Black Tusk – Set the Dial

Black Tusk - Set the Dial Black Tusk

Set the Dial

01. Brewing the Storm
02. Bring Me Darkness
03. Ender of All
04. Mass Devotion
05. Carved in Stone
06. Set the Dial to Your Doom
07. Resistor
08. This Time is Divine
09. Growing Horns
10. Crossroads and Thunder

[10/25/11]
[Relapse Records]

For quite a while now, Georgia has breed its fair share of bands that all utilize that brand of southern-tinged music, albeit to a much heavier degree. Bands like Mastodon, Baroness and Kylesa have made a name for themselves and despite their different paths, they’ve all retained certain characteristics such as massive hulking riffs, booming vocals and an all around gritty sound. And in the case of their backwater brethren, Black Tusk, they are no different. But what sets Black Tusk apart from the other bands is there no holds barred approach to writing high-energy hard rock/metal music that bodes well their overall hell raising attitude. And with the release of their latest album, Set the Dial, Black Tusk continue that formula, bringing back that southern hospitality which will undoubtedly have you banging your head and stomping your feet!

If you’re at all familiar with any of Black Tusk’s previous albums, then you will feel right at home with Set the Dial. First off, it’s cool to see them once again incorporating the talents of John Baizley for their album art, the dude does solid work. Secondly, the album boasts the trademark sludgy down tuned power chords and cascading walls of percussion and their signature brand of primal, triple-vocal, chromatic madness. Their songwriting, which combines aspects of sludge, metal, hardcore and old-fashioned southern rock is presented in an intense yet accessibly fun package. A main feature of Black Tusk, which I’ve always found to be one of the bands strong points, has always been the fact that all three members contribute lead vocals that range from piercing wails to low bellows. Their triple-vocal approach meshes well with the varied nature of the bands sound.

Now it’s only been a little over a year since the release of their 2010 album, Taste the Sin, and you might be asking yourself, why in the hell did they release another album so damn fast? Well, I don’t have an answer for that, but rest assured this album is in no way lacking, and I actually feel it’s more enjoyable than Taste the Sin. To be fair though, the new album does fall victim to the lack of diversity amongst each song, which is what plagued Taste the Sin. But for some reason I’m not bothered as much or bored by the songs on Set the Dial. The album wastes little time with rocking the hell out as the opening instrumental track, “Brewing the Storm” sets the initial tone for the rest of the album. It begins with a slow build up of chugging riffs and pounding drums which then flows into a groove induced jam of all the instruments before leading into the hard-hitting “Bring Me Darkness”.

After a few play-throughs of the album, it’s easy to pick up on some of the similarities they have from other bands. Songs like “Ender of All” has quite a Queens Of The Stone Age feel to it, mainly the delivery of the guitar and drum combination, and “Carved in Stone” and “This Time is Divine” features both vocal and guitar arrangements that remind me of Kylesa at times. “This Time is Divine” also features low bellowed vocals that are very reminiscent of Mastodon, but the track manages to separate itself from its fellow Georgian brother with its overall punk rock feel. A highlight of the album has to be “Crossroads and Thunder”, it’s a fitting track for the albums closer. It’s fast and heavy all the way through and has one of the catchiest/grooviest endings to a song I’ve heard all year. Kudos to Jack Endino (Soundgarden, High On Fire, SkeletonWitch) for the superb production on Set the Dial. Every instrument is clear, audible and manage to hold their own throughout the entirety of this album. It’s a surprisingly clean sounding album that doesn’t diminish the gritty nature of the band.

There’s about a little over a half hour of music on Set the Dial, but this will be nothing new to fans of the band, as most of their albums tend to be quick listens. But lets be fair, when you listen to Black Tusk, what you get is short, hard-hitting songs that don’t pussy foot around, but instead go straight for the jugular. It’s another solid release from these southern boys, and while this album doesn’t do much in terms of being ground breaking to the genre, it’s an enjoyable listen for those just looking to rock out!

Black Tusk – Set the Dial

3.5/5

– DA