Black Tusk, Set The Dial

This one gave me some difficulties.

I hated it at first.

And I like Black Tusk a lot, don’t get me wrong.

I liked the previous LP, Taste the Sin, I saw them live and thoroughly enjoyed their show, particularly their energy– I don’t even care how much they sound like Kylesa.

I went so far as to write most of a review of my hating it, which I discarded. Here are the high (low) points:

“Brewing the Storm” starts with a cool, low-gain sludgy-disco riff, and then proceeds to play it too long…. “Bring Me Darkness” starts with a “six-six-six” chant over a riff that starts great but by 1:32 has overstayed its welcome.
vaguely malevolent, apocalyptic sorcery lyrics comically contrast with lightweight, almost whimsical southern metal.
no great power here; sound like kids

Then I think I had that click experience. I was listening to Set the Dial wrong.

Black Tusk–

are a comic book band!

Now, this is said not with disdain but with love– as someone who loves and still reads comics.

Like most characters in comic books and graphic novels– they’re larger than life and not really meant, generally, to take seriously, but, in an odd way, are just as serious about their art as anyone. E.g., “Yeah, I’m writing about things we both know don’t exist, but I’m using them as serious props.”

Maybe this will sum up my paradigm shift: Set the Dial is like the experience of going into a Haunted House commercial attraction for Halloween– and not an actually haunted house (like, say, listening to Reign in Blood might be).

It’s not gonna found any religions, but it will scare [rock] the shit out of you while you’re listening.

“Carved in Stone” great, as is “Set the Dial to Your Doom” and “Crossroads and Thunder” [in retrospect, the song titles should really have tipped me off as to the tongue-in-cheek-ness on display here]; the sound overall of Set the Dial is much more stripped-down, production-wise, than previous LPs– it’s almost live-sounding, and it really suites their music:  the energy and enthusiasm I saw them display live actually comes through the speakers.


  1. Baizley’s art fascinates me, in that he always uses the same (extremely unusual) themes (nude women, snakes, dogs or suggestions of them)… I would love to give that guy a few psych. tests.

  2. Just blasting it now on Spotify… I wasn’t with you on the Kylesa soundalike statement until I got to Carved In Stone. Wowsa, the vocals are so much like Phillip Cope’s, it’s crazy. This Time It’s Divine borrows a few sonic tricks too.

    I quite liked Taste The Sin but thought it was a bit B-tier compared to Kylesa and Baroness. Fun but a bit meatheaded.

    Set the Dial is less heavy but is oddly more enjoyable. The riffs feel barely there sometimes, just shapes in the fuzz but they do have the indefinable “rockingness”.

    Definitely a shift into more stoner rock territory but it suits them. I like them more now it’s more tongue-in-cheek.

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