Album: Black Tusk – Taste the Sin

by Jack Diablo
I can’t help but comment on the rather obvious conclusion that many people will make when hearing Black Tusk quite possibly for the first time. They’ll see the John Dyer Baizley album cover, they’ll possibly have read the recent article on the Savannah “Sludge” scene, they’ll no doubt have noticed their recent acquisition by Relapse Records and they will be looking for comparisons to Baroness.
I had honestly never really listened to them before I received this new album but I was able to catch Bottled Violence, their Minor Threat cover band at last year’s Bury Your Bike so I had a feeling they would be way grimier and more physically intense than their brethren. But when the album started, Baroness was all I could think of. No sooner had I begun to question their integrity, when they completely switched it on me.
On ‘The Crash,’ Black Tusk are all like, “Oh, you think this sounds kinda like Baroness? Is that what you wanted to hear? Well check this shit out. How about some metal-punk? Here’s a little Thrash! Now STFU and take some notes!”
Actually, that song is the last track but just so happened to show up first on the stream Relapse provided me so perhaps it wasn’t as intentional after all. Would have been pretty cool though.
And from there any and all references to Baroness are present only to the small but inevitable and expected degree to which such intimately linked outfits are unable to prevent but made all the better by. Whereas Baroness tends to be more cerebral and conceptual, Black Tusk has more energy and balls. Way more punk rock with that infectious kind of heaviness that demands participation, furious, unbridled, almost violent participation, yet still steeped in that Southern metal crustiness we love so much!
While it’s great to see a regional band reach a higher level of success and exposure, it bums me out that I missed out on experiencing them in a mess of sweat, blood and filth at a packed-out Shantytown show or better yet, a rager house show. It’s bittersweet when bands like Black Tusk outgrow the places that helped shape who they are. They deserve the success but for the fans that knew them before, things can never be the same.
There are those who didn’t miss out on those incredible performances who will lament those by-gone days even more than I regret missing out on them completely and it is quite possible that the sentiment will carry over into their perception of this new album. But I think there will be more who find them to be a great band getting even better. For what it’s worth, I’ll be buying this album now that I’ve heard it and only partly due to the annoying beeps that Relapse has been inserting into their lo-res promos lately. But honestly, I would have quite possibly bought it anyway.