Thursday, February 29, 2024

Song Highlight: Black Tusk - Brushfire

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!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Under the Dice Fest 2024


On the last weekend of January, I was fortunate to be able to attend Under the Dice Fest 2024, a small festival in Massachusetts celebrating miniature-based tabletop wargaming. The festival was designed to appeal to those who shy away from the mainstream iterations of the miniature wargaming hobby, focusing on those who want play the games on their own terms, sometimes outside of the scope of the game rules as written, or those who want to play old games which are no longer supported by their publishers. It is highlighting those who are more concerned with telling a story with the miniatures they build than with creating something that would be optimal in terms of a game’s rule system. A punk rock approach to the miniature wargaming hobby, if you will. Beyond the opportunity to play games like Mordheim (a fantasy skirmish game released in 1999 by Games Workshop, set in the remnants of a city destroyed by a comet), a host of musical performances were planned for Saturday evening. The musical guests were from around the New England area and thoroughly rooted in the underground music scene.