A bit of a new look for Black Tusk on this one, as this Georgia trio puts out its first new record since replacing the late Johnathan Athon with ex-Kylesa bassist Corey Barhorst. But while the lead singer might have changed, the song largely remains the same—despite some slight variations, their brand of thrashy, sludgy swamp metal remains intact on TCBT.
After an eerie spoken-word intro, “Closed Eye” kicks things off with a two-and-a-half-minute platter of pissed-off punk. “Agali” is noticeably lighter and over a minute longer, sounding closer to the driving, atmospheric sludge of Kylesa… albeit with a more venomous vocal. The pounding intro of “Lab Rat,” a number that’s over four minutes, also reminds me of Kylesa, although they do take a more aggressive approach from there, with some call-and-response hardcore vocals.
“Scalped” offers an interesting transition, a nearly five-minute number with a keyboard heavy intro and outro. Yet, even with the bell-tolling effect, it’s a pretty in-your-face hardcore number, sounding like very early Neurosis with some of the slow breakdowns and tempo changes. The building intro to “Ghosts Roam” also has a bit of a Neurosis vibe, before they once again settle into a mostly mid-paced hardcore stomp, which takes an eerie turn around the 2:45 mark.
Their hardcore roots still shine through on tunes like “Ill At Ease,” the mosh-pit tailored “Rest with the Dead” and “Whispers” before ending on a (somewhat) lengthier note with the Kylesa-tinged barnburner “Burn the Stars.” While this one isn’t quite as compact as its rapid-fire predecessor Pillars of Ash, it’s worth noting that not one of the 12 songs on here is longer than five minutes.