For a pretty long time now, Georgia has had a healthy and diverse metal scene, with a long list of stellar bands offering their own unique variation on meaty Southern sludge. Harvey Milk does it with alternating bleak drones and ZZ Top-influenced boogie. Kylesa does it with a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic sound and two drummers for added density. And Baroness does it with a classic rock melodic sensibility. But Savannah trio Black Tusk keeps it pretty simple, sticking to a reliable and impossible to ruin path of hardcore ferocity and Melvins-style churn.
Picking up pretty much where 2010’s Taste the Sin left off, the band’s new album on Relapse, Set The Dial, finds them working with Jack Endino, who has turned knobs for veteran grunge acts like Mudhoney and Soundgarden, as well as some of today’s better metal bands, from Skeletonwitch to High on Fire. The pairing proves to be an unsurprisingly successful one, as Endino extracts a deliciously thick and murky sound from the band, maximizing the fuzz in their accessibly heavy sound.
Yet the songs themselves, this time around, sound just that much stronger than before. With an opening chant of “Six! Six! Six!”, the rollicking rager “Bring Me Darkness” channels fellow Savannah rumblers Kylesa at their most direct and brutal. “Ender of All” boasts more lightning riffs and badass rock ‘n’ roll swagger, a quality that pairs well with Black Tusk’s straightforward and sludgy brand of metal. Yet there’s an atmospheric quality to the opening riffs of “Mass Devotion,” showcasing a bit more depth and ambience amidst a sea of blood-drenched power chords.
Black Tusk’s Set the Dial isn’t overflowing with surprises, but that is, by no means, a bad thing. They’re pretty kickass at what they do, and while their music is often a blunt object rather than a sharpened one, it packs one hell of a wallop.
Stream: Black Tusk – “Bring Me Darkness”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.