Black Tusk ‘Set The Dial’ CD/LP/DD 2011

Black Tusk 'Set the Dial' CD/LP/DD 2011It is always a good sign for a reviewer when you start making notes on an album and you can’t stop (although for the band in question sometimes this may not be quite such good news!). For instance before typing up my initial review I read a thread on a football internet forum I post on. Now this in itself is nothing to bore you with but I have known one of the moderators for years (in the way you know someone via the internet, never having met them) and he has a great taste in music. The fact that this album came up in his top ten records of the year speaks to the strength of ‘Set The Dial’.

For me Metal is all about rebellion and aiming a large boot to the knackers of those who would try to tell you otherwise and thankfully in this whiny, po-faced era Black Tusk have come to do exactly that.

‘Brewing The Storm’ positively strides out of the speakers, the distorted fuzz of Jack Endino’s (Soundgarden, High On Fire) production is a bass players wet dream as the sound is all rumbling low end product and as dirty as a set of clean white sheets after you have gone out and gotten shit-your-pants-drunk, but never loses the feel of the music as it breaks into a hypnotic beautiful snaking groove… And then it’s gone as ‘Bring The Darkness’ yanks you out of the mellow mood you were settling into and pulls you head first into the pit with its triple layered, screaming vocal attack.

Musically it is like fellow label mates High On Fire meets Mastodon meets Iron Maiden meets Slayer meets, well all kinds of musical touch stones galore really, but at no point are they derivative of anyone. What they are is high octane riff merchants shaking the earth with a mission statement and this continues with ‘Ender Of All’ with its foul mouthed, heads down driving fury that says ‘Yes this is big and bold, no we don’t apologise’.

When they do let their foot off the peddle for the stomp of ‘Carved In Stone’ it is just as impressive as the bug eyed frenzy and at the risk of using the same adjective in two reviews in a very short space of time, the cacophony generated by the Savannah trio is something to behold.

The band walk a tightrope between crazed and being supremely tight – at time it seems like they have so many ideas that they are tripping over themselves to get to the next one and I love it – the raw enthusiasm that drips from this record is fantastic.

Just when you think the band are in danger of being one trick and unable to do subtly then along comes instrumental ‘Resistor’, all mellow before breaking out into a similar type of riff to the one at the being of the album – the kind that makes this reviewer stare bitterly at the guy with male pattern baldness in the mirror and curse the lack of hair to shake at the music.

Ultimately this record may not be perfect, but the reality is that I usually reserve some kind of constructive criticism at the end to temper early enthusiasm and here I cannot find anything of worth to mention – the album is a joy from start to finish and as a reviewer it’s always great to have a genuine surprise land in your lap – not just something you listen to a few times for the purpose of writing a review.

The review on their Myspace page of their previous release ‘Taste the Sin’ states that Black Tusk “rips into you with locomotive riffing and powerful percussion, creating a furious display that incorporates the fury of punk and the precision of thrash metal within a familiar Southern-fried landscape” on the strength of Set The Dial they are continuing that legacy!

Label: Relapse Records

Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden