the solo of just Myles’ vocals and some clapping, another reason why I want to see this live so bad, the crowd interaction for it would be great. The rest of the song is just as fantastic as the first half; it may even be my favourite song on the album, or at least up there behind Stride. Playlisted!

Both ’Moonshot’ and ’Wanderlust Begins’ are two more good songs, but also two slower ones. Those who have followed my reviews over the last year or so will know that I have absolutely nothing against slower songs, but when they comprise over half of the album, I find myself getting a little bored. Especially when there are better slower songs on the same album, such as Love Rain Down. It just feels like more of Year of the Tiger again, and that album bored me. The lyrics in both were pretty good, though. Also, the high vocal harmonies in the latter song are damn impressive, and I’m pretty sure they’re also done by Myles.

‘Sifting Through the Fire’ picks up the pace a little again, at least opening on electric guitar. It gets back to the acoustic sort of feel during the verses, but there is still some pace and bounce to it which I appreciate, it’s not ALL slow stuff. The chorus is pretty enjoyable, too. It’s not quite hard rock like I was hoping for from the intro, but it’s better than another moody song. The solo is pretty good, but way too short again. It’s another fantastic chorus, one of the best on the album. I also think it would make fantastic background music, as it is so relaxed for the most part; an album to throw on if you just want to relax and not concentrate too hard on what’s going on in it.

The final track on the album, ’Worried Mind’, is another track that suffers a little in my mind due to the slow start. However, the sliding guitars and overall bluesy feel to it was awesome. This one is VERY slow though, something I still don’t think is needed for a final song on an album. Myles’ vocals are beautiful over the top of the minimalistic instrumentation though, and I honestly think that if this was on a faster album overall, I’d have enjoyed it a whole lot more. The blues solo in the middle was also fantastic, the simplistic arrangement continuing throughout and giving it an ever so slight jazz feel to it too. The more this went on, the more I enjoyed it. It builds up more and more throughout, the final chorus being incredible and huge. Myles’ higher vocals accompanied by more drums and distorted guitars gave it a real epic feel to it, a fitting conclusion. It felt like I was down in New Orleans or something, and I loved it. I think it may even make the playlist!

Overall: This was a lot better than I anticipated, and a lot more like what I wanted Year of the Tiger to have been. It is, for the most part, completely different than everything else Myles usually works on, and I think that benefitted it a lot. I love Tremonti, but at times it does just feel like tracks that could have been on an Alter Bridge album. Meanwhile, Myles is out here going to his blues and acoustic roots, knocking it out of the park with a handful of fantastic songs that I’ll have stuck in my head for days to come. Don’t get me wrong, not all of it was incredible, there was definitely the classic mid-to-late-album lull, but overall, there was a lot more good than bad. This is an album I’ll definitely be revisiting regularly!

Score: 8/10

Did you enjoy our review? Why don’t you check out which songs made our official Spotify playlist from other albums here?

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