Black Tide embrace the darkness on their second album, Post Mortem
, but this metal group’s execution isn’t sharp enough to help them rise above their peers. Though compared to Bullet for My Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold
, Black Tide seem more enamored with genre conventions than they are in really creating unique, riveting music from those conventions. Though more consistently enjoyable than their debut, 2008’s Light From Above
, Post Mortem
lacks the vitality that would make it memorable.
Still Young Pups
Led by frontman Gabriel Garcia, this Miami-based quartet is made up of relatively young guys. (Garcia isn’t yet 19.) Not surprisingly, then, Post Mortem ripples with youthful zeal. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm doesn’t always translate into compelling tunes. In particular, the album’s more shred-tastic metal songs come across as generic, with Garcia’s guitar work highly competent but not very exciting. It feels as if he’s trying to emulate his heroes without necessarily knowing how to insert originality into the proceedings. Still, Post Mortem finds the group outgrowing the awkward referencing of Light From Above, where they almost came across as a poker-faced parody of heavy metal excess.
Fighting Until the Bitter End
Post Mortem is a success, however, when the music merges aggression and emotion. “Honest Eyes” rocks furiously, backed by Garcia’s lyrics that spell out his determination to turn his life around. Here, he moves back and forth between shouting and singing, and when he’s in clenched-teeth mode there’s an urgency that has even more power than the guitars. Likewise, “Let It Out” segues from toned-down verses into explosive choruses, a nice musical dynamic that mirrors the song's message of not keeping your true self bottled up inside. Some of the album’s major themes are self-sufficiency and perseverance -- there’s even a song called “Fight Til the Bitter End” -- and Garcia lets Post Mortem become a rallying cry for any listener who fells repressed or misunderstood. These aren’t new lyrical subjects for metal songs, but hearing Garcia develop his personality on Post Mortem gives one hope that he’ll be able to transform formula into moments of insight more often in the future.
Black Tide's Softer Side
When Black Tide decide to turn down the volume, the results are a little uneven. For example, on “Take It Easy” the song starts off sounding like a ballad before Garcia lets fly with a pained scream, setting the stage for a pretty ordinary rocker. But on “Into the Sky,” Garcia pulls out all the stops for an unabashedly pretty power ballad. But even with the soaring strings that kick in about halfway through, the quartet don’t fall prey to sappy sentimentality. To the contrary, “Into the Sky” is a rousing, triumphant track, recalling some of Guns N’ Roses
’ more audacious tunes from the Use Your Illusion
records. It would have been nice if more of Post Mortem
had been so unabashedly stunning.
'Post Mortem' - Bottom Line
Like a lot of young bands, Black Tide have developed their chops but not quite their persona. Two albums into their career, they feel like a strong opening act, the sort of band you’d bring out on tour with you but not one that the masses would die to see as the headliner. There’s still time for that to change, though, but it’ll be interesting to see where Black Tide go after Post Mortem
. Light From Above
allowed them to take their first baby steps, and Post Mortem
finds them taking off the training wheels and trying to ride around the block on their own. This rock ‘n’ roll kid is certainly growing up, but he hasn’t reached maturity just yet.
'Post Mortem' - Best Tracks:
“Let It Out” (Purchase/Download
“Into the Sky” (Purchase/Download
“Fight Til the Better End” (Purchase/Download
“Honest Eyes” (Purchase/Download
Release date – August 23, 2011
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publicist. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.