December 6, 2011 | , | 4

Black Tusk, Set the Dial

Black Tusk: Set the Dial

Hailing from the same home state as Mastadon, Baroness and Kylesa, Black Tusk are the one band in the bunch that has changed the least over the years. With their second album from Relapse Records (fourth overall), the Savannah, Georgia band continues with the brand of southern, swampy sludge metal. Set the Dial is nine songs — plus one of the catchiest intros ever — chock full of stoner groove and scuzzed out sludgy riffs. Bottom-end, heavier than heavy riffs dominate overall as bowel shaking rhythms set a solid bass for multiple group vocals and head-nodding worthy flow.

Let’s start off with that album opener, “Brewing the Storm.” If the whole album carried as much groove as this infectious intro, then I’d never listen to anything else. Sadly, however, we don’t hear anything as catchy until much later in the album. That’s not to say there isn’t any groove to be found in the tracks between, it’s just that they are mired thick in the buzzing riffs and an overall dense production. There’s a thunderous rhythm that permeates tracks like “Bring Me Darkness,” “Carved in Stone,” and “This Time is Divine” along with catchy melodies and raw, raspy vocals — every member of the band gets in on the shouting act throughout the album.

Amongst the swampy sludge are moments of levity that seem to lift the band out of the quagmire as evident on “Ender of All” and “Mass Devotion.” There’s just enough of these moments to keep the buzzing guitars from becoming stagnate or droning on. They also remind of the band’s contemporaries (Kylesa primarily) without aping the style that has also made those bands more well known and accessible.

It’s not until “Resistor” that the opening groove from the album opener slowly infects your skull and won’t let loose it’s addictive grip on your spinal cording, banging your head for you regardless of whether you really want to or not. It’s a kick as song which oddly enough is also without vocals. I don’t believe that’s a coincidence as I thoroughly enjoy the delivery these guys have — it suites their thick riffs and rumbling rhythms quite well.

Throughout Set the Dial we are reminded of the vibrancy from a scene that has spawned so many great acts. Black Tusk is another such band that, while holding true to their original sound, is ever so slowly branching out, expanding their repertoire at a rate that suits them just fine — and me, for that matter.