I did not grow up listening to heavy music, but started to garner an appreciation for it in my later years of college and into my time in graduate school. Perhaps it was the air of frustration and stress that helped make dejected and angry music seem more appealing? The specific subgenre of metal that drew me in the most was sludge metal, with its combination of punk rock aggression and down-tuned distortion of doom metal. It is a style that wallows in a despondent groove, one that is largely devoid of the self-indulgent guitar theatrics that are a mainstay of a lot of heavy metal. One of the bands of the sludge metal style that first pulled me in was Savannah, Georgia's Black Tusk. They started out as a three piece with Andrew Fidler (guitar), Jonathan Athon (bass) and James May (drums). One thing that really drew me in was each member of the band would provide vocals to the songs, their varying vocal styles helping to add an interesting texture and variety to the songs. The band released four awesome full length albums before the untimely passing of Athon in a motorcycle accident in 2014. The band decided to continue on after the tragedy, honoring their fallen brother-in-arms with more gnarly riffs and pummeling drums.
April 2024 will see Black Tusk releasing their second full length album since Athon’s passing, aptly titled The Way Forward. The first single from the album is called “Brushfire,” and it feels right at home with their rollicking legacy. “Brushfire” is able to take the murky oppressiveness of sludge and make it surprisingly catchy. This new album adds both Derek Lynch (bass) and Chris Adams (guitar) to the line-up. “Brushfire” is apparently Lynch’s first time performing abrasive vocalwork and you would not be able to tell it was his first foray into the territory. The song is over in a brisk 2 minutes and 22 seconds, but that means you can just start it over and listen to it again! I am excited to hear what else The Way Forward has to offer. April 26th cannot come soon enough!
Buy Black Tusk’s music here!