As much as I hate to dispense sweeping generalizations, I feel pretty confident in saying that, were one to hand me a sludge metal album with artwork by Baroness’ John Dyer Baizley, there’s a very good chance I’m going to like it. Center that record’s point of origin within Savannah, Ga., and its chances even go up a little. Release it on Relapse and it’s all but guaranteed. So I made a very non-controversial judgment call in thinking that I was probably going to like Black Tusk’s second album Taste The Sin, well before I actually heard any of the music on the album, and as it turns out, I found its thick riffage and pounding rhythms sufficiently badass.
Savannah’s Black Tusk stirs up a meaty sludge metal rumble, much in the vein of their hometown comrades in Kylesa and Baroness. Yet, there’s a simpler, less atmospheric or intricate aesthetic at play on Taste the Sin. It’s a dense and chugging rumble, rooted as much in hardcore as it is in metal’s own thunderous traditions. On “Red Eyes, Black Skies,” the band balances fiery metal riffs with punk rock breakdowns that could lead a harmonious combination of horns in the air and bodies getting a good pummel in the mosh pit. Leadoff track “Embrace the Madness,” meanwhile, is a burly call to arms, with threats such as “Rip your face off!” being howled atop its jagged power chord assault. And the overdriven scratch of “Way of Horse and Bow” actually brings to mind my first true gateway into metal-Helmet. Suffice it to say that the song does an adequate job of testing the listener’s limits with only a few chords.
Black Tusk keep their approach simple, but forceful. Delving out massive, rumbling riffs in ample supply, the group never runs the risk of conceptual, prog-rock excess, a la Mastodon’s most recent album. No sir, this album is simply 35 minutes of punchy guitar and fist-pumping rhythms. I’m going to make another non-controversial statement and suggest that you’re most likely going to like it.
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.