July 11, 2008

CD Review: Black Tide - Light From Above

Is it me or are these bands getting younger? Not only that, they are demonstrating an amazing amount of musical skill and songwriting maturity. Whether it be Trivium (despite the decent misstep of The Crusade) or Bushwhack, or whoever else you may want to add, these young acts are turning out some really good music. All of the members of Black Tide clock in under 20 years of age, and there debut release is something to behold. It doesn't hurt that their young careers got a big lift before they even released an album, opening the Ozzfest main stage in 2007. Nope, doesn't hurt one bit, and with the still developing musical prowess displayed on their debut must have really wowed the crowds on that tour. Touring aside, we are here to discuss Light From Above.

Prior to receiving a copy of the album, I had not heard a single cut from them, although I have read much praise regarding their music spawned from old school influences. I came into my initial listen clean, without any real expectations, I have heard praised bands fall flat on my ears in the past and all I really hoped was that these guys would not let me down. The opening track, "Shockwave," proved any worries or doubt to be groundless. I was instantly hooked by the riffs and the energy.

Energy is a good word to use when discussing Black Tide. This young quartet attacks their music with energy and aggression that is downright infectious and goes a long way in covering up their shortcomings. You can almost see these guys ripping into tunes during a stage show. If you like metal, there is no way you cannot enjoy these guys.

Culling influential reference points from the likes of Metallica, Megadeth, and Iron Maiden, Black Tide charge through 14 tracks of heavy metal. There is nary a drop of metalcore, hardcore, or screamo to be found here. Just when you might be thinking that classic 80's style heavy metal was lost to the sands of time, replaced by the ever growing list of -core styles, with only thrash receiving any sort of revival (Warbringer, Municipal Waste), do not be discouraged. Black Tide delivers that classic style with catchy riffs, great melodies, better than average songwriting, speedy solos, driving drums, and all the other elements that helped make metal great back in their early days.

While Black Tide's music offers a great throwback sound, they are not a throwback band. They have taken their influences and mixed them with their own experiences, thus delivering a sound that is fresh with a healthy respect for their predecessors. To make sure you know where they are coming from, they include a cover of Metallica's classic cut "Hit the Lights." Now, their version comes nowhere near the original, but they do put themselves out there in the attempt, and I respect them for that. They bring a little of their own spin to it, which works out well.

I must admit to really being taken with Back Tide. I would not go so far as to call the album great, but their youth combined with what they put together here shows a lot of promise for their future. I feel that they have the potential to be a great band. It will definitely be interesting to watch them develop and what they may be able to put out with some more experience under their belts.

When you pop this in your CD player, be sure to focus on: "Warriors of Time" with its classic in the making feel, the power ballad feel of "Give Me a Chance," the thrashy tones of "Let Me," the Iron Maiden-esque "Enterprise," and the Motley Cure modeled "Live Fast Die Young." Of course, don't forget to give the "Hit the Lights" cover a shot!

Bottomline. With hope for the future, Black Tide delivers one of the stronger metal albums of the 2008 music season. This four piece have the basis for strong songwriting with skills to back it up. Once you start listening you probably won't be able to stop.



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