Black Tusk - Tend No WoundsBlack Tusk

Tend No Wounds

01. A Cold Embrace
02. Enemy Of Reason
03. The Weak And The Wise
04. Internal/Eternal
05. Truth Untold
06. In Days Of Woe

[Relapse Records]

Black Tusk have always had that “spur of the moment” feel about them. From the minute guitarist Andrew Fidler and bassist Jonathan Athon knocked on their neighbour’s door and asked if he wanted to be in their band, there has been this sense of freedom about the way they operate. Their music is the same. It is almost flippant in its design – oozing simplicity; laughing in the face of their Savannah brethren’s experimentalism. Consequently, they have very rapidly built up a consistent catalogue of thrash-streaked punk n’ sludge that, when performed, can lay waste to any venue.

This latest EP is more of the same. It rolls its way into town like an unwanted tumbleweed and will inevitably depart with a trail of running, screaming, laughing fans behind it. It is essentially another big call to arms and its two-minute instrumental opener ‘A Cold Embrace’ is the no frills ringleader. Of course, they’ve gone for nothing more than a thundering drum roll and a scampering riff to start snapping necks – they simply aren’t a band who ever over-eggs their pudding. From here, they quickly lay their cards on the table and like some messed-up cross between Hatchet and Black Cobra they proceed to trample over any resistance you might have left. Immersed in this crushing sludge, you get a feeling for the force and the fury they are capable of producing. Being such a straight-up blueprint, the only guide you have along this journey, is the hollow, ambiguous vocal of Fidler – the semi-crazed lunatic laughing at you from atop this impenetrable wall of scrawl. He has a trick or two, but he’s no magician; there is no puzzles to be solved here.

As with all their releases, there are those moments when you know the band are merely toying with you – do listen out for these mind-bending anomalies that seem to pop up from out of nowhere. Here, they come in the form of elegantly-bowed violins on the curiously anomalous intro to ‘The Weak And The Wise’, and in the dense, slothful majesty of the Mastodonic two-guitar, two-chord riff that jump-starts and powers ‘In Days Of Woe’. When they throw in things like these it seems to matter not that the bulk of their EP is unlikely to be committed to memory. Their faster, punkier material is music written to be played live anyway – they are the songs that will get you banging your heads. These other standout curios are the songs that will strike the match that lights the moshpit touchpaper.

Tend No Wounds isn’t an essential purchase, yet this unspectacular EP serves its purpose as a nice little stop-gap between albums. Certainly with tracks like ‘In Days Of Woe’ and the vicious, call-and-response bludgeon of ‘Enemy Of Reason’, it does have material that will ignite their future set-lists – fans take note. It looks like further proof that Black Tusk do always write the music that they want to write. It matters not that, over the years, they have played second fiddle to the majority of other sludge metal bands out there. They aren’t ambiguous, they don’t do pretentiousness. What you see is what you get and most see an outfit rapidly becoming a much-loved institution.


Black Tusk – Tend No Wounds gets…


– JS

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