Two things jump out about Black Tide. The first is their youth: they're all under 20, and singer/guitarist Gabriel Garcia is supposedly only 15. Arizona's Age of Evil are likewise babyfaced, with similar power/thrash metal influences. Where are these kids coming from??? They make Trivium look old.
The second head-turner is Black Tide's label: Interscope. That is, the home of 50 Cent, Gwen Stefani, and Jimmy Eat World. If it hasn't sunk in yet, I'll restate: on their first record, these teenagers are labelmates with Dr. Dre. Are you jealous, or are you jealous?
Crazy thing is, Black Tide might deserve their good fortune. Most metal bands will never reach the maturity of Light From Above. It's true-blue metal lifted straight from the '80s – think Dio, Iron Maiden, Armored Saint. Thrash beats drop in at times, but otherwise it's melodies for miles. Garcia naturally sounds young, but he has '80s singing down cold. His vocals and riffs have a slight cock rock tinge, which makes sense as cock rock and power metal often intersected (e.g., Skid Row's first record).
Songwriting separates Black Tide from their peers, regardless of age. These are songs one remembers – a lost art in metal. "Give Me a Chance" is an Ozzy-esque anthem, complete with power ballad clean tones. "Light From Above" revives Iron Maiden harmonies and retro bass work. "Enterprise" also weaves guitars together smartly. Even a filler track like "Show Me the Way" uncorks tasty Van Halen licks.
"Warriors of Time" drops jaws with a luscious acoustic intro that screams "classic." Its "whoas" are old-school invocations that succeed where Trivium failed on The Crusade; its solos reincarnate Kirk Hammett's triplets in early Metallica. Subtract one point for covering "Hit the Lights" and falling short – but add half a point for even trying. It's silly for these kids to be singing about "warriors of time," but it might be apt. Will Interscope know what to do with them? They potentially have quite a long-term investment.