The first thing I did when I heard Athon had passed away…well,…the first thing that I did was cry. After that, well, I cried a little more. After that, though, I thought that the mighty Black Tusk couldn’t go on. After a bit of time, I heard that Corey Barhorst (Niche, ex-Kylesa, Tonto (is Tonto still a thing? man, I really liked them)) was going to play bass on the already booked European tour supporting Black Label Society. “Okay,” I thought, “Corey’s a great musician and it makes sense for them to do this tour.” Then I saw the online tour diary and the band spreading their friend’s ashes in the places that he loved to tour and play. Black Tusk has always thrived live and reviews from the tour confirmed that hadn’t changed one bit. I began to think, “How could they not go on? It makes perfect sense.”
Saturday night’s return to The Jinx was everything I expected it to be: capacity crowd of familiar faces, great local support from Prone and Bottled Violence, PBR and whiskey flowing, metal tunes curated by DJ Metal Rob, some tears, and at the center of it all a killer live set from Andrew, Corey and James. Though Athon’s outsized personality was undoubtedly missed, the band didn’t miss a beat, and it made me realize that they really had three front men, all capable of carrying the band, and they still do. Andrew has maybe taken on a bit more of the traditional front man role (or maybe it was my imagination), but the outfit is still a power trio in every sense. The new songs sounded great, too, although there is still no release date for the record made before Athon’s passing. I can’t wait to hear it.
Black Tusk is dead. Long live Black Tusk.