Black Tusk

Pillars of Ash

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The Motörhead/Melvins-loving, Savannah, Georgia-based stoner/sludge/punk metal unit's much anticipated sophomore studio outing, Pillars of Ash is a straight-up haymaker of an album; an oil-stained middle finger rising out of the brackish water of a swamp forest. The last Black Tusk offering to feature bass player Jonathan Athon, who passed away in November 2014 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, the 11-track set is both workmanlike and punitive, and its charms are rank and crust-lined. Stand-out cuts like "God's on Vacation," "Black Tide," "Still Not Well," and "Desolation in Endless Times" are blast furnace-forged and spilling over with pit sweat, and what they lack in melody and nuance they more than make up for in pure, groove-laden hardcore goodness. Like their fellow Peach State decibel-pushers Baroness, who also had to overcome a bout with misfortune, Black Tusk have found that the best way to distill despair is via absolute volume, and Pillars of Ash is defiantly cacophonous.

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