Ant-Man – 2015

“Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.”

This is going to be one of my rare all-positive reviews of a film because I absolutely loved it. Not a typical superhero film and I was afraid it was going to be similar to The Green Hornet which I think everyone can agree was just dreadful but this was just perfect. I have to compare it to that because Paul Rudd, like Seth Rogen, is typically seen in comedic roles and this is a massive change. I think the problem Seth Rogen had is that his comedy is usually a lot more vulgar and that change was a bit too drastic for him, whereas Paul Rudd just acted like a typical Paul Rudd character but in a superhero film. I’m not sure it should have worked but it definitely did.

It wasn’t just Paul Rudd though I thought the whole casting was pretty good. Michael Douglas is obviously good in everything, Evangeline Lilly isn’t exactly a household name but she was pretty good too, and Corey Stoll, again not somebody I particularly recognised but he was good. The whole concept of the film and Ant-Man as a superhero is ridiculously stupid but because of the casting choice it somehow works.

I can’t actually think of anything specific I liked about it though. I tend not to like recent superhero films because they’re over-hyped with a massive budget but this didn’t have either of those. The budget wasn’t small but it wasn’t like The Avengers, and other than die-hard superhero film fans nobody really cared about this film. I’ve never been one to love Oscar nominated films, I much prefer films that just go under the radar all year and that’s what this did, especially with all the other superhero films around these days.

I’m not sure how I feel about Ant-Man being in the new Captain America film coming out this year but that might just be because I don’t really like Captain America, but I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel to this as much as it’s a long way away and I’m always looking forward to seeing Paul Rudd in any upcoming comedy films he’s in. I would definitely recommend Ant-Man to anyone though and for anyone who didn’t enjoy it first time, I would say give it another go.

Alter Bridge – My Top 10 Songs

So it was the 12 year anniversary of Alter Bridge at the start of this week so it seems only fitting that I write a post about my favourite band. I can’t pinpoint the exact time when I first discovered Alter Bridge, it may have been when Edge started using Metalingus as his theme song in WWE but it feels like about 10 years or so. It sounds sad but I feel like they’ve been a vital part in my life. They have a song for every emotion so no matter what mood you’re in, you can always play a bit of Alter Bridge. My 10 will be mainly quite typical I think, but hopefully at least one will surprise you.

10. New Way to Live

One of the bonus tracks from Blackbird, “New Way to Live” goes pretty unnoticed to everyone except the die hard AB fans but it was one of my early favourites and continues to be so. Although if I were introducing someone to Alter Bridge I would go for the more obvious songs like “Addicted to Pain” or “Metalingus” I feel like this song has everything that summed up a good rock band in the late 2000’s and summed up the general tone of Alter Bridge at the time. It might not be an epic or the most memorable song they have written but it reminds me of the consistent excellence that AB provide across the board.

9. Slip to the Void

I struggled to get to grips with ABIII when it first came out so I found myself listening to this song a lot simply because it was the first track on the album. I feel like this is a forgotten song because it precedes “Isolation” which really kicks off the heavier side of the album and was the first and most successful single released from the album. However “Slip to the Void” provides both sides of this album into one song. It’s not the happiest song in the world and it’s not intended to be but it’s actually quite a beautifully melancholic song that has always resonated with me.

8. Breath Again

As much as the word mediocre isn’t one I usually associate with Alter Bridge, keep in mind that I am only comparing it to other AB songs when I say that this song for a large part is rather mediocre. It has a mindblowing section though. If you’re a massive Alter Bridge fan, then you’re probably in love with the sound of Myles Kennedy’s voice and there is about 30 seconds of this song that renders me speechless every time I hear it. There are only 2 other songs where Myles Kennedy reaches these ridiculous notes, one of which I will talk about later. The other is “Summergirl” by The Mayfield Four and it is quite spectacular and deserves to mentioned alongside “Breath Again”. I may do a Myles Kennedy top 10 soon which will talk about this song more but for now I will move on.

7. Waters Rising

After the success of ABIII, Myles Kennedy went off to work with Slash which led to Mark Tremonti releasing his first solo album. Any AB fan knows how good Tremonti’s backing vocals are and how good of a song writer he is so it’s no surprise how good that first solo album was. When Alter Bridge then got back together for Fortress it was no surprise that Tremonti had been given the lead vocals on one of the best tracks on the album. There are a lot of exceptional songs on that album so it was hard to stand out but what it did was add another dimension to Alter Bridge that makes them that much better. Fortress was an experimental album and this was one experiment that definitely payed off.

