Black Tusk were last seen at The Star and Garter in April and so it’s fair to say that the band were impressed with the UK’s dedication to the riff. This time round, they took the headline spot with black sludge lunatics Okkultokrati as main support and local filth merchants Arke and Jacknife Holiday opening.
Unfortunately, the gig didn’t get off to the best start being sandwiched between Baroness and Municipal Waste’s returns to Manchester. This meant a disappointingly low turnout (especially seeing as Municipal Waste tour once a week) that luckily didn’t discourage the bands who put on a series of powerful performances.
Opening the night were scuzzy newcomers Jacknife Holiday. Playing sludge that’s heavy on the core, Jacknife blasted away that ‘weekday gig’ feeling with a sound that reflects the sordid, dingy side of the city they were in.
The most captivating aspect to Jacknife was their seemingly unhinged vocalist Eytan who draws evident inspiration from EyeHateGod main-man Mike Williams. The backbone of the band were tight and clearly knew their Sabbath from their Sabbat as they stomped through an aggressive and intoxicating set.
Going down a gentler but none the less engaging route were Manchester’s own Arke. The band had quite a unique sense of humour with numbers such as ‘Brown Love’ about, well you can guess, being delivered to a bewildered but entertained audience.
Arke aren’t exactly an original band, sounding similar to many groove rock bands from the US, but their more aggressive take on the Clutch sound was certainly well delivered. Their singer Taz Dirania seemed particularly influenced by the Maryland mob, adopting Neil Fallon’s swagger to full effect.
The fact Arke couldn’t have cared less about how many people were in the venue made them shine as a live act. Their set was performed to a minimal response but they played with such raw enthusiasm that it’s unlikely this is the last ‘big-name’ tour you’ll see them gracing.
Main support Okkultokrati had a totally different vibe to Arke, with an unholy concoction of old school hardcore, sludge and black metal making them the filthiest band of the night.
Opening with the apocalyptic ‘On Mouths of Hell,’ Okkultokrati were clearly out to make an impression, with bassist La Ghast in particular seeming hell-bent on making the crowd know his band are something different.
The mix of styles used sound familiar in the modern musical landscape but few bands can touch the level of all out chaos that’s made by these Norwegians. This was helped by the fact the band seem genuine in their passion for dirty, unpleasant music and anything associated with that feel.
It was the newer numbers which made the most lasting impression with some crushing bass tones and droning guitar that created a Scandinavian black hole in The Star and Garter. Vocalist Black Qvisling was also in fine form, swinging his mic stand around to release some aggression.
Okkultokrati provided the ultimate support set to show bands how aggressive and primal music should be played.
Closers Black Tusk delivered more of a party atmosphere than what was been before them. Mixing thrash, sludge and groove drew in the, until then, stale crowd and forced their attention.
The band delivered a set of clichés such as the drummer announcing ‘this one is about going to Hell’ but this somehow proved part of their charm. Other things that’d normally make people cringe like unison guitar moves seemed to make perfect sense, highlighting the uniqueness of the band.
The three vocal led assault of Black Tusk was the main driving force behind the band, giving them a varied set of textures to work with. This also upped the ante for faster numbers which made for an energetic ‘all or nothing’ type set.
Closing with the monolithic ‘Crossroads and Thunder,’ Black Tusk kept things short and sweet, winning over the crowd and bringing the night to a triumphant end.
Scribed by: Alex Varley
Photos by: Lee Edwards