A stop-gap E.P. before the next full length release; Black Tusk are about to return with “more polished rock based tunes”. I must admit, when I read that in the press kit for this collection of six new songs from Black Tusk; well it put the fear of God in me!
Black Tusk have often played the undercard when it comes to the Georgia based stoner-sludge scene over the last decade or so. While bands like Mastodon and Baroness have moved away from the raw sound of the beginnings of the scene, Black Tusk have stayed behind with both feet firmly in the swamps. A more polished rock sound, then, can only mean one thing: they’ve ditched the grit and gone all Nickelback on us!
Panic not, although there is some evidence of progression into a cleaner sound, Black Tusk are still sounding filthy to me.
‘A Cold Embrace’ kicks things off. An instrumental introduction to the E.P. it’s a track that builds and builds into a towering monolith of guitars. There’s a rattle and whine to the strings similar to Karma to Burn’s instrumental output of late. A cracking start to proceedings.
Things step further into classic Black Tusk territory with ‘Enemy of Reason’. A dirty sounding track with typical call and reply vocals, perhaps with a slightly more urgent feel than we’re used to hearing.
There’s a groove to ‘Internal/External’ that proves quite addictive. The track is slightly slower to accommodate the extra bounce and it makes it that little heavier and perhaps the standout track from this little lot. A cleaner sounding guitar does battle with the scuzzy riffs to great effect.
‘Truth Untold’ marks the biggest change in sound. A more rock based riff and general feeling accompanied by Black Tusk’s trademark vocals. It’s a hard rock tunes but played through a few dozen Black Tusk filters.
So, we didn’t have to worry at all. There is some evidence that Black Tusk’s sound has progressed from the swamps a little. All in all it seems to be for the better. The band are still smashing out some real dirty riffs with plenty of scuzz and fuzz. Any new snippets of new sound and direction only add extra strings to the Black Tusk bow.
‘Tend no Wounds’ is out 23rd July on Relapse Records.