6. One Day Remains

The title track of their first album and it’s still a brilliant song 12 years later. As much as it wasn’t the first song of theirs I heard I feel like there aren’t many bands around who’s debut song is that good. It wasn’t the first single they released, it was never the most popular song on the album, but vocally and lyrically it was and still is superb. Although I feel like they have come a long way since then and Fortress is a much more complete album, there are some songs that just won’t ever get old and this is one of them.

5. Wayward One

Hopefully this is a surprising one, I don’t often see it being quoted or talked about even within other AB related blogs/pages on social media but it has always been one of my favourites. The song is beautifully put together but the end is what makes it truly stand out. It’s one of those songs that when that ending guitar solo starts, I don’t want it to end and that’s why it’s probably the song I’ve put on repeat the most. It’s not the longest solo they’ve done, but for me it’s definitely one of the most memorable. It sort of comes out of nowhere but at the same time connects perfectly with the lyrics and the timing is impeccable. They don’t add another chorus on the end like they do with a lot of songs they just end it with the solo and leave you wanting more.

4. Cry of Achilles

I think this song was a certainty given the name of my blog but I think a lot of people thought it would be number 1 or 2 so hopefully this is surprisingly far down. As a general rock and metal fan though songs just don’t get any more complete than this. It is the first track on an experimental album and it’s one of the strangest yet excellently put together songs I have ever heard. It starts off with a brilliant soft rock acoustic solo for an intro before Myles kicks in with some typically perfect vocals. Then after a few verses and a chorus we get the first of two solo’s. Firstly we have a lengthy melodic soft rock solo, followed by a chorus, then the second solo; a short, scintillating hard rock solo from Tremonti. Despite the solos, the last 30 seconds of this song is my favourite part of the song. The end of the solo just drives into a last burst of Myles excellence with a final ending verse. This song sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the album, it’s experimental, it’s something they’d never done before and it shows how much they have progressed in the time they’ve been together.

3. Metalingus

The song that introduced me to Alter Bridge a long time ago and hooked me in. Most of the focus of AB will always be on Myles and Mark but this song showcases the whole band in all their glory. Scott Phillips puts on a masterclass on the drums and Brian Marshall equally on the bass guitar. It also tends to be the one song that people who aren’t even AB fans still know and love. I had a friend a while ago who was a massive Metallica and heavy metal fan and thought Alter Bridge were nothing but soft rock for teenagers. Then he saw them at Download and watching this song live made him and instant fan. For me it’s the perfect mix of soft and hard rock, and because of this ‘sitting on the fence’ style, they stand out. They’ve not tried to copy anyone else, they’re just doing what they love and this song is the epitome of that.

2. Watch Over You

A breathtakingly beautiful song. After listening to other songs on this list like “Metalingus” or “Waters Rising” it still baffles me that they’re capable of producing a song that can make a grown man cry but this manages it. I’ve chosen this over “In Loving Memory” just because it hits me harder really. They’re both beautiful songs and the story behind “In Loving Memory” is well documented so it’s very personal to the band, but for some reason I’ve always connected more with this song. When I went to see AB live just over 2 years ago Myles did an acoustic version of this song with Lzzy Hale and it was absolutely stunning. It’s never going to make me smile with joy but in the right mood this song is simply perfect.

1. Blackbird

The most obvious song on this list but I think this would be number 1 on most AB fans lists. It is just a sensational piece of music. I said before they have songs for every emotion and every mood and nothing sums that up more than this. I have this song on every playlist because it doesn’t matter what sort of mood I am in, I know I will want to listen to this song. It manages to be melancholy, haunting, and uplifting all at the same time. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how much I love this song. The lyrics, the vocals, and the solo (helped by sublime drumming) are all incomprehensibly brilliant. Going back to the time I went to see them a couple of years ago, (sadly, the only time until hopefully later this year) it’s hard to believe that they’re actually doing it when it’s happening. It is an epic song, it means a lot to the band and it means a lot to the fans and as much as I think they are always improving, I don’t think they will ever top this exquisite and captivating song.