Well, I promised I'd follow up with this band once I heard their debut album, and I'm pleased to say I've added it to my collection and I'm far from disappointed. I bought this CD the day it was released, so I've had several weeks to properly digest their debut material for this review. Black Tide more than live up to the expectations I had from seeing them at Ozzfest a year ago, and hearing their 2-song sampler distributed at Hot Topic. These guys really could be the future of metal (as "Ultimate Revenge Magazine" said in a quote on the promotional sticker on the CD). "Light From Above" is filled with classic metal riffs, melodic grooves, and ripping guitar solos that respectfully honor the band's many influences. The album is oozing with raw potential from start to finish.
The band's frontman, Gabriel Garcia, has proven he has some great song-writing potential, and he's so young (age 14 when they played Ozzfest!) there's no way he can do anything but improve. His voice is a bit reminiscent of the early days of Silverchair's Daniel Johns (I know it's weird I should make that comparison since Johns was also under 18 when he recorded the 1st Silverchair album, Frogstomp). But the rest of the band's sound seems to draw from many sources of inspiration. In addition to Megadeth, Metallica, & Guns N' Roses (all referenced in Spin's quote on the Promo sticker), there are distinct elements of Iron Maiden apparent in songs like "Warriors of Time", & "Enterprise". Black Tide also have a few songs that sound like they fit right in with some of their Ozzfest '06 tour-mates. The closing title track, "Light From Above" could sound like an Avenged Sevenfold song, and "Let Me" has an intro riff that betrays an influence from Black Label Society's (& Ozzy Osbourne guitarist) Zakk Wylde. "Show Me the Way" re-works a Megadeth riff from "The Conjuring", but it develops into a very enjoyable metal song. "Give Me a Chance" and "Live Fast, Die Young" are much more 'rock' oriented songs and less 'metal'.
And last but not least, I have to mention their cover of Metallica's "Hit the Lights". This was the 1st song I heard them perform live at Ozzfest, and was hesitant to recommend it on my first post because I wasn't sure they would record it for their debut album. However they did record it, and it is a near flawless rendition. I even went so far as to listen to both versions simultaneously. I was amazed to hear that the tempo and intensity of this cover was practically a perfect match. The only differences are 1: the guitar solos (obviously, soloing is the most artistic aspect of heavy metal guitar playing, and I'd have been a bit let down if Garcia just copied Kirk's solos note for note), and 2: the tempo of the "breakdown" segment. You'll find Metallica whip through that part a little faster than Black Tide, and you'll have to pause one CD player & let the other catch up. All things considered, they couldn't have performed it better. It's perhaps a bit symbolic that they choose this Metallica tune to cover. It was Metallica's first song on their first album, back when they hadn't truly established a direction for their own music (as they later did on their next 2 albums). It's a mission-statement song for metal if ever there was one!
All-in-all Light From Above is packed with a vast variety of rock & metal song-styles. It might be the only down-side of this CD, that there's too much variety. However if you're looking for a versatile new heavy metal band, then here's the band you've been waiting for. As young as they are, Black Tide have the potential to pull the heavy metal genre in their direction. I foresee that they will refine their sound & direction over 2-3 more albums as they continue to write music, possibly incorporating many of their apparent influences more cohesively into future songs. To paraphrase the lyrics of "Give Me a Chance"; we should give Black Tide a chance to figure out who they are. I'm sure we'll not be disappointed.
In addition to my previous recommendations (Shockwave & Warriors of Time) from my previous post on Black Tide, I recommend...
-Give Me a Chance
-Hit The Lights
-Light From Above