Album Review: Black Tide - "Post Mortem"

The metal community has been waiting for the sophomore album of Black Tide ever since their debut was released. Everyone who was anyone, no matter their opinion of the album, was witness to the nearly limitless potential that Black Tide was harboring. Merely teens at the time of their first release, the band was considered in need of just a little refinement; a few minor tweaks, and Black Tide would join their inspirations (Metallica, Trivium, et al,) in the upper echelons of heavy metal's notoriety.

Somehow, in the quest to become more mature and despite various press releases trumpeting the band's increased cultivation, Black Tide and their new album "Post Mortem" have gone backwards.

Right near the top with "Honest Eyes," Black Tide surprises by incorporating an increased number of pop-punk style choruses. These would have sounded right at home during the heady days of Blink-182 or Sum 41, but that was another decade and another genre.

Yet those styles, along with other such musical populism from the transition between pop-punk and emo dominate the landscape of "Post Mortem" that held so much promise. As the album careens into "Bury Me," the listener is subjected to just another song about teenage angst and young, passionate emotion. Despite being a long allegory about burial at the hands of another, the song isn't as austere, striking or subtly painful as Alice in Chains' "Dirt."

This trend of clinging adolescence continues on other tracks, culminating in "Take it Easy," a song that is musically excellent with a fine push and a well executed bridge, but crests the mountain in terms of backwards emotional context. The song ventures to ask the question "what will this mean/ five years from now?" which in presentation drips with more melodramatic nostalgia than the pedantic "Graduation (Friends Forever,)" by Vitamin C.

There are times, before it seems like we consider the whole album a waste, where the promise of musical talent shines through on "Post Mortem." "That Fire" is a tune with a fine riff and a pounding gallop. It's a shame that the production makes this song thinner than it could have been. Played live on stage, it likely would be a highlight of the set.

"Lost in Sound" is another track on the album's back half that brings to the table the kind of old-school metal sensibility that Black Tide promised fans on "Light From Above" in 2008. While perhaps not a puncher, "Lost in Sound" features fine artistry and a solid knowledge and possession of what makes a great metal riff.

Ultimately, those sounds are too few and much too far in between, as Black Tide makes the listener sift through more slow tunes like "Fight Til the Bitter End" then enjoy the solid cuts like "That Fire." Gabriel Garcia's clean vocals are thin throughout, and can distract from the overall quality musicianship.

It's a shame that Black Tide chained their talent within the framework of "Post Mortem," because the band is better than this album.

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