Black Tusk
Black Tusk's original lineup.
Background information
Origin Savannah, Georgia, USA
Genres Sludge Metal, Stoner Metal, Thrash Metal, Hardcore Punk
Years active 2005 - present
Labels Relapse, Hyperrealist, Wrecked Signal, Season of Mist
Associated acts Baroness, Kylesa, Unpersons, Niche, conquer/devour, Dead Yet?, The Bricks, Hammered Shit
Website Official Website
Current members Andrew Fidler
Jamie May
Corey Barhorst
Chris Adams
Past members Jonathan Athon

Black Tusk are a sludge metal band residing in Savannah, Georgia. Formed in 2005 by the trio of James May, Andrew Fidler and Jonathon Athon (All of which from previous bands and living on the same street) the band established a murky, chaotic mix of sludge metal, crust punk and doom with all three members sharing vocal duties. The band gained notoriety with two albums upon signing to Relapse (2010's Taste The Sin and 2011's Set The Dial) and refined themselves as a reputable act in the Georgia sludge scene, notable for their intense and energetic live performances.[1] The band often referred to their music as "Swamp Metal" which was a name that according to the band was "just something that came out" and inspired by the humid climate the band originates from.[2]

Initially a trio for most of their career the band has since evolved into a quartet as of 2018 with the addition of second guitarist Chris Adams. To date Black Tusk have released five studio albums among a host of other releases. Black Tusk have also had their work used in CSI: New York and by Scion/Toyota, and Nike in collaboration with RZA.


Passage Through Purgatory: Formation and Hyperrealist (2005 - 2009)Edit

Black Tusk formed in 2005 by the trio of James May, Andrew Fidler and Jonathon Athon, all of whom were living on the same street and moving on from previous punk bands who "all broke up around the same time".[3][4] The trio would quickly compose their debut EP in When Kingdoms Fall the same year of forming. With a demo following in 2006 featuring art by John Dyer Baizley, Black Tusk would tour Florida as direct support for Baroness that year, followed by another short tour alongside Whiskeydick. That same year the band would be recording at The Jam Room with Philip Cope (Kylesa) but be forced to release this EP independently due to legal issues. The Fallen Kingdom on 28 July 2007, with a release party being held at The Jinx (Performing with Withered and Skeletonwitch.).[5]

Following more touring the band would work with Cope again at The Jam Room, signing to Hyperrealist. Black Tusk would release their debut album Passage Through Purgatory on 5 February 2008 to positive acclaim at the time[6] and retroactively.[7][8] The band would tour with the likes of Weedeater and Valient Thorr through the year of 2008, following with the Southern Discomfort tour the next year and further touring all over the United States, performing with the likes of Irata, Stinking Lizaveta, Rotor, Black Cobra and Dark Castle among others.[9]

Taste The Sin and Set The Dial: Signing to Relapse (2010 - 2014)Edit

On 24 November 2009 it would be announced that Black Tusk had signed with Relapse Records, with a studio album set for the Spring of 2010. Prior to this signing the band had been involved with three different split releases all throughout 2009.[10] Leading up to the release of this debut album Black Tusk would tour extensively throughout the United States, sharing the stage with the likes of Skeletonwitch, Howl, Iron Age, Struck By Lightning, Weedeater, The Gates of Slumber and Pentagram among others in a timeline between late February and late May, around when this album would be released.[11][12] The band would also make notable appearances at SXSW and Scion RockFest around this time.

Taste The Sin would see release on 25 May 2010 while the band was on tour with Pentagram, with recording for the album taking place in January.[13] Set The Dial would see positive reception from a wide range of critics such as PunkNews,[14] Sputnik Music,[15] No Rip Cord[16] and Pitchfork[17] to name a few. With gaining momentum and already having been on the road for three months the relentless touring would now continue in support of this album, with frequent touring alongside the likes of Zoroaster, Fu Manchu and Crowbar throughout the rest of 2010. Also of note that November would see their song "The Takeoff" remixed by Wu-Tang Clan member RZA for the RZA Vs. Nike 6.0 video series.[18]

