Black Tide – Light From Above (2008)

Black Tide - Light From Above (2008)

Black Tide – Light From Above (2008, Interscope)

  1. Shockwave
  2. Shout
  3. Warriors Of Time
  4. Give Me A Chance
  5. Let Me
  6. Show Me The Way
  7. Enterprise
  8. Live Fast Die Young
  9. Hit The Lights
  10. Black Abyss
  11. Light From Above

Band Lineup:
Gabriel Garcia – Lead Vocals, Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Alex Nunez – Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Zakk Sandler – Bass
Steven Spence – Drums

Johnny K (Machine Head, Disturbed) 

Total Time = 46:24

Black Tide official website
Black Tide MySpace page
Total Assault
Interscope Records

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when I got the press release for this hot new young Metal band named Black Tide. First thing that struck me was the age of the band, everyone is a teenager (under 20)! Right away I figured that this was going to be another Trixter situation where the hype is based on the age of the band rather the music. The second thing that put up warning signs was the all out media blitz that the band’s label (Interscope) put out. The band’s picture is everywhere online and in magazines and the album has been streaming a good month before it’s release date. Either Black Tide is the next huge Metal band or they are the new marketing tool in a sagging industry.

Black Tide have come out of the gates storming with a debut that draws completely from the ’80s Metal heyday and incorporates Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Thrash, and Power Metal all into one huge sound. Think Metallica, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, GnR, and Motley Crue all rolled into one. This album really sounds like it came out in ’86 but it stands up against current Power Metal heavyweights like Hammerfall and Iced Earth.

Starting with ‘Shockwave’, the band puts in a fiery guitar riff underneath some surprisingly solid ’80s style vocals from 15 year old Gabriel Garcia. And people thought that Trivium took over the twin guitar attack, Garcia and Nunez immeadiately show that despite their young age, they can shred and solo with the best of them. The pounding continues with ‘Shout’, a song that sounds like a Metallica/Guns ‘N Roses hybrid with some really clean soloing. ‘Warriors Of Time’ starts with a nice twin acoustic beginning that has a touch of Spanish flavor, something Angra might do, and immeadiately kicks into a Hammerfall styled power anthem. Seriously, where did these kids learn to make Metal like this?

Things slow down a little on ‘Give Me A Chance’ but those lead runs make the song seem faster. I’ve noticed that Zakk’s bass is really pumping along with the rhythm track but there is some variation that keeps it from getting lost. ‘Let Me’ starts with another good basic riff but I’m not digging the childish (no pun intended) lusty lyrics. Then again, what do teenage guys think about anyway? Women! I like the quick breakdown 2:35 in, you can really get a good listen to the bass and drums. ‘Show Me The Way’ and ‘Enterprise’ continue the barrage of pure Heavy Metal while ‘Live Fast Die Young’ reminds of another young band in Airbourne.

I hate covers! Especially when a band has good fresh material. A lot of press has been given to Black Tide’s cover of the of the Metallica classic, ‘Hit The Lights’. It’s a solid rendition with dead on solos but is it necessary? The album stands tall so far and doesn’t need it. I’d prefer another original song, a small complaint. The band channels more ’80s Metal flavors with ‘Black Abyss’ and ‘Light From Above’. I like the sequencing of both titles together because if you are in a black abyss then the only light is from above! Seriously, the twin lead attack of ‘Black Abyss’ sounds like Priest with a really cool breakdown at the 2:30 mark and the title track has a nice solo intro moving into a Maiden vibe.

Bottom Line:
What a surprise! I never would have thought that this record was going to be that good! The mix of all the old school Metal styles and influences added to the band’s energy makes a great formula for success. The musicianship is awesome for a band of teenagers: solid backbone with the bass and drums, soaring guitars, and pretty good Metal vocals. The songwriting will mature with the age and experience, some may find the lyrics not as complex but they are good. Black Tide has really come out storming and joins the ranks of Airbourne, Icarus Witch, Endeverafter, and Armory as bands with a successful future ahead. A contender for the Top Albums of 2008 already!


