Black Tusk

Tend No Wounds EP

Written by: AP on 01/12/2013 10:06:18

Unlike many of their peers - viz. Baroness, Kylesa et al. - who have grown softer with age, Black Tusk continue to remain a rather brutal sludge metal proposition, their touch of the experimental confined to such simple inclusions as a string section at the beginning of "The Weak and the Wise" off this latest EP "Tend No Wounds". Much and more that was heard on the trio's previous output since 2007's "The Fallen Kingdom" still persists, and whether or not that is a welcome reality depends largely on your personal affection toward the band.

To me, Black Tusk are a band best experienced in the live setting, as the gnarly nature of their music is brought truly to life through sheer volume and confrontational energy. That is not to say that a song like "Enemy of Reason" here cannot be appreciated on record; but you should not expect boundaries to be pushed, nor genre conventions to be challenged. Given Black Tusk have just one guitar at their disposal, their riffs are obviously dominated by chords - an approach which captures the style and atmosphere of their hometown, the sludge metal mecca of Savannah, GA, well via a rumbling, murky low-end that occasionally, such as on the standout "The Weak and the Wise", allows those Southern blues influences to bleed through, and three-pronged vocals alternating between the dirty growls of guitarist Andrew Fidler, and the more hardcore influenced yelling of bassist Jonathan Athon and drummer Jamie May. Indeed, the sound of Black Tusk is not unlike the Copenhagen based Barricade, who doubtless have distilled considerable influence from these self-proclaimed swamp metal maestros.

There are moments, such as the magnificent "Internal/Eternal", with its distinctly Lamb of God-esque intro and unsettling lead melody, and "In Days of Woe", which dabbles with a trippy, doom-infused stoner metal palette, during which Black Tusk expose their teeth and claws with harrowing efficiency, resulting in songs that sound as threatening as they look in the live setting. But simultaneously, the EP has great difficulty in constructing a lasting memory imprint. These are songs you'll hear and instantly bang your head to in approval; but when asked to recall why you enjoyed them so, you're likely to be hard pressed.


Download: The Weak and the Wise, Internal/Eternal, In Days of Woe
For the fans of: Barricade, Bison B.C., High on Fire
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.07.2013
Relapse Records

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