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CD REVIEW: Black Skies' On the Wings of Time

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Though Black Skies formed in 2005, On the Wings of Time is the Carrboro trio's first proper LP. This proto-metal unit stays busy gigging, networking and setting up shows for other heavies. Yet when it came time for a record, the Skies went to Kyle Spence of stoner-noise heavyweights Harvey Milk to produce it. After all, he did an amazing job with Charlotte's Grids' final album, Kansas. With Grids, Spence's touch was more in line with that defunct act's tumultuous noise-based hardcore. With Black Skies, his textures are subtle and more classic-rock oriented (such as embedded organ and synth tones that make this record sound positively enormous). None of this detracts from the band's riff-driven power trio core. Black Skies plays like an amped-up version of Sleep: think stoner metal on a caffeine bender. It's visceral hard rock defined by low-end, hypnotic riffing. "Technology stole my soul from me," bassist Michelle Temple and guitarist Kevin Clark holler back and forth at the end of "Technologicon." Her clean shout contrasts nicely with his hardened roar. The two sing a purposefully discomforting close harmony in the downtuned acoustic intro of "The Other Side of the Mountain," crafting a druidic blues feel also visited in "Weightless." Yes, there's a back-to-nature vibe here, but also some Zep-level mystical leanings. In "Valley of the Kings," Clark sings "behold the sins of Amun," the ambiguous lyrics possibly referencing heretical pharaoh Akhenaten's megalomaniac sun-worship. Yet as the sinuous, addictive riff chugs toward the nine-minute mark, we encounter Black Skies in its full, hypnotic glory — as a band that can both take you to the top of the mountain and knock you back down the other side.

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