Black Skies

This three-piece outfit from North Carolina plays a groovy, rollicking brand of stoner/sludge which comes off like the combination of (old) Mastodon, Melvins and Black Sabbath. Although the EP is only 23 minutes long, it doesn’t waste any time and gets right to the good stuff: plenty of massive, doomy riffs and bashing, groovy rhythm.

After an ominous, rumbling intro, “Smoke and Mirrors” erupts like a gigantic volcanic bong, belching out huge smoky riffs that blot out the sun. There’s your Black Skies right there. While “Smoke” is probably the fastest track on the album, everything here is solid and goes down like shot after shot of fire in your belly. Tracks like the Southern-inflected “Nomad” (a song that just screams out for a distorted slide guitar) or the heaving monster that is “Chain of Command” may roil along at a slower pace, but not without sacrificing any groove or bellowing menace.

Besides the rough, authentic production, a large part of Black Skies‘ aggressive, underground sound comes from the gruff, distorted vocals. They come off like Troy Sanders (Mastodon) roaring through a mouthful of sawdust. However, while they pack more punch than the vocals of bands like The Gates of Slumber or The Sword, the sung portions do lack some bite at times; I would’ve preferred something a little more “natural death” rather than processed and fuzzed out. When they crank to a scream, though: perfect.

While there’s nothing progressive or forward-thinking about Black Skies‘ sound, that really doesn’t matter. Sometimes simple and pure is better. This is quintessential stoner/sludge metal, and delivered with such a groovy ferocity that it’s an easy album to throw on over and over. Hope these guys tour the West Coast at some point – this is an album that I’m sure is even better in a live setting.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
October 25th, 2008


  1. Commented by: Staylow

    Nice review. This sounds like something I might dig. I’m very selective when it comes to stuff like this though. I’ll have to give it a go.

  2. Commented by: swampthang

    stoner metals like the new metalcore, lots of the bands sound the same and there are only a handfull of ones that set them apart.

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