Following the death of a cofounder, Savannah metal band Black Tusk emerge heavier than ever | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Following the death of a cofounder, Savannah metal band Black Tusk emerge heavier than ever

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Savannah-based swamp-metal band Black Tusk took a terrible hit in 2014, when their bassist and cofounder, Jonathan Athon, passed away following a motorcycle crash. Prior to the accident, the trio had largely finished recording their fifth album, Pillars of Ash, and with Athon’s lines already laid down, his bandmates were able to complete the process for a release on Relapse in 2016. That makes the new T.C.B.T. (for “Taking Care of Black Tusk”) the group’s first full-length without Athon, but Corey Barhorst, best known as the longtime bassist of Black Tusk’s friends and neighbors Kylesa, steps up admirably; bass is crucial to the band’s sludgy sound, even more so when they pick up the pace with speed and aggression informed by their hardcore roots. There's some quality raging against the dying of the light going on here: note the sizzling guitar work on “Closed Eye” and the crushing unity of the rhythm elements of “Ghosts Roam.” It’s as if by rearranging themselves around a loss, they woke up a giant beast—and that beast woke up pissed. Along with that newfound intensity, the band’s live lineup is now thickened and densified by the addition of sound engineer Chris Adams on second guitar.   v

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