It is heartening to see America's budding metal musicians taking their creative cues from the ranks of traditional metal icons rather than the newer school populated by the likes of DISTURBED or CHEVELLE. That's not to say that the teenagers of BLACK TIDE are playing retro thrash or pure NWOBHM, but the influences are clearly present in the music on "Light from Above". Big, sometimes pop-based, melodies meets crunchy, guitar-driven metal that falls somewhere between thrash/traditional metal and the dirtier end of '80s glam/hair metal.
The formula usually works pretty well and when it doesn't, it's mainly because of goofy lyrics and too much polish. In other words, the offering remains above average with a handful of strong points. When BLACK TIDE hits the mark is when thrash based riffs and hot leads combine with hooky choruses. "Shockwave" and "Warriors of Time" are the shining examples. In the case of the former, the band nails the aforementioned cross breed of styles on this scorching metal rocker with a simple, yet catchy, refrain. Murray/Smith (IRON MAIDEN) twin leads, some well-placed, Dickinson-like "whoa oh ohs" and a very infectious chorus make the latter a highlight. Nothing quite matches the success achieved on those two cuts, but a few tracks come close, one example being "Shout", a tough tune with a rather silly chorus. The same goes for the ballsy "Let Me"; a little more work on the lyrics would have helped a great deal. "Live Fast Die Young" however is a quintessential 80s good time, sleaze rocker. Finally, the cover of METALLICA's "Hit the Lights" is a blast; the band stays true to the song, but injects its own identity into it.
The good news is that the boys offer the listener a lot in the way of heavy ass riffing and smokin' solos, as well as a firm grasp of the mighty hook. Fortunately, none of the tracks are outright stinkers, just several that are decent, but a little too shiny/happy for my tastes. In short, BLACK TIDE is a surprisingly tight unit with good songwriting ideas, especially when one considers the age of the members. I suspect a significant segment of the populace will dig the hell out of this album. I enjoyed much of "Light from Above", but wish more of the tracks hit like "Shockwave", "Warriors of Time", and "Live Fast Die Young", which probably owes more to my personal biases than anything else.