SAVANNAH may pride itself on being the swamp metal capital of the South—after all, Black Tusk, Baroness, and Kylesa (who recently announced an indefinite hiatus) have emerged from the 912 area code—but fresh talent is rising out of the murky waters to the west.
Mobile, Alabama’s Black Titan hits town this weekend to share their own blend of Southern-inspired heaviness.
Members Thomas Allin Kilpatrick, Clayton Bates, Ian Taylor, and Jimmy Lee have been “running in the same circles” in Mobile for years.
Before the dawn of Black Titan, Taylor and Bates were playing in shoegaze/noise pop/psych rock band The Sunshine Factory. Kilpatrick was based in Austin, Texas, touring the world in Ancient VVisdom, a band that created strange, dark sounds through acoustic guitars, bowed upright bass, and synths.
Upon experiencing The Sunshine Factory’s Sonic Youth and Pixies influences and visually-driven, multisensory show, Kilpatrick quickly booked the band. Watching his friends’ musical growth from his spot in the audience, Kilpatrick knew he wanted to team up with the pair for a new project.
“I was living over in Austin, came home, and Sunshine Factory kind of fell apart,” he recounts. “They wanted to do something heavier. When Sunshine Factory fell through, Clay told me he wanted me to sing for them—well, he made me sing for them, ‘cause I was terrified! We got Jimmy in for an audition, and he smoked it, it was amazing.”
Growing up in the Mobile scene, there wasn’t much in the way of heavy music for inspiration. Things have changed, but Black Titan remains an odd fusion all its own.
“Now, in Mobile, you’re either super-heavy—like death metal, Pantera still exists and it’s ‘94—or you’re Nickelback,” says Kilpatrick. “We want to be heavy but palatable. We’re all big Sabbath fans—most of the guys are punk guys. I come from a prog and metal background, Jimmy does a lot of old blues; Ian, black metal, new wave. We try to create something that was a common bond, yet something that people would enjoy.”
That variety of influences rings loud and clear through Black Titan’s debut LP, The Bag Is In The River. Released on April 10, the Sabbath influence is clear in the grimy, wide gait of opener “Delirium Tremens.”
It’s an immense, sludgy, and stony album, tight on control and balance. “Weed Dungeon” comes in swinging, as heavy as it gets, only to distill into a restrained, fuzzy-heavy bass walk and soft, paced vocals from Kilpatrick. Just when the listener gets comfortable in the sway, the whole thing rips wide open, Kilpatrick’s vocals splitting into a primal rage, guitars enveloping in him and drums crashing in with tumultuous fury.
Recording The Bag Is In The River was “The most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced,” Kilpatrick says.
“We wrote the first EP on the spot,” Lee recalls. “We became a band, and had the record done within two months of performing.”
“We’d been playing this material for the last year,” says Kilpatrick. “The writing process [for The Bag Is In The River] happened kind of fast. We were sitting on the material for a while and recording was pretty intense.”
The band tracked parts individually on a 16-channel console straight out of the ‘70s; according to Kilpatrick, it was originally used by ABBA. Taylor and Lee handled all the production.
“They’d put me in a room with a red light and a baseball bat and tell me to just sing, pleading insanity, get me as mad as I could possibly be and set me loose,” Kilpatrick cackles.
Black Titan has been touring in support of The Bag Is In The River for about ten days. Charlotte’s own stoner-metal laureates, Green Fiend join the Alabama boys at their Jinx show.
After opening for Black Tusk and befriending the band, Black Titan has been eager to get to see what the Hostess City has to offer.
“We are a very audience-participation-based band,” Kilpatrick notes. “I like to step off, get in the crowd. Show up and be ready to go!”