Helix – The Power Of Rock And Roll (2007)

Helix - The Power Of Rock And Roll (2007)

Helix – The Power Of Rock And Roll (2007, Perris Records)

  1. Fill Your Head With Rock
  2. Get Up!
  3. Nickels And Dimes
  4. The Past Is Back (To Kick Your Ass!)
  5. Eat My Dust
  6. Baby Likes To Ride
  7. Boomerang Lover
  8. Cyberspace Girl
  9. Living Life Large
  10. The Power Of Rock ‘N Roll
  11. Heavy Metal Love 2006 (bonus track)

Brian Vollmer – Vocals
Steve Georgakopoulos – Guitars
Jeff Fountain – Bass
Rob MacEachern – Drums

Producer: Gord Prior

Total Time = 33:05

Helix official website
Helix MySpace page
Perris Records

I first discovered Helix back in 1983 when I picked up a cassette tape of NO REST FOR THE WICKED after hearing ‘Heavy Metal Love’ on the radio. I followed the band throughout the ’80s but I eventually lost track of the band. Thankfully, the Internet plugged me back in and I find that Brian Vollmer (lead singer, founding member) still continued to Rock. Vollmer opened up to promote the history of one of Canada’s Hard Rock icons and the  growing buzz among fans, and industry types, helped bring a new record to long time diehards and a new generation ready for straight ahead, no nonsense, Hard Rock.

Helix - Get Up!THE POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL is actually a reissue of GET UP!, a late ’06/early ’07 limited edition unmastered pre-release, plus four new songs. Unfortunately, I was a little slow to purchase GET UP! and now it’s a sold-out collector’s item. The good news is that Vollmer and co. have hooked up with Perris Records and released the full length record in the U.S.

‘Fill Your Head With Rock’ opens the album with a fist-pumpin’ groove that immeadiately kicks things into high gear. It’s a short song but the barroom boogie rock and stylish guitar solos drive the track to anthem status. ‘Get Up!’ continues the party with a catchy chorus and AC/DC-like rhythms. The best thing about Helix back in the day was that they just came out and played their brand of Rock, regardless of trends. Two songs in and the album is already an instant party just like the old days.

My favorite song on the album is ‘Nickels And Dimes’, another fast rocker, takes me right back to the early ’80s when Hard Rock was king. I hate to keep mentioning the band’s “classic style” but, when you’ve done the same thing so well for over 30 years, it’s hard to not follow the same successful formula. Screaming guitars all over this track and Brian sounds as strong as he did way back in the glory days. ‘The Past Is Back To Kick Your Ass’ has a sleazy groove that kicks into gear come the chorus and ‘Eat My Dust’ is a speedy rocker that opens with a riff that comes from Eddie Van Halen’s playbook and hits you in the face. I really dig ‘Baby Likes To Ride’ because it’s got that old school Helix vibe to it and it pulls the listener in with a hooky delivery and laid back, almost bluesy, style.

‘Boomerang Lover’ has a really cool bass line and the vocals are very laid back and cool while ‘Cyberspace Girl’ starts kind of subdued but with a chugging underlying riff and then kicks back in comes the chorus. Clever lyrics. ‘Livin’ Life Large’ sounds like some of the other somgs on the album but it’s still a party rocker with a catchy chorus. I really like the title track. It’s basically a song about Vollmer’s life in Rock and it’s got a great sound, definitely a track made for concerts. it even has a little crowd noise pumped in at the break 3 minutes in!

Capping off the party is the 2007 version of ‘Heavy Metal Love’. Now this is the song that got me hooked on the band so I’m going to be critical. Everyone know my disappointment when an album has a cover song but I have this soft spot for a band remaking their own songs, I usually like the new translation. This version is almost dead on to the original from ’83 and Brian sounds just as good as jhe did back then. Dare I say the new version is better than the original? Damn close!

Bottom Line:
Want to hear good time, fun, party Hard Rock? The Helix is the band to bring it to you with THE POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL. The new band is tight, Brian Vollmer hasn’t lost a step vocally, and the songs are solid. Helix hasn’t changed their formula, nor do they have to. If it works, don’t change a thing. If I had to pick them, my favorite songs are: the title track, ‘Nickels And Dimes’, ‘Baby Likes To Ride’, ‘Get Up!’ and ‘ Fill Your Head with Rock’. There isn’t a weak song on the album.

Unfortunately, I bought this album in early January before I made my Top 15 Albums of 2007. Looking back on it now, if I bought the album in 2007, it would have easily made the Top 15. This album is really great, here’s hoping Vollmer and company do another!