Black Tusk: Taste the Sin

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Black Tusk: Taste the Sin
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Black Tusk: Taste the Sin
Sludge Metal
Relapse Records
May 25th, 2010
Release length: 34:08
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Taste the Sin is the second full-length album by the George-based band Black Tusk, whcih formed back in 2005. This release is a highly enjoyable one and seems to show some progression in the band since their first full-length effort back in 2008. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the band has issued three split releases since then. While this act plays a rather unique brand of Sludge, they have begun coining their music “Swamp Metal”, which in essence sounds lame, but when you actually listen to the music, it does become a little more obvious as to why they gave it such a title due to the heavy Southern influence in their music. Either way, it’s still Sludge metal, and no matter what, it’s still an enjoyable effort.

The music on Taste the Sin does a good job at bringing a rather “backwater” southern feel to the mix in plenty of the songs, such as with the track “Red Eyes” which has guitars that sound like a rather generic banjo riff just played faster then it would be normally, and on an electric guitar with the distortion amped up pretty high. This track is one of the best off the album, and really winds up being more of a proper vocal blueprint for the album that, sadly, isn’t quite followed throughout. The vocals that Black Tusk incorporates into this release are more of a high pitched yell then anything else when the album starts with “Embrace the Madness”, and in many songs, such as “Way of Horse and Bow”, sound remarkably close to the sound of the vocals on many Rage Against the Machine releases, such as the track “Guerilla Radio”, primarily during the chorus, but with some extra effort thrown in at times.

However, “Way of Horse and Bow” also features something that “Red Eyes” captures and the first two tracks of this release, as well as others, seem to lack: Lower vocals. Hearing these lower vocals mixed in with the higher pitched yells sounds good, but when it’s just yelling, it becomes overkill. It’s clear that this music would benefit greatly from having a deeper vocal approach added to it. There also winds up being a formula to how these vocal styles are organized through the release. The more upbeat (for lack of a better word) and faster tracks on this release typically have the yelling vocal style used. The more “upbeat” and faster paced the track, the more yelling you’ll hear. When things really start to slow down on this release is when you’ll begin hearing mixtures of the higher yelling and deeper commanding vocals. Of course, “Unleash the Wrath” violates this, but only because it incorporates distorted spoken words as if put through a speaker phone on low volume. It happens once through the whole song, and that’s it as far as the vocals go for that track. Luckily the song is great and works well as more of an instrumental anyhow.

Musically, this is a solid album. Each song is rather unique and stays in the general atmosphere that “Embrace the Madness” creates. While the yelling vocals will sound awkward at first, the more you listen to the album, the more they will grow on you and make you realize some songs, like “The Crash” simply need that style of vocal work for it to be a good track. This song, however, does wind up blending the two main vocal styles already highlighted, but without the yelling it wouldn’t be as effective a song. “Embrace the Madness”, however, and “Snake Charmer” are both really good songs musically, though the yelling does kind of kill things a bit in the long run. Other then that, “Red Eyes” and “Way of Horse and Bow” are easily the best tracks on here, and really wind up defining the band through the deep Southern instrumental work and the usage of the lower vocal approach. While many of the songs on Taste the Sin move at either a mid or fast pace, “Unleash the Wrath” will really catch your eye as it’s a much slower song that has the ability to use the heavily distorted guitars to create a song that the listener can just lose him or her self in from start until it picks up pace, then it’s just an excuse to start moshing wherever you are, or at least breaking anything nearby.

With a great production of being slightly on the raw side with heavily distorted guitars and perfectly executed drums, Black Tusk have created an album that leaves you wanting more, but still happy with the end result. While Taste the Sin starts off a bit rough with the overkill use of yelling vocals, it winds up picking up after “Red Eyes”, leaving you with a good chunk of great southern Sludge that sometimes has a unique sound all it’s own. Fans of the band will be happy with this outcome, and newcomers will find great joy with this style as well, but the band still leaves listeners wanting a little more out of them, whether it’s the vocals for the song, or a lack of the band-coined “swamp” metal aspect of the music.

01. Embrace the Madness – 3:11
02. Snake Charmer – 4:15
03. Red Eyes, Black Skies – 3:45
04. Way of Horse and Bow – 3:43
05. Unleash the Wrath – 3:39
06. Twist the Knife – 3:37
07. Redline – 2:42
08. The Take Off – 2:32
09. The Ride – 3:03
10. The Crash – 3:45
Overall Score: 8/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Relapse Records.