Split Review: Black Tusk’s Pillars of Ash and Savagist’s Invisible Birth of Death

What unites Pillars of Ash and Invisible Birth of Death?  One is straight-ahead, the other a more varied metal palette.  One band is little-known on a small label, the other Relapse road warriors.  But both bands are from Georgia, they’ve shared the stage, and coincidentally their promos appeared in my email inbox around the same time.  So here goes!

Pillars of Ash (January 2016, Relapse Records) is Black Tusk’s final recording with founding bassist and vocalist Jonathan Athon, who passed away in an tragic motorcycle accident in November 2014.  The band describes themselves as sludge, but on this work I heard thrash and hardcore punk.  It maintains an urgent pace throughout — a kick in the stomach, a PBR in the air, back to another kick in the stomach.  But the rousing riffs belie dark lyrical content, based around death and the afterlife:  “The Wretched and forlorn, will cross these wasted fields,” the band sings on “Born of Strife.”  “Of rocks and dust and face the sky and / Embrace the Grey and Eternal Light.”

Invisible Birth of Death, released today via Deathbound Records, is an album of more twists and turns.  Savagist uses changing tempos and time signatures to take listeners on a journey from Mastodon to The Mars Volta.  The final track “Black and Endless” is a perfect example of this, with a delicate intro giving way to throttling riffage.  That song isn’t online at the moment, but “Nourishment for Larval” will give you the idea:

Personally I was more a fan of Savagist’s brand of Georgia sludge metal than Black Tusk’s because there was a lot more variety in the music.  However, both albums were enjoyable and I’m sure Black Tusk puts on a hell of a live show.  Speaking of which…

black tusk tourUpcoming Black Tusk Tour Dates (with Holy Grail)

  • Feb 23 Charlotte, NC  Milestone
  • Feb 24 Virginia Beach, VA  Shakas
  • Feb 25 Philadelphia, PA  Kung Fu Necktie
  • Feb 26 Boston, MA  Once Ballroom
  • Feb 27 Brooklyn, NY  Saint Vitus
  • Feb 29 Burlington, VT  Nectars
  • Mar 01 Quebec City, QC  Le Cercle
  • Mar 02 Montreal, QC  Foufounes Electriques
  • Mar 03 Toronto, ON  Hard Luck
  • Mar 04 Detroit, MI  Berserker Fest
  • Mar 05 Chicago, IL  Reggies
  • Mar 06 Madison, WI  High Noon Saloon
  • Mar 07 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock
  • Mar 08 Fargo, ND The Aquarium
  • Mar 09 Winnipeg, MB  The Windsor Hotel
  • Mar 11 Saskatoon, SK  Amigos Cantina
  • Mar 12 Edmonton, AB Brixx
  • Mar 13 Calgary, AB  The Palomino
  • Mar 14 Kamloops, BC The Office
  • Mar 16 Vancouver, BC The Biltmore
  • Mar 17 Seattle, WA  El Corazon
  • Mar 18 Spokane, WA  The Pin
  • Mar 19 Portland, OR  Panic Room
  • Mar 20 Bend, OR  Volcanic Theatre Pub
  • Mar 22 Santa Cruz, CA  Catalyst
  • Mar 23 San Fransisco, CA The Parkside
  • Mar 24 Los Angeles, CA  Viper Room
  • Mar 25 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick
  • Mar 26 Phoenix, AZ Pub Rock
  • Mar 27 Las Vegas, NV  Divebar **No Holy Grail**
  • Mar 28 Salt Lake City, UT  Metro Bar
  • Mar 29 Denver, CO  Marquis Theater
  • Mar 30 Kansas City, MO  Riot Room
  • Mar 31 St. Louis, MO  Fubar
  • Apr 01 Indianapolis, IN  5th Quarter
  • Apr 02 Newport, KY  Southgate House

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