Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Black Tide - Post Mortem

Black Tide
Post Mortem
DGC Records/Interscope Records/Universal Music Australia

When Black Tide signed with Interscope Records in 2007, the label wasted little time in hyping up the Miami (Florida, U.S.) act well before getting them into the studio. And it was that same hype that had many chomping at the bit to hear the young band’s debut effort ‘Light From Above’ in 2008.
But despite all of the build up prior to its release, ‘Light From Above’ was nothing more than an O.K. album, with just as many solid tracks as there were fillers. But the more interesting thing most took from Black Tide’s debut was the potential the young band had. Many were hoping that by the time the band returned with their sophomore effort, Black Tide would eventually go on to become metal’s next big thing.
Well, three years and a line-up change later (Ex-Crimix/The Panix rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Austin Diaz replaced Alex Nuñez in 2008, and joins vocalist/lead guitarist Gabriel Garcia, bassist/backing vocalist Zachary Sandler and drummer Steven Spence), Black Tide has returned with their highly anticipated sophomore effort ‘Post Mortem’. And the results are most likely going to be what most people weren’t expecting from the band.
The opening track ‘Ashes’ (Which features a guest vocal appearance from Matt Tuck of Bullet For My Valentine) starts the album off in a fairly solid metalcore sounding fashion, even if the band’s raw edge of old has been given a more polished appeal. The aggression is certainly there, as well as the song writing. Garcia’s vocals have definitely matured, and the musicianship has well and truly taken a step up in the three years since we last heard from the group.
With the follow on track ‘Bury Me’ (Which was released as a single in 2010), it’s clear that Black Tide have forsaken their early metal sound for something more akin to metalcore. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it has to be said that ‘Bury Me’ doesn’t offer anything new that hasn’t already been heard a thousand times before from the likes of Bullet For My Valentine or Trivium. But while the song writing is a little unremarkable, the musicianship is a clear winner, with the band showing great improvement on a musical level.
The heavy mid-paced effort ‘Let It Out’ sees the band move into a more alternative rock realm with its huge catchy choruses and harmonised vocals, while tracks such as the Lostprophets sounding ‘Honest Eyes’ (Which was also released back in 2010), the driving ‘That Fire’, ‘Take It Easy’ and the slower paced and mainstream radio rock sounding ‘Fight ‘Til The Bitter End’ are by far the album’s most accessible tunes, and the ones most likely to disappoint those who hoped for the band to steer more towards a heavier and more metallic direction.
Both ‘Lost In The Sound’ and the aggressive ‘Walking Dead Man’ do offer a little more metal to the listener (Not to mention with a whole lot of melody to boot), while the sweeping ballad ‘Into The Sky’ offers the complete opposite with its acoustic first half, and it’s symphonic tail end to close the album. All three tracks give listeners a sense of just how varied the band has moved to spread their sounds to realms beyond straight out metal on their second album.
For those pinning their hopes on Black Tide taking the hint of metal on their debut to new extremes on ‘Post Mortem’ will be sorely disappointed with this album.
Instead, Black Tide have clearly gone for a more metalcore sound on ‘Post Mortem’, along with some more heavy rock tunes to keep things interesting beyond one core direction. It’s a plan that does work, provided of course you don’t mind catchy songs, familiar and safe song structures and lyrics that don’t require too much thought.
Overall, ‘Post Mortem’ isn’t so much a failure, because it’s actually quite an enjoyable album. Instead, it’s a good (If inconsistent) album from a band who still seems a little confused as to what style of music they want to play.

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© Justin Donnelly