I really enjoy discovering new music, both from bands who have been around for a while and bands who are just starting out. Finding a band at the start of their career and following them as they ride the wave that is the music business is incredibly rewarding for me. Not to brag (well, maybe just a little) but I had the good fortune of hearing 311 (remember them?), Korn and Kid Rock before they hit the big time. This week I was given the opportunity to review the latest album from Denver's own Red Tide Rising. The operative word for the week is going to be "potential" and "The Rising" has plenty of it.
"The Rising" is Red Tide Rising's sophomore album. They've also recorded an EP and have had some success in the world of digital downloads. On this latest recording, brothers Matthew and Andrew Whiteman (lead vocals and guitars, respectively) have partnered with Sean Verity on bass and drummer/percussionist Matt Guerin to create a dynamic album.
First, the production on this album is top-notch. I was immediately struck by the high quality of the recording. The opening track "Rising Tides" is a minor chord, piano based instrumental which sets a somber tone to the cd. Then, BANG, right into the powerful "213". The sound is modern, along the lines of, say, a Five Finger Death Punch. The music is aggressive. The band is super tight. I love the guitar sound. I particularly enjoyed the song "The Otherside".
Now, before we go any further, I have an issue with the album and that is the vocals. Throughout the history of rock and roll, the front man has generally been the vocalist (exceptions are the Beatles and early KISS). The front man creates the energy. Matthew Whiteman has a pleasant voice and sings in a chanting style that is reminiscent of Maynard James Keenan of Tool. Noticeably absent at times, however, is passion. I don't mean a lack of passion for his art. Rather, the studio setting can sometimes suck some of the energy out of a performance while trying to achieve perfection doing take after take.
There are actors who refuse to rehearse. They learn the blocking of the scene, then, once the cameras are rolling, give it their all in one take. Any other take would simply be a watered down rehash of the first take.
"The Rising" was co-produced by Jeff Kanan who worked previously with Kelly Clarkson, Madonna, Randy Jackson, Staind and others. I was not familiar with the work of Red Tide Rising prior to this album and I wasn't in the studio while they were recording it. I can't help but wonder if Mr. Kanan just couldn't pull the high-energy vocal out of Matthew Whiteman that the rest of the music demands.
To answer my own query, I searched online and found Red Tide Rising performing a cover of Drowning Pool's "Bodies" live and, sure enough, Matthew is front and center, belting it out with an energetic performance. That being said, I would love to hear some of the songs on "The Rising" performed live. A song like "Misery" or "This is War" would benefit greatly from the freedom of the stage and Matthew's ability to let loose.
I've stated previously that I have a tremendous amount of respect for any band that reaches the point where they are able to professionally record an album.
From what I understand, Matthew is a young man (he's still in his teens) so there is certainly hope for growth. While listening to "The Rising" I kept wishing he would just let loose. Several of the tracks have backup vocals in the form of a hardcore growl but combined with the lead vocals it still left me wanting more.
Red Tide Rising has a lot of potential. I wish I could get past the vocals on "The Rising" but they are so far out front in the mix they were impossible for me to ignore. Overall, the album is good, quite good, in fact, but it wasn't great. I look forward to hearing more from the band as they mature and certainly wish them the best. They're almost there. If you have the chance, give Red Tide Rising a listen and judge for yourself. Who knows, maybe someday you'll be able to say, "Yeah, I remember them before they made it big".