Black Tide are a band I missed completely when they released their debut album, Light From Above (2008). At the time, I wasn’t following the scene as much as I had before, and tended to focus on the bands I already knew, who have released a slew of amazing albums in recent years. I only learned of them when YouTube threw up “That Fire” as a recommendation for a video playlist I’d been putting together. And I quite liked it. So off I went to get the album.
I’m not entirely sure which genre or sub-genre of rock they belong in, if I’m perfectly honest. I suppose the best place to put them would be “neo-thrash”, seeing as they blend some of the best elements of thrash, while also bringing a more modern pop-sheen. Really, this is pretty light metal, and purists will sneer at it (as they are wont to do at almost anything), but I think it’s a pretty great album. And it’s criminal how young the band members are…
You can find hints of so many other bands in Black Tide’s sound, but they don’t come across as rip-offs; they pay homage to their influences, but this outfit manages to take all these elements and make them distinctive from most, if not all, of their peers. Most impressive of all is that vocalist Garcia was only sixteen when their debut album was released: he has a great set of pipes, able to switch from a roar to a more melodic tone easily.
[I’ve since investigated their debut, which seems to have a sound much more indebted to Guns ‘n’ Roses and Bon Jovi than anything on this album, while retaining the Metallica and Megadeth homage but it’s also worth a listen. Post Mortem forges a path and sound far more their own.]
“Ashes”, which features guest vocals from Matt Tuck (Bullet For My Valentine) is a great opening track, blending chugging, driving riffery. True, this doesn’t really set them apart from many new, young metal bands, but they do it very well. Where they stand out is in the vocals, which are always one of the first things I look for in an album.
“Bury Me” maintains the up-tempo momentum, giving us another mosh-happy track with a soaring chorus, which should get anyone with a pulse at least nodding along or tapping their foot.
“Bury Me” and especially “Let It Out” were strongly reminiscent of a little-known band From Zero (who released albums in 2001 and 2003), with sweeping melodies and a higher, slightly nasal melody to the vocals. “Honest Eyes” brings the tempo back up, sprinkling a few background screams in for extra metal chops, and then “That Fire” hits the listener over the head again. (Watch the music video, below.) This song is indicative of much of the music on the album.
The second half of the album is interesting, and sees the band stretching their skills and sound a little more. For example, “Fight To The Bitter End” was almost Linkin Park-esque if you stripped away the hip-hop/rap stylings (and still retained an uncanny similarity to From Zero); and “Take It Easy” has a glorious pop-sheen to the sub-punk vocals – it won’t impress the hardcore kids or metal heads, but it’s a good (if a tad soft) song. “Into the Sky” is an almost symphonic ballad, with sweeping and layered melodies. It took my completely by surprise, coming after “Walking Dead Man” – a song I can’t help but sing along to, which morphs from a Trivium-lite roaring start to a more diverse rock anthem, complete with widdly guitar solos. “Alone”, the penultimate song on the album, has hints of early Incubus. “Give Hope” closes the album on a more straightforward, rocking number.
The album’s not perfect, but it is certainly polished and GGGarth Richardson’s done a superb job with production. Black Tide are not reinventing the wheel, but they write and play this music extremely well. I’ve grown to like this album with every successive listen.
Ultimately, this is a pretty safe, rather inoffensive rock-metal hybrid album. It won’t impressive metal purists (it’s too commercial), but it’s easy to mosh along to, and there are plenty of hooks and melodies to get you humming or singing along.
“Walking Dead Man”
For Fans Of: From Zero, Lostprophets, Bullet For My Valentine, AFI, Trivium, Linkin Park, Black Veil Brides, Rev Theory, Dope, and no doubt a few other young bands I’ve not yet heard of.
“Let It Out”
“Fight Til The End”
“Take It Easy”
“Lost In The Sound”
“Walking Dead Man”
“Into The Sky”
Vocals & Lead Guitar: Gabriel Garcia | Guitar & Backing Vocals: Austin Diaz | Bass & Backing Vocals: Zakk Sandler | Drums: Steven Spence
Producer: GGGarth Richardson (one of my favourite rock/metal producers, actually)