Hailing from the same stomping grounds of the once great DAMAD and the later Kylesa, Black Tusk has been cultivating their sound for years through intense touring, several EPs, splits and one other full-length. One thing’s for sure, they’ve put in their time and since their last full-length, Passage Through Purgatory, in 2008, have sure been busy. I’ve caught their live act a few times and the energy of the two frontman, Athon and Andrew on stage is matched by few. Fast forward to 2010; the year after Baroness’ Blue Record and Kylsesa’s Static Tensions and Black Tusk is looking to make a bigger name for themselves with Taste the Sin. It’s hard to not draw strong similarities between Kylesa and Black Tusk but I think there’s more to this band than worshiping their home-town friends.
The dueling vocals and sudden pauses in “Embrace the Madness” is something that always translates well to their live performance. It’s a powerful track that engages the listener right off the bat. Followed by “Snake Charmer”, a song that evokes the spirit of High on Fire and early sludge of the 90′s. Once again, Athon’s and Andrew’s vocals battle it out, one responding to the other in a madness-inducing entanglement like two cobras wrapping around each other. Like a nightmare, “Red Eyes, Black Skies” marks itself on the scorched Earth as a epic war cry. A straight up 2-step battering ram!
Continuing the good times, Taste the Sin delivers track after track and once you hit “Twist the Knife”, goosebumps arise on your arms and you realize one thing: maybe these guys are embracing the spirit of Kylesa? Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so. Many bands have precedents and it only makes sense that Black Tusk would be into one of the bands they looked up to going to shows. I think the one thing that differentiates them from Kylesa is the heavy use of percussion. Maybe it’s the mastering, but James’ drums interplay with the riffs and bass lines so well. It’s hyper-evident when comparing Static Tensions to Taste the Sin with the latter being much darker and heavier.
Every album has its high point. Most albums start off strong and fade out, leaving you with a case of metal blue balls. That’s not the case with Taste the Sin. The last three tracks are all correlated and straight up rip! “The Take Off”, “The Ride” and “The Crash” tell a story. A time-lapse of events that lead to the album’s ending. “The Crash” doesn’t even have to try at this point. They’ve got you hooked and at the first howling vocal line, you’re ready to fuck some shit up! Do I hear D-Beat? Yes.
One thing’s for sure, Black Tusk’s crust-infused, sludge fest Taste the Sin doesn’t have to try to be anything special because it already is in my top 10 list of 2010. The water in Savannah, Georgia is breeding some fucking killer bands. I can’t wait to hear their next split and catch them live again! It’s a highly-recommended album.