Published Oct 24, 2011Black Tusk's second Relapse disc (fourth overall) isn't exactly full of surprises, with the Savannah, GA-based sludge band doing their rough'n'tumble take on Baroness and Kylesa, filtered through stoner rock ambitions and streamlined rock aggression. There's something so foot-stompingly, base-level enjoyable about this band, and here they've taken all that they've done so well in the past and boiled it down to even greater levels of caveman-esque simplicity, all pounding bass drums loud in the mix and riffs so good that you just want to hear them again (which works out, because they'll play them again). You know, a song ends, the next starts and it's the same tempo, rhythm and awesomeness as the last, with some exceptions ("Mass Devotion" has a good slow crawl to it). I love how sometimes it seems like they just forget to sing for a few minutes at a time then hop back into it, seemingly without a care in the world, apart from rocking out. Baroness getting a bit too lofty for you lately? Here you go, a band that essentially distil that group's most listenable Southern sludge into a digestible form while also going head to head with Eyehategod's riffs without the, at times, intolerable negativity associated with sludge.
To me, the album is quite similar to your other stuff. How is it different to you?
Drummer James May: It's a little less thrashy, a little slower and a little heavier. We really let these songs breathe this time so we could get a bigger sound ― sometimes less is more. We would describe this one as more of a heavy rock album.
It feels more concise and comfortable. Do you feel that's the case?
Definitely. At first you start a band with some idea of what you like and want to sound like and your sound develops from that. As the years have gone by, I think we've got a pretty good idea of what Black Tusk are.
I offhandedly described you as a "listenable Baroness" recently. Do you think that's accurate?
It's up to the listener to describe the sound of a band, ultimately. When you're writing, it's best to just play what you think sounds good. If that's what you hear when you listen to us, who am I to say you're wrong?
What are we setting the dial to? 11? Destruction?