Best Local Album of 2015

Black Tusk, Pillars of Ash

It’s been four months since the release of the Savannah metal band’s final recording with Jonathan Athon, founding Black Tusk bassist who passed away last year from to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.

Looking back on the highly-anticipated release, guitarist/vocalist Andrew Fidler is deeply pleased with his, drummer James May, and Athon’s final recording together, and is glad that Black Tusk’s rabid fans were, too.

“I feel like it went over quite well,” Fidler remarks. “It got a lot of attention, being Athon’s last record—you have to acknowledge that—but the record stood up by itself. It’s the best thing we’ve done to date.”

A landmark release for the band, Pillars of Ash is 34 minutes of unbridled hardcore punk-infused sludge metal. Having toured that material for months with new bassist Corey Barhorst, the band’s ready to start writing new material.

“There a bit of a learning curve for all of us,” says Fidler of writing with Barhorst for the first time. “It’s pretty natural. We play so well together, it’s like putting the other show on.”

Black Tusk will play its first Savannah all-ages show in years this weekend at Sulfur Studios. To Fidler’s memory, the last time folks under 21 could get into a SAV Black Tusk show was the DIY spot at The Pony Pen’s second-to-last show.

“It was ridiculously packed,” he recalls of the house gig. “We had to set our pedals and mic stands inside James’s drum kit and put the mics between the cymbals. I remember being so hot and sweaty, I couldn’t get a firm stance!”

The merch table will be equipped with advance copies of Taste the Sin reissue cassettes. Fidler looks forward to hearing their first release as a band the old-school way—as soon as he can find a tape player.

“Someone broke into my car and stole my tapes and stereo. So I’ve got all these tapes in my house, but I’ve been trying to find a tape player to hear it!”

With two Tusk babies—Fidler’s son just turned one, and Barhorst and his wife, Amber, just welcomed a baby girl in April—the importance of all-ages shows seems to be a priority now more than ever. The May 28 show at Sulfur Studios is an early gig—new band Lies In Stone will kick it off, followed by Cray Bags and Black Tusk. Doors are at 7 p.m., so get there early to wish our Tusk boys well before they head off to New Zealand and Australia for the first time as a band.

Runner-up, Best Local Album: Mountain Buzz, The Accomplices

Runner-up, Best Metal Band: Kylesa