At the end of November it would be announced, just two months after a fall tour with Crowbar, that Black Tusk would begin 2011 touring Europe for the first time in a co-headlining bill with Howl.[19] Along with a reissue of Passage Through Purgatory via Relapse[20] work would begin on a follow-up, recording that June with Jack Endino.[21] Described as "a little less thrashy, a little slower and a lot heavier" and and album the band felt really good about,[22] Set The Dial saw release via Relapse Records on 25 October 2011, gaining positive reception from several publications such as Invisible Oranges,[23] Stereogum,[24] PunkNews[25] and NPR[26] just to name a few. Black Tusk would perform through the remainder of the year in North America alongside the likes of Mastodon, Thou, Coliseum, MonstrO and many others.[27] In an interview with No Clean Singing, drummer James May talks about the varying sounds and themes between albums:

“To categorize our albums, I think The Fallen Kingdom sounds like thrash mixed with Dystopia. On Passage Through Purgatory I think we were really trying to find out what we wanted to do as a band. Taste the Sin was definitely a thrash metal album, but not typical thrash. It was Black Tusk’s thrash, it was as fast as we go. Set the Dial is just a heavy rock n’ roll album more than anything.

Well on Passage Through Purgatory the name says it all. We were trying to decide what this band would end up being. We already have a new album in the making; we know what that theme is going to be. The concept of this one is already moving in another direction.”

— James May, No Clean Singing [28]

Throughout 2012 Black Tusk would hit the road as relentless as ever to further support Set The Dial, beginning the year with a tour in March surrounding SXSW with a wide range of heavy bands, quickly following with an extensive European tour that April and May, largely on the road with Red Fang and making notable appearances at Roadburn Festival and the inaugural DesertFest Berlin.[29] Black Tusk would return to the United States for a series of tours with the likes of Down, haarp and Municipal Waste. One more tour of Europe with Okkultokrati, a headlining tour of the States and a final Fall tour would round out a productive year for the band as work began on their next studio release. Recording at The Jam Room with Philip Cope through February[30] and March[31] before touring with Today Is The Day and Kvelertak that Spring,[32] Tend No Wounds would see release on 19 July 2013 as a bridging gap between Set The Dial and their next album. Tend No Wounds on it's own regards would gain mixed reviews, ranging from highly positive such as Blabbermouth[33] and Exclaim![34] to relatively average such as Metal Injection,[35] Punk Rock Theory[36] and Dead Rhetoric.[37] Black Tusk would support Tend No Wounds by touring Europe with Fight Amp and North America with Inter Arma.

2014 would see the band recording two songs in Brooklyn with Sanford Parker, leading to the release of the 7" EP known as Vulture's Eye on 24 June.[38] The band notably appeared at Mexico's Acheron D-Fest and SXSW before an extensive European tour with Toxic Holocaust, which included appearances at Inferno Festival and Hellfest.[39] Lastly the band would return home for Southern Darkness Fest at The Orpheum in Tampa Bay but unknown to the band at the time would be the last known performance of the original lineup. Touring slowed to begin work on the band's fourth album, recorded by Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust) at Cloud City Studios in Portland, Oregon circa October 2014.[40]

On 9 November 2014 Jonathan Athon would be in a motorcycle accident with his girlfriend in downtown Savannah, crashing into the driver's side of an Acura SUV. While his girlfriend and the two people in the SUV suffered minor injuries it had been unfortunately revealed that Athon was in critical condition and placed into a medically induced coma.[41] Sadly, Jonathon Athon would pass away that evening from his injuries due to irreparable brain damage with life supports taken off and his organs donated. Athon was 32 years old.[42]

A memorial would be held of Athon on 15 November with memorial funds to help for the other three people involved in the accident to help their medical costs.[43][44] Prior to Athon's death the band had announced a tour of Europe supporting Crobot and Black Label Society. The band was devastated by the loss of Athon and were even contemplating breaking up at one point. However they chose to keep going while recruiting a new bassist in Corey Barhorst (Kylesa, Niche) who was a longtime friend of the band, even appearing at the band's first show.[45] On 10 December the band would officially announce they were going to carry on with Barhorst as the new bassist:

