with praise pouring in for new “Pillars of Ash”, Black Tusk plays The Jinx

Black Tusk will be at The Jinx tonight — and it’s obviously not the swamp/sludge/stoner metal trio’s first time at their hometown bar.

But every Black Tusk show in Savannah carries a greater weight these days. The band tours so much in the U.S and internationally that they play only a couple of shows per year at The Jinx. And every move the band makes is part of the ongoing story of loss and recovery, inspiration and rejuvenation after Athon’s passing in 2014.

Black Tusk is now touring in support of Pillars of Ash, their latest album on Relapse Records. These are the last songs that Athon recorded with the band — and the critical consensus seems to be that this is the best record that Black Tusk has ever done. (Tom will have a review here at hissing lawns soon.)

From Zoe Camp at Pitchfork, which gave the record a really strong 8.2 ranking:

Pillars of Ash doesn’t alter the formula of the past two albums, but rather accentuates them with doubled-up aggression; slip on a pair of headphones for the album’s 35-minute duration, and your ears’ll be ringing for an equally long period of time. […]

Of course, source material is everything, and Black Tusk’s refusal to repeat themselves makes for a dynamic, diverse listen: a welcome respite from the paint-by-numbers paradigms that often dominate the modern inclination of the “swamp metal” the group helped pioneer alongside fellow Savannah natives Kylesa and Baroness. […]

With Athon’s passing, this LP may mark the end of the Black Tusk we fell in love with—but it’s the highlight of the band’s catalog, and the best tribute they could have imagined. There’s no telling what the future will hold for Fidler, May, and Barhorst as they soldier on without their friend and anchor, but judging from the sound of Pillars of Ash, their spirits are far from crushed. And Athon’s? Well, he’ll live forever, with every press of the play button.

Here’s what NPR said after the release of the new single “God’s on Vacation”:

But Black Tusk brings the past into the present the only way Black Tusk knows how, with burly, Slayer-slashed riffs, gut-curdling wah-wah, an unrelenting rhythm section and trashy-as-hell hardcore-punk hooks. Produced by Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind, it has a raw urgency that recalls Black Tusk’s 2008 debut, Passage Through Purgatory, but redoubles its power.

For local previews of the 2/6 show, check out articles by Bradley Mullis in Do Savannah and Anna Chandler in Connect Savannah.

Sometime in the latter half of 2015, The Jinx rehung some of the art and posters and weird memorabilia on their walls. One of the additions was a photo that Jinx owner Susanne Guest Warnekros requested from me before Athon’s memorial service. It’s good to see it there, but it will be even better to see it there on a night when Black Tusk is performing a few feet away.


Tonight’s show is presented by New Noise Magazine and includes Royal Thunder, Savagist, and Bask. Click here for the Facebook event.