Tides / Giant - Split (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Tides / Giant

Split (2008)

Level Plane

Though I found Tides' 2006 EP, From Silence, only a promising followup to their 2005 full-length, Resurface, it was still decent enough. But after catching them live earlier this year, I now know where their true power lives: live and in person, in dingy, dark bars where their swelling guitars, budding atmospheres and colossal thrust can be best conveyed from stacks of ear-shredding amps and its audience awash in a mild buzz.

On their side of a three-song, 26-minute split with the fairly similarly-minded Giant, Tides largely reinforce the truth to that idea. However, that's not to say "The Invisible" and "Unfinished Highways" are bad tracks -- just not quite the overwhelming feat achieved by their live show. "The Invisible" zeroes in on a repetitious, left speaker riff with a cool, steady hand on the drums, but theres' little-to-no pickup in the sound level until about six minutes in; Tides spend the next few minutes yawning guitars to a moment where you think the payoff has arrived, but the band delay it for another minute or so. Finally, everything comes together for a mini-crescendo that isn't quite the reward one expected, but was interesting to listen unfold. "Unfinished Highways" is all tense acoustic guitars building to a fuzzy cacophony and then stripping back down over the course of three and a half minutes. Curious and compelling, but not necessarily colorful.

Giant's single contribution is the track "Horned and Blind," and while they're also wielding another type of bleak metallic soundscape, their version reminds me more of the Ocean. They fill out their sound a lot more, with heavier guitars, some strings and overall plenty of stuff to put through your headphones. A piano lends itself to the introduction while creepy single note-heavy organ layers itself elsewhere. Their vocalist spits a demonic growl that's less low-end than what one might be used to hearing. Not all of the nearly 13-minute song demands attention, but even the last few minutes offer plenty of changes among its peeling away layers, riff diversions and patterns.

The Invisible
Horned and Blind [clip]