“It's been an incredibly trying time for us over the past month and we want to thank everyone for their support. We had confirmed the European tour with Black Label Society and finished the new album before Athon's accident and Athon, specifically, had been very excited about the opportunity to tour with BLS and we feel there's no way he'd want things to end on this note. Corey Barhorst, formerly of Kylesa and currently of Niche, will be stepping in for Athon for the time being. All of us go back over 10 years and Corey seemed the natural choice to carry on for Athon. If you'd like to donate to the Athon Memorial Fund, you can do that via Paypal at”
— Black Tusk, Official Statement [46]

Pillars of Ash and TCBT (2015 - Present)Edit

Black Tusk would spend most of February and March on the road with Crobot and Black Label Society and returning to the continent in August, with short tours in between through May and July.[47] A fall tour with Lazer/wulf and Wrong would follow while closing out the year back in Europe alongside Bask and High on Fire, the latter touring in support of Luminiferous.[48] On 29 November 2015 Black Tusk would premiere a new song in "God's On Vacation" and announce their fourth album, recorded in 2014 and the final recordings to feature Jonathon Athon.[49] Another new song in "Born of Strife" would follow on 14 December[50] while "Desolation of Endless Times" would be unveiled on 12 January.[51]

Pillars of Ash would see release via Relapse Records on 29 January 2016.[52] Pillars of Ash would prove to be the band's most praised and accomplished release to date, garnering a score of 80 on MetaCritic to scratch the surface.[53] In regards to reviews Pillars of Ash would see positive reception from the likes of Pitchfork,[54] Consequence of Sound,[55] PopMatters,[56] Vice,[57] Exclaim![58] and Treble Zine[59] just to name a few. Black Tusk would immediately tour North America in support of Pillars of Ash alongside Royal Thunder and Bask, followed by a Spring tour with Holy Grail. To further support Pillars of Ash, Black Tusk would tour Australia and New Zealand for the first time before embarking on an extensive tour of Europe. The band would take some time off in 2017 to begin work on their next album.

On 14 March 2018 it would be announced that Black Tusk had signed a worldwide deal with Season of Mist, describing the new deal as having "opened a new chapter".[60][61] The band's fifth album (And first with Barhorst on bass and vocals) would be produced by the band and Aphelion, while engineered by Chris Adams (Dead Yet?) and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. Further details would be announced on 23 May along with a new song in "Agali"[62] while more songs would be premiered leading up to this fifth album's release such as "Burn The Stars",[63] "Scalped"[64] and "Closed Eye".[65]

T.C.B.T. (Taking Care of Black Tusk) would be released on 17 August 2018, attaining positive reception from the likes of Metal Injection,[66] Everything Is Noise,[67] The Sludgelord,[68] Metal Temple[69] and Ghost Cult Magazine[70] among others.

In an interview with Revolver, Andrew Fidler would speak about the album's recording process and channeling grief and loss of friends to cancer in the process of writing T.C.B.T.:

“[On Athon's death] He was my best friend. You know, him being gone from something that we built together is hard. But Black Tusk is still our life and my life's passion. So in Corey, we've found a great friend and we've moved forward. We don't live Jonathan's death every day, we live with it. You get bummed out at times, but then you kind of just continue with whatever you need to do.

[On other motivations in the writing process] My wife has been sick for the last year with breast cancer and that's been really hard. And we lost two really good friends to cancer this year. So that makes you kind of angry. And then you know, there's a clown running our country. There's a lot of things to be angry about. At the same time, there's still hope and things to be happy about. I'd like to think a lot of the album as the balance between those two things.

[On the recording process] We did it at home because we had a lot of family business going on. In the past, we would go off somewhere and completely immerse ourselves in the record. This time around, life wouldn't let that happen so we spent a lot of months going in and doing sessions for it. But all the songs were written together. We didn't trade files back and forth or anything. And then it only took about a month to record them, track them or fine tune them. The plan with us is we want to have everything done when we go into the studio, so we aren't writing anything there and wasting time.”

