‘Light from Above’ falls flat and dark

The worst of hair band metal meets the garage band version of Creed in Black Tide’s album, Light From Above.

The album debuted last month as the Miami-based metal band kicked off its 18-month tour. Black Tide is not much more than a typical hair band. The only thing less surprising than this album’s monotony is the fact that it does so little to push the envelope of its genre. The group sounds more like an opening act for a Winger cover band than a group that will be touring the United States and England.

There are many people who can appreciate most genres of music, as long as the music is compositionally intriguing and showcases some sort of range from the artist – but this album does none of that.

From the first track to the last – which doesn’t come soon enough – it’s difficult to tell one song from the next. Each is complete with the same instrumentation package of a V-shaped Dean electric guitar, drums, bass and the auto-tuned Gabriel Garcia on vocals. On top of that, the tempo of each song is almost identical and the transitions are predictably similar from one track to the next.

The second cut of the album, titled “Shout,” sounds like a continuation of its predecessor, “Shockwave.” It was impossible to discern a change in tracks. This would be fine if the two were somehow related lyrically, but the first is about a killer and the second instructs its audience to “scream their hearts out,” with a lot of redundant attempts at inspirational talk mixed in.

It’s disappointing that – at times – the group makes valid attempts to mix up the sound, but then returns to the same monotonous metal drive of the previous song.

The song “Warriors of Time” opens nicely enough, with beautiful acoustic guitars over a steady but refreshing rhythm that has more percussion than the usual drum kit. However, it quickly turns back into fast-paced hair-band rock after it reaches the one-minute mark. The lyrics on this particular track happen to be the worst of the entire album – which is unfortunate, since it’s also Light From Above’s longest song.

The album’s lyrics are almost as redundant as its music. Listeners are guaranteed to hear the chorus repeated a bare minimum of three times between some dark lyrics about gore, sex, battle, suffering or light beaming from somewhere to carry the lead singer away.

The most ear-grabbing chorus, simply because of its perverted nature, comes on the song “Let Me” when lead singer Garcia shouts, “Let me have you / let me touch you / let me get inside.”

One might expect lyrics this heartfelt and emotionally touching to be accompanied by a balladic sound, but they’re not. The band sticks with the monotonous power rock groove of early ’90s surfing videos that the rest of the album boasts.

Around the time I started fantasizing about torching the room with a box of matches and a can of WD-40, the album began to wrap up.

Surprisingly, Light From Above ends with two nice transitions that show that the band can play something interesting between its usual metal grooves. On “Black Abyss,” the power rock slows down momentarily into an arrangement of strings and melodic acoustic guitar before breaking back into the main chorus. While the bridge was short-lived, it was at least nice to hear Black Tide show a glimpse of range.

The final track of the album starts fairly well, juggling back and forth between what sounds like the group’s remix of Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” and their usual brand of high-powered guitar. About halfway through, Black Tide moves the song to a different place by injecting some piano and a fresh guitar part into the mix before returning once again to the album’s standard sound.

Overall, I’d say this album stays safely within its genre and takes few musical risks. It may fly with hair band lovers, but it does little to prove the band’s musical range to listeners outside of metal music. The lyrics are sub-par, sounding most of the time like something anyone could write after a three-day whiskey binge.

By the end of the album, I felt relieved – and a little bit like shaving my head and vomiting on the next person I saw wearing a black T-shirt and a pair of acid-washed jeans with the knee ripped open.

Composition: D-Originality: D-Overall: D-