With their major-label debut, Miami’s baby-faced heavy metal savants Black Tide have produced an introduction that should provide the critical mass needed to unleash the hurricane that’s been stirring Florida’s music scene for the past few years.
Back in 2005, the boys (then playing as Radio) left a small, unsuspecting audience at Café Annie completely thunderstruck with their Florida Music Festival performance. I was there and I knew I had just seen something special. There was a freakshow element about the impossibly young band – only one member of driving age and a then-12-year-old frontman (Gabriel Garcia) – but they genuinely rocked. The following year, they were moved up to one of the festival’s main stages, where they caught the attention of Interscope Records. Since then, their rising star has led them to high-profile opening slots for Ozzy Osbourne and Lamb of God at Ozzfest 2007, a tour with Avenged Sevenfold and, now, this record.
Though fashioned by the fingers of teenagers, Light From Above is a distinctly learned study of the metal tradition, the kind that only springs from the most devout of classicists. It represents a rock lexicon steeped in fealty to the cornerstones of hard rock muscle (“Live Fast Die Young”), thrash riffs (“Hit the Lights”), neoclassical shredding (“Warriors of Time,” the album’s Maiden-loving crown jewel) and soaring power-metal melodies (“Shout”). The only hint of youth in their sound is the vigor with which these songs rip. Beyond that, the execution is astoundingly accomplished.
The record’s only appreciable flaw is that its too-slick treatment doesn’t communicate the much hairier beast they are live, but only listeners with several Black Tide concerts under their belt will notice. Still, it’s a good showcase of their remarkable chops. A work of virtuosity and coherence, Light From Above is destined to impress.