Distracting myself from yet another job application some time between last Tuesday and Thursday (time blurs with all the excitement), I thought I’d see what MetalSucks had to say to cheer me up. Instead, the leading story was that Jonathan Athon, vocalist and bass guitarist for Black Tusk, had just died in a motorcycle accident.
Damn, there goes a quality band and by all accounts a cool dude.
Damn, no more chances to see them live.
Damn, no more albums.
Damn, no more Black Tusk.
These thoughts, besides not necessarily being accurate, are by–and–large selfish, and my concerns pale in comparison to those of his friends and family. But that headline was a heart–sinker, and thinking about it still brings on that kicked in the guts feeling. It’s hard to write a eulogy of any particular insight upon someone I′ve never met, and there is already one such piece here by Kim Kelly, so I’ll just write about what Black Tusk mean to me.
Black Tusk aren′t as big as they deserve to be (I′m sticking to the present tense as I′m unwilling to write them off so abruptly and possibly prematurely), and are never going to be, with or without Athon′s death. Maybe this is part of their appeal; they work, they make raw, no–frills metal that’s fun (which they dubbed ‘swamp metal’), and they do it because they love it and do so free of any bollocks . Workin′ like a workin′ man do, as another Southern band once said. Their music videos reflect this sense of fun, as do their lyrics;
Time is coming, heed the sound, rip your face off, thrash around […]
Storm is brewing, no control, embrace the madness, in your soul’ (Embrace The Madness).
Although not an intellectual musical endeavour, with their ain′t–broke–don′t–fix–it songwriting style, Black Tusk are yet a deeply artistic band, with a heavy emphasis upon pentagrams, pointy guitars, scores of filthy tattoos and that beard. I once described them to a friend as a modern Motörhead, and I stand by that; this is rockin′ metal you could play at a party. As Athon eloquently put it:
We′re not one of those negativity bands that you go see and you want to slit your fucking wrist to, you know?
So I guess what I′m saying here is that even though the only connection I′ve had to Athon is through a CD, photos and videos, which aren′t going anywhere, I feel a real sense of loss, and that a special time is over. Imagine what the people who actually knew him, and even those who went to see Black Tusk play, feel. Black Tusk aren′t necessarily over, but Athon′s third(ish) of the vocal duties and bass attack are irreplaceable, as will be his stage presence. As was the case with EyeHateGod, we’ll have to wait and see.
This is a sad end to by what all accounts seems to have been a life well lived. I was going to end with this line from Embrace The Madness : ‘Black to black, tusk to tusk, ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. But this seemed more appropriate;
Where am I at, where do I go
Don′t know where I′m goin, but I ain′t goin slow. – The Ride
 I’m not sure if they had material recorded for future release. It rings a bell, but I can’t find any sources saying as much.