Tusk – Tree of No Return

Tree of No Return

I’m stunned. It really isn’t every day that a music reviewer hears a record that actually shocks their ears by its sheer existence. Here we have members of the instrumental band Pelican, known for sprawling Pink Floyd meets Swans style epics, proving once again that we should check our expectations at the door. I had read tons of things about this record before I heard it and I was prepared for just about anything. Some magazines compared it to The Locust, but there really isn’t another band that sounds similar, not even among the hordes of keyboard toting rip-offs. No, in fact Tusk sounds like no other singular band but itself, and that is always a positive aspect to even the worst bands.

Tusk has created a conceptual grindcore record that not only borrows from one of the best templates in that genre, Discordance Axis, but throws in the oddball character and kitchen sink dynamics of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band. The record is a mere five tracks long, but have no fear as many of them stretch the time constraints of grindcore to the absolute limit. The songs are extremely fast one minute and then break down into some of the most psychedelic interludes this side of an Iron Butterfly record. Singer Jody Minnoch’s vocals sound like typical grindcore during the fast parts, all fever-pitched shrieking at its most punishing. During the psychedelic breakdowns, the vocals veer way off into the “forest” sounding like none other than good ol’ Gollum himself ranting about his “precious.” Sometimes it can seem a bit over the top, but at the same time I found myself enjoying it more than I probably should have.

The entire grindcore genre can get to be a bit limiting after a while, and it would be very interesting to see more bands push the limits of its speed and volume with interesting parts such as the ones presented here. Anyone that enjoys grindcore will probably find something to enjoy here. I usually find myself getting bored by about the fourth track unless it is really good stuff. Fortunately for me, Tusk only included five tracks here, as I stated previously. This record should solidify the band’s place in the world of metallic grind right next to Pig Destroyer and Agoraphobic Nosebleed if it falls into enough hands. I’m not totally sure if the whole concept about trees eating people in the forest is supposed to be a joke, but nevertheless it is more than entertaining enough to hold my attention. Thumbs up dudes.