Friday, April 29, 2016

Album Review: Red Tide Rising - "Voices"

Red Tide Rising, under the auspices of wishful thinking, sounds like it might be the title of some 1960s proto-Cold War propaganda documentary about how Americans have to keep a vigilant eye out for Bolsheviks.  In truth, Red Tide Rising is an upstart band from Colorado who yearns to make the collective listening audience remember when mainstream metal was cool.  Their new EP “Voices” is a tour-de-force in the modern metal of the turn of the millennium, a chronicle of that which we had forgotten in the labelling of bands.

It’s rare in modern music to encounter a band who defies the conventions of subgenre qualifiers, rarer still in metal.  Yet here we see a band who, much like Rob Zombie in the late ‘90s is simply playing ‘metal,’ which is refreshing when every other new band has to be labelled ‘death-‘ or ‘black-‘ or ‘doom-‘ or some equally empty epithet.

And yet here we are, the strains of “Voices” reminding us of a simpler time in metal, when a band could be heavy without needing a gimmick or a particular visual accompaniment.  In the wake of Disturbed, Korn and Staind (who were entangled in the machinations of the popular radio gears) coloring people’s opinions of baseline metal, occasionally for better but often for worse, it’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of currency in this brand of music.

So we begin with the first of the five songs, “Writing on the Wall” which characterizes much of the experience of Red Tide Rising as a whole.  This is a band comfortable in their skin, playing within themselves and demonstrating an understanding of what they want to accomplish.  “Writing…” pounds with dedicated fury, but intelligently does not reach beyond its grasp; the song may not wow with technical proficiency, but it doesn’t really need to, either.  That’s not that this is about.  These are pieces that are meant to impart energy to the listener through the use of big riffs and powerful chords, and the band presents that idea extremely well.

While that musical idea continues through the five cuts, the other striking impression that Red Tide Rising imparts is the idea of righteous, uncompromising anger.  The transition of rock and metal toward songs exclusively about partying and women and drugs, all performed with a sardonic smile, was so subtle that most accepted it as fact without question, but “Voices” reminds us that this was not always the case.  “You’re Nothing (But Shit)” is an honestly angry song, both in the razor’s-edge music and the disaffected vocals, burning with conviction and free of bullshit posturing.

Total tangent – bonus points to “Voices” for having cool cover art.  That kind of thing seems to matter less and less in the stupid digital era, but I’m personally still a sucker for good cover art and good line art to boot, of which “Voices” has both.

The only real drawback of this effort is that it’s too short.  Five songs does not an adequate sample size make, and both as a potential fan and actual critic there is a desire for more, and quickly.  “Voices” illustrates a simple, charismatic premise of metal and executes in a way that is both groovy and infectious.   With that said, Red Tide Rising’s new compendium is well worth the time and effort, a solid promise of more greatness to come.

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