In 2014, Jonathan Athon‘s motorcycle hit an SUV and he was then pulled off life support. His death could have meant the end for Black Tusk but his two bandmates decided to continue their mission of playing crust induced stoner and recruit a new member, Corey Barhorst, previously of Kylesa. Although Kylesa has since moved to a more doomier sound, this mix of influence brings him to the days of To walk a middle course but with a more direct, Motorhead backbone.
For Black Tusk, this album is a new start and one that sees them play a more powerful and intense music than before. The crust side of their sound is in full blown on an album that also seems to have been guided by another recently departed, the late Lemmy Kilmister. Ghost may follow this band but they are offering inspiration rather than desperation. The grittier sound that moves the riffs and the ring of every cymbals sounds truer and more powerful than before. Truth be told, I never paid attention to them before this release, and listening back to their earlier albums nothing hits me as hard as this album does. Joel Grind (of Toxic Holocaust fame) finds a great balance between the soulfulness of the bluesy solos (Born of strife) and the agressivity of the D-Beat.
Although some of the song slow the pace down a notch and remind this listener even more of Kylesa‘s early recording (Bleed on your knees, Black tide), this haunted record goes more to the jugular and does not let up until it hits a bit after the 30 minutes mark. Black Tusk has been through a lot and that’s probably why on this album and they have a lot to say.With evocative song titles like Still not well, Beyond the divide(« Beyond the Divide we must ride / Reach for the voices from the hallowed light ») or Walk among the sky, it’s hard not to hear how much they have been affected by the loss of friend. Nonetheless, they prevail and conquer all with eleven songs of brutally honest crust and sludge.