— Andrew Fidler, Revolver [71]

Black Tusk would begin touring behind T.C.B.T. that August which would include appearances at Heavy MTN Festival, RPM Fest and Stoned Meadow of Doom Fest, followed by participating in the Metal Alliance Tour that Fall. Notably Chris Adams would join the band as a second guitarist. Further touring in support of T.C.B.T. took place through 2019, beginning with a tour of Europe that included appearances at DesertFest Berlin and Desertfest London, followed by short tours of North America and an appearance at Clairvoyance. A new song in "Gallows Hill" would be revealed as part of the Savannah True Crime Compilation.[72] Black Tusk would begin 2020 touring with All Hell and announcing that they would appear at the eleventh annual Muddy Roots Music Festival.


Studio AlbumsEdit

  • Passage Through Purgatory (2008, Hyperrealist)
  • Taste The Sin (2010, Relapse)
  • Set The Dial (2011, Relapse)
  • Pillars of Ash (2016, Relapse)
  • TCBT (2018, Season of Mist)


  • The Holy Mountain / Black Tusk (Split with The Holy Mountain) (2009, No Idea!)
  • Low Country (Split with ASG) (2009, Hyperrealist)
  • Black Tusk & Fight Amp (Split with Fight Amp) (2009, Brutal Panda)
  • Black Tusk / Dead Yet? (Split with Dead Yet?) (2012, Hyperrealist)
  • Label Showcase - Relapse Records (Split with Exhumed, Revocation, Tombs and Royal Thunder) (2012, Scion Audio/Visual)

Other ReleasesEdit

  • When Kingdoms Fall (EP) (2005, Wrecked Signal)
  • 2006 Demo (Demo) (2006, Independent)
  • The Fallen Kingdom (EP) (2007, Independent)
  • Tend No Wounds (EP) (2013, Relapse)
  • Vulture's Eye (EP) (2014, Relapse / Hyperrealist)
  • Seeing Visions (Single) (2016, Relapse / New Noise Magazine)


  • James May - Drums, Vocals (2005 - Present)
  • Andrew Fidler - Guitar, Vocals (2005 - Present)
  • Corey Barhorst - Bass, Vocals (2014 - Present)
  • Chris Adams - Guitar (2018 - Present)
  • Jonathan Athon - Bass, Vocals (2005 - 2014) (Died 2014)

List of Known ToursEdit

  • Black Dick Tour 2006 (With Whiskeydick) (2006)[73]
  • Florida Tour 2006 (With Baroness) (2006)[74]
  • Passage Through Purgatory Tour (2007)[75]
  • March 2008 North American Tour (With Weedeater) (2008)
  • October 2008 North American Tour (With Valiant Thorr) (2008)[76]
  • Southern Discomfort (With Kylesa, Skeletonwitch) (2009)[77]
  • Fall 2009 North American Tour (With Black Cobra) (2009)[78][79]
  • February 2010 Mini-Tour (With Howl, Iron Age, Skeletonwitch) (2010)[80]
  • Nine-Toe Tour (With Weedeater, The Gates of Slumber, Struck By Lightning) (2010)[81]
  • Pentagram's May 2010 Tour (With Pentagram) (2010)[82]
  • June/July 2010 North American Tour (With Zoroaster, Dark Castle) (2010)[83]
  • Summer 2010 North American Tour (With Fu Manchu) (2010)[84]
  • Fall 2010 North American Tour (With Crowbar) (2010)[85]
  • 2011 European Tour (With Howl) (2011)[86]
  • Set The Dial North American Tour (Select dates with Mastodon, Thou, MonstrO) (2011)[87]
  • 2012 North American Tour (With East of The Wall) (2012)[88][89]
  • 2012 European Tour (With Red Fang, East of The Wall) (2012)[90][91]
  • May 2012 North American Mini=Tour (With Down, haarp) (2012)[92]
  • The Fatal Feast North American Tour (With Municipal Waste) (2012)[93]
  • 2012 European Tour (With Okkultokrati) (2012)[94]
  • October 2012 North American Tour (2012)[95]
  • Fall 2012 North American Tour (With Red Fang; Lord Dying, Indian Handcrafts on select dates) (2012)[96]
  • 2013 North American Tour (With Today Is The Day, KEN Mode, Fight Amp) (2013)[97]
  • Meir Tour - North America 2013 (With Kvelertak, Cancer Bats) (2013)[98]
  • Tend No Wounds European Tour (With Fight Amp) (2013)[99]
  • Tend No Wounds North American Tour (With Inter Arma) (2013)[100]
  • 2014 European Tour (With Toxic Holocaust, Downfall of Gaia) (2014)[101]
  • Spring 2015 European Tour (With Black Label Society, Crobot) (2015)[102]
  • Summer 2015 Mini-Tours (2015)[103]
  • Summer 2015 European Tour (2015)[104]
  • Fall 2015 North American Tour (With Lazer/Wulf, Wrong) (2015)[105]
  • Luminiferous European Tour (With High on Fire, Bask) (2015)[106]
  • Pillars of Ash North American Tour (With Royal Thunder, Bask) (2016)[107]
  • Pillars of Ash North American Tour (With Holy Grail) (2016)[108]
  • Pillars of Ash Australia/New Zealand Tour (2016)[109]
  • Pillars of Ash European Tour (With Red Apollo, Hark, Herder depending on dates) (2016)[110]
  • TCBT North American Tour (With Whores., White Nails) (2018)[111]
  • Metal Alliance Tour 2018 (With Goatwhore, The Casualties, The Great American Ghost, Gozu, Moretheron) (2018)[112]
  • TCBT European Tour (2019)[113]
  • Weekend With Black Tusk (2019)[114]
  • South East 2019 (With Cloak; Partially Canceled) (2019)[115]
  • East Coast Tour November 2019 (With Child Bite) (2019)[116]
  • 2020 North American Tour (With All Hell) (2020)

