Royal Tusk is a band on the rise that you need to know about. The band’s second full-length album, Tusk II, is set to release on October 26th via Entertainment One. This album is a great blend of punk, metalcore, and bluesy rock. Much like Clutch, these guys rely on heavy riffs and have an incredibly high level of technicality. Sandy MacKinnon, the bands bass player, stated that “a lot of ‘rock’ today sounds like people forgot that it’s supposed to be driven by loud guitars. That’s something we have to bring back”. I could not agree with that statement more, and Royal Tusk makes that goal obvious on this release. The album contains a lot of anger and aggression, heavy riffs, and musicality.
The first song on the record, “First Time”, sets the tone for the entire album. The song has a great build up in the intro that culminates into a solid guitar/bass riff and then explodes. The vocals are aggressive and angry, but clean. The range is absolutely spectacular, as it is through the entire album. The chorus of this song is absolutely huge and resonates in a very impactful way. The song is catchy and intricate, a solid set up for the 9 tracks that follow.
“Aftermath”, the lead single on this album, is a song that has been stuck in my head for weeks now. It made a strong first impression for me of the band, to say the least. Their dynamic musical talent is on full display. From the opening, the lead guitar riff runs over a driving bass line and drums, in a stop-chord feel. This continues into the verse, where the band hits heavy in unison, to have only the drums continue to back the vocals. By the time the song hits the hook, the whole band is back with a massive sound that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.
My favorite song on the record is “Under”. This track has a really sick, heavy punk rock feel. The intro has a really cool vocal feature with only guitar behind it on stop-chords. The drums come in to fill during the verse and builds up to a chorus that pushes ahead, with a great vocal performance. This song is one of the best on the record lyrically and it really resonated with me as an emotional track. Another song that seems destined for exposure is “Reflection”. In addition to the heavy, driving chorus, it features an amazing bass line that takes center stage during the verses. The chorus is very progressive as well, changing timing and integrating several riffs. Another track of note is “Die Knowing”. This song is driven by a groovy jazz-like bass line that has a different feel from the rest of the album. The vocals are solid on this song as well with some really cool effects and background vocals.
“Freedom” is one of the heavier tracks on the albums. This song features a great use of silence in the transitions and another larger-than-life chorus. The guitar line in the chorus is really the focal point, as the lyrics are drawn out while the guitar moves melodically in the background. The breakdown of this track reminds me a lot of Soundgarden- with the great high, clean vocals, melodic riff, and the heavier tone. “Control” is probably the heaviest song on the album. The song features heavy riffs that slow down into a clean break that almost feels like it’s coming in half time, picking back up just as quickly as it slowed. “Stowaway” features several really cool riffs that drive throughout the song. My favorite aspect of this song comes in the refrain, where the vocals, guitar, and bass all hit a run in sync with one another. “Long Shot” brings the album to a feverish close, much like it started, and ends on a held out chord that leaves you wanting more.
I received an advance of this album and listened to it three times straight through. I found myself unable to put it down! Royal Tusk is going to make waves with this collection of music and should be viewed as mandatory listening for anyone interested in hard rock, metalcore, punk, or progressive music. Make sure you don’t miss Tusk II, available everywhere on October 26th!