Was there ever any doubt that Ebony Tusks’ debut LP could match the excellent and experimental energy of their live show? Heal_Thyself showcases the trio as masters of their craft. The mesmerizing vocal delivery with belts of howls and shouts throughout. The crunching, cold beats roaring at full volume (“Chuck Ds”). And of course the piercing lyrics, all the more powerful when repeated by an audience of buzzing people.
The record operates as stunning performance but also has the ability to show “how the sausage is made,” which is either Ebony Tusks being their most transparent or an incredible flex on every single one of us. There’s the explanation of “Chant” breaking down the very next track. The call and response from a show at the end of “Schuyler.” And Marty Hillard’s hypnotizing lyricism on “Televangeli$t$” which has the lofi quality of a humming room under a spell until he breaks it “what’s the next song?” and an eruption of cheers.
That track, by the way, would be “You Runner,” a contender for song of the year, with its haunting growl underneath. Heal_Thyself can simultaneously be maximalist and minimalist (the horror film echo on “Hell Above or Here Below,” the layered vocals on “Bloodletting”), but even in its quieter moments the energy is always high. Ebony Tusks have delivered a surging colossus of a debut. As if anyone would’ve thought otherwise.