Following on from their 2010 release “Taste the Sin” Georgia metallers Black Tusk return with more of their formidable metal, thrash and hardcore punk sounds in the blistering shape of fourth album “Set The Dial”, the Savannah trio once more exploding with thumping direct riffs and rhythms loaded with attitude and punk intent skewered with strong veins of sludge metal and urgent thrash. Throbbing with uncompromising riffs and power the album continues the ferocious sounds and intensity the band has become acclaimed for but this time shape it with more precision and clarity without losing any of its effectiveness or energy. It does not venture a mile from the bands core sound but does offer a little more scope and variety to the music even if it is not anything particularly unique. Though the band is labelled as being sludge metal on “Set The Dial” the threesome of Andrew Fidler, Jonathan Athon and James May rampage with stronger metal and punk instinct and sound though it comes as if filtered through some thick glorious southern rock.
It is impossible not to be sucked into the sound with its irresistible primal rhythms and bestial riffs speared by some addictive and intrusive sonic grooves. The whole album pulsates and beats at the senses with giant sounds but though it is powerful and unrelenting also brings an equal melodic flavour that, though deeply acidic, balances the album perfectly. Sound wise Black Tusk and the release ripple with essences of Mastodon, Kylesa, and Torche whilst their punk aggression especially vocally from the three way equal attack, carries a definite early Beastie Boys/ RATM flavour and intensity. The band though turn these all into their own generous and large violently thumping mesmeric sounds brought forth with great touch and distinction by producer Jack Endino (Soundgarden, High On Fire, Skeletonwitch, The Accüsed, Nirvana).
Opening instrumental ‘Brewing The Storm’ sets the pace with a wonderful deep dirty bass and southern twanged groove that lures in the senses, its brief urgency thrust aside by the contagious ‘Bring me Darkness’. The song is driven forth upon rumbling bass riffs and drums that resonate within the ear eagerly while the guitars stab with their razor sharp chords. Instantly it is unleashed its unbridled pleasures mark it as favourite track and ultimately not to be displaced, even though at times it is pushed for the honour.
‘Ender Of All’ leaps to the fore next throwing instantaneous addictive drum beats and simple riffs at the ear to pleasure deeply. Musically the track, as is to be fair the whole album, is tight and uncluttered and at times just pure simplicity, simple in construction and the clear representation of the distinct elements of the members, making an impressive overall sound. The fact it is so straight forward without throwing in intricate and complicated indulgences makes the album a beast that feels natural and organic, an album that plays with no pretence or delusions.
The tracks come thick and fast, each probing and drumming up eagerness for more of the hypnotic sounds and beats. ‘Carved In Stone’ with its grinding and attitude soaked energy, ‘Set The Dial To Your Doom’ loaded with scything guitars and stoner grooves, and the slower sludge doom sounds of ‘Mass Devotion’, all hit hard with their distorted guitars, merciless riffs, and pummelling aggression. There is no weakness across the ten tracks on “Set The Dial” to be honest, each song bold and prominent in their own individual ways.
“Set The Dial” might not be the most ground breaking release, far from it and if being over critical it could be said the album falls a little short of what Black Tusk suggest they have within their inspiring sounds and ability, but it is one meaty and satisfying album that riles up the senses and gets the pulse racing. That is all one needs from any album and this release hits the mark dead centre.