External LinksEdit

Official LinksEdit

Archival LinksEdit


  1. The Heavy Chronicles
  2. Guitar World
  3. Horns Up Rocks on YouTube
  4. No Clean Singing
  5. Connect Savannah
  6. Sputnik Music
  7. Exclaim!
  8. Pure Grain Audio
  10. Lambgoat
  13. Lambgoat
  14. PunkNews
  15. Sputnik Music
  16. No Rip Cord
  17. Pitchfork
  18. Lambgoat
  19. Lambgoat
  20. Lambgoat
  21. Lambgoat
  22. Exclaim!
  23. Invisible Oranges
  24. Stereogum
  25. Punknews
  26. NPR
  28. No Clean Singing accessed 22 January 2020
  30. Lambgoat
  31. Lambgoat
  33. Blabbermouth
  34. Exclaim!
  35. Metal Injection
  36. Punk Rock Theory
  37. Dead Rhetoric
  38. Lambgoat
  40. Lambgoat
  41. Lambgoat
  42. Lambgoat
  43. Lambgoat
  44. Lambgoat
  45. Under The Radar
  46. Lambgoat accessed 22 January 2020
  49. Lambgoat
  50. Lambgoat
  51. Lambgoat
  52. The Obelisk
  53. MetaCritic
  54. Pitchfork
  55. Consequence of Sound
  56. PopMatters
  57. Vice
  58. Exclaim!
  59. Treble Zine
  60. Blabbermouth
  61. Lambgoat
  62. Lambgoat
  63. Lambgoat
  64. Lambgoat
  65. Lambgoat
  66. Metal Injection
  67. Everything Is Noise
  68. The Sludgelord
  69. Metal Temple
  70. Ghost Cult Magazine
  71. Revolver Magazine accessed 22 January 2020
  72. Lambgoat
  73. Black Tusk Myspace
  74. Black Tusk Myspace
  75. Black Tusk Myspace
  77. Lambgoat
  78. Lambgoat
  80. Lambgoat
  81. Lambgoat
  82. Lambgoat
  83. Lambgoat
  84. Lambgoat
  85. Lambgoat
  86. Lambgoat
  87. Lambgoat
  88. Lambgoat
  90. Lambgoat
  93. Lambgoat
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  96. Lambgoat
  97. Lambgoat
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  99. Lambgoat
  100. Lambgoat
  101. Lambgoat
  102. Lambgoat
  103. Lambgoat
  104. Lambgoat
  105. Lambgoat
  106. Lambgoat
  107. Lambgoat
  108. Lambgoat
  110. Lambgoat
  111. Lambgoat
  112. Lambgoat
  113. Black Tusk Facebook
  114. Black Tusk Facebook
  115. Black Tusk Facebook
  116. Black Tusk Facebook
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