BlackT]Storming out of the growing catalogue of kick arse bands signed to the ever more impressive Relapse label is this latest EP from Black Tusk, a power trio very much in the vein of High On Fire hailing from Savannah, Georgia.  In the eight years they’ve been going they’ve managed to fire out four full length albums, as well assorted EPs and splits, an admirable volume of work.  So with this new release, how have they developed?  Read on.

Whilst back in the days of ‘Passage Through Purgatory’ Black Tusk might have wallowed in the sludgier end of the genre, with ‘Tend No Wounds’ they seem to be embracing faster and harder riffs, no longer relying on low end reverb, but exploring rockier arrangements, and all the better for it, as far as I am concerned.  ‘Cold Embrace’ opens up the assault, a sub 2 minute instrumental that sounds like it would be the prologue to a real pit building song before it cuts off all too soon.  Instead that intensity is delivered in the simple punk shouts of ‘Enemy of Reason’, a number that I’m sure delivered live, with its in your face stripped back sound, would have me and like- minded music fans crashing around.  ‘The Weak and the Wise’ deceptively slows down the pace with an intro apparently composed of creeping violins and cellos before the angry vocals scream out and the riffage storms through, this five and a half minute track being the clear stand out for me, both in terms of ambition, and simple passion, displaying the sort of intensity and attitude that Corrosion of Conformity practically trade-marked back in their ‘Technocracy’ days.

Every one of the six tracks on this  EP has a raw feel that makes it sound not sloppy or hasty, but rather delivered with a raw simplicity that is meant to be reproduced live without frills in the sweaty clubs that are surely the natural home of such an audio assault.  Whilst not brimming with innovation, what Black Tusk has produced in ‘Tend No Wounded’ is a pretence free showcase of stripped back power.

(7.5/10 Spenny)