Black Tide – Post Mortem (2011)

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Music

When Black Tide arrived on the scene in 2008 with their debut release Light From Above, it was hard to take them too seriously. Frontboy/lead guitarist Gabriel Garcia wasn’t even old enough to drive, and the rest of the band hadn’t finished high school. The novelty act turned a few heads with their boyish charm and love for Megadeth and Iron Maiden, but once you heard the music, the head jerk became a neck snap. The band had razor sharp skill all around, and sounded far more polished and poignant than their library cards would lead you to believe.

And it didn’t take long for the world to take notice. Shortly after the release, the rise to superstardom began – but not with the normal cutting of the teeth most new bands have to endure. They were immediately sharing the stage with some of the biggest bands in metal. Ozzfest main stage? Opening slot for Bullet For My Valentine? Featured tracks on hit video games? Appearances on Jimmy Kimmel? Avenged Sevenfold tour? Best New Band Awards? Yes and yes. And yes.

With all the touring and well-deserved attention, the band made the youthful mistake of not writing new songs and failing to look ahead – but who could blame them? They were living the rock star dream the last few years.

But it is 2011 now, three years after the debut, and the time for a new album is overdue. The band’s latest record – curiously titled Post Mortem – was actually scheduled for a February release, but has been pushed back to August 19th in order to “fine tune” the disc and rewrite a part or two along the way. Ensuring the album is as tight as can be is a good idea. We all know about the “Sophomore Jinx”…

The title is perplexing, only due to the fact that this band has basically just been hatched, and here they are hinting at death and the process thereafter. I hope it means something to them, because it sure as hell doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. But let’s forget about that for now, and get to the album itself…

Out of the gate, we get “Ashes” which immediately shows two things: one is that the band has matured quite a bit and secondly, that the band has been listening to a lot of metalcore. If you think it sounds like a Bullet For My Valentine song, it’s with good reason – Matthew Tuck makes a guest appearance here. The vocals are layered nicely, and the added heaviness makes for a nice re-introduction.

“Bury Me” takes all three parts of the rhythm section and amps them up a bit, as this tune is carried by some pretty serious bass, drums, and backing guitar. The vocal structure is extremely developed – a sign that these guys have learned a few new tricks out on the road…

If you were to take the typical ballad and wrap it in barbed wire, you would get something like “Let It Out.” While the lyrics are astute and carry a positive message of being your own person and believing in yourself, the track just can’t slow itself down. Garcia has every intent to make you listen to the words, but the music is just too good behind it to be ignored. Songs built like this have been charting well of late, so it wouldn’t surprise me if we hear a lot more of this track in months to come.

“Honest Eyes” has – again – a very prominent bass and drum force driving it and gallops along at a blistering pace. While the band has improved every aspect of their game, it has become obvious – four tracks in – that they are card-carrying members of the metalcore union now. And honestly, they do it well enough that I’m okay with it. When you consider the easiest minds to influence are those of the younger generation, you just have to accept the fact that these guys have been listening to a lot of Avenged Sevenfold and Killswitch Engage. It wasn’t really what I expected – but truthfully, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Currently getting attention on the airwaves is “That Fire,” which stands pretty tall on this release. It’s heavy with loud guitars and perfect structure, and exemplifies the direction the band has taken, while hinting at the sound that flooded their first release. What makes this track special is the fact that everything just comes together naturally, and no one aspect overwhelms the song. Even the solo is tuned down a bit, so you can hear the drums – and the all-for-one attitude shines.

Black Tide pulls another rabbit from the “ballad-core” hat with “Fight Till The Bitter End.” It’s another radio-friendly, predictable tune, but has just enough little twists along the way to keep it interesting. That said, the normal limit for me on these slowed-down tracks is two per album. Especially with a band that plays the harder stuff so well.

The band tricks you into thinking another tear-jearking, Bic-lighting, date-hugging song is on the way with the soft-strummed opening of “Take It Easy.” Fortunately, the metal takes over after a few short stanzas of hushed vocals with the drums and guitars erupting into an explosion of sound.
Some interesting key shifts and tempo turns really keep you embraced through the track, which stands out as one of my favorites on the album.

“Lost In The Sound” is easily the most accurately named song of the year. After a mostly decent listen so far, we get served up a mechanical, unoriginal track of everything that is wrong with metalcore as a whole. Predictable structure, uninspired breakdowns, and overly-emotional lyrical content. But even as the album’s worst track, it was performed well enough to only get a moment of facepalm, and the solo had enough merit to make me sit back up at attention.

The album needed a little pick-me up at this point, and “Walking Dead Man” was that shot of adrenaline. As easily the most energy-fueled stomp on the disk (and least metalcore), Garcia and company might have found the perfect mix of styles to carry into the future. On close listen, you could pick up the Sepultura influence – who the band have claimed as an inspiration in the past. The soaring solos and hard-hit cymbal crashes rallied this album at the perfect time, and should stand as one of the band’s finer works…

After two slower tracks in the first half of the album, you had to know that the second half would carry one as well. What I didn’t know was how capable Black Tide were of turning a drum-less, acoustical piece into something as absolutely epic as anything in metal. The first half of “Into The Sky” is soft and melodious, showcasing Garcia’s skill as both a vocalist and writer (hard to believe he’s only now 18). Midway we get a timpani roll into a gorgeous arrangement of strings and drums that brought back the same chill previously experienced in Guns ‘n Roses’ “November Rain.” Absolutely perfect.

“Alone” had no other option than being a bit of a letdown after the last track, but it did everything it could to leave its own mark. There are some borderline technical parts here that only added to the vast landscape of instruments and vocal layers. In fact, with so many hidden sounds and kicks, I had to listen to it several times in a row to take everything in. It isn’t very often that a band makes the second half of an album so much better than the first half – but I’m not putting anything past Black Tide at this point.

The closer “Give Hope” is loaded with more metalcore blasts, and even a few string squeaks along the way, but feels like something that would have been better placed in the middle of the album versus at the very end. I want the last track to be something that lingers long after I’ve turned the stereo off, and this just isn’t that track. It tries to build up into something at the end that is memorable, but when compared to a couple of other tracks on the disc isn’t – and shouldn’t be – what you remember about Post Mortem.

What I’m going to remember is that the band members, while changing styles a bit, are deeply in touch with their skill and ability to put together some pretty amazing stuff together. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the next album sounds completely different than this one, as the only thing really “missing” here is the group’s true identity – but it will be fun coming along for the ride as they find it.


01. Ashes (feat. Matthew Tuck of Bullet for My Valentine)
02. Bury Me
03. Let It Out
04. Honest Eyes
05. That Fire
06. Fight Till The Bitter End
07. Take It Easy
08. Lost In The Sound
09. Walking Dead Man
10. Into The Sky
11. Alone
12. Give Hope

MySpace: Link | Wiki: Link


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s