This Black Tusk article was written by James Cousins, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Ben Kendall.
When tragedy strikes and hits at its hardest, there’s only one thing to do, build strength and strike back. After the death of former bassist/vocalist Jonathan Athon, and some time spent on the road gathering themselves,that’s exactly what Black Tusk have done.
The release of ‘Pillars of Ash’ sees the band’s first studio album since 2011. With new member Corey Barhorst on the bass, the Georgia-based trio have produced an album that gives us fast paced heavy metalmusic with punkrock style lyrics. This is what we have come to expect of the band and ‘Pillars of Ash’ does not disappoint in that respect.
‘Pillars of Ash’ is a good album, but it’s not without a long list of faults. One of the problems is that all three members take it in turns on vocals, which gives the song, and in turn the whole album, a very back and forth uneven feel to it. The music is good, and would probably be better if they had just left the vocals out all together in some cases.
Most tracks are barely three minutes long, so it’s a very short album. Just as you feel you might be getting into a track it stops, which gets a little frustrating. Each song on the album has a very similar sound to it, like the band weren’t quite comfortable trying new things with the new band member in place. It felt more like they were trying to get an album out to give something to the fans instead of an album that band had spent time on perfecting.
It’s not all doom and gloom, there are a couple of songs on ‘Pillars of Ash’ that stood out positively. ‘Bleed on Your Knees’ is a strong heavy metal track that you can only imagine left the band’s instruments covered in blood from hitting them so hard! The track is better structured than most of the others; a good intro which gets your ears perked up and listening, and more music than vocals makes it much easier to follow. Along with ‘Born of Strife’ which also flows better most of the other tracks, giving us a killer riff, and sticks with one vocalists for the most part saves this album from total failure.
Black Tusk ‘Pillars of Ash’ is heavy, rough, quick paced and just like a teenage boy about to lose his virginity; it feels like it’s over before it’s really begun. However, they have delivered a sound that we’re used to, kept the mix of heavy metal and punkrock, and re-reminded us all that they’re not like any other band out there and very much trying to create their own sound. The album is good, and will interest any metal fan looking for a new and unique sound – and if you’re a fan you won’t be disappointed.
‘Pillars of Ash’ is out now via Relapse Records.
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