Black Skies - On The Wings Of Time
Sludge Metal
8 songs (52:19)
Release year: 2011
Black Skies
Reviewed by Khelek

Ahh sludge, the grimy gem of the metal world. I heard several excellent albums from this genre throughout 2011, and Black Skies completes my sludging for the year. Hailing from the southern U.S., these guys combine everything that make sludge interesting to me. Simple yet memorable guitar riffs, rough and unique vocal styles, and plenty of unpredictable, atmospheric heaviness. These guys have clearly been influenced by many old-school doom, sludge, and stoner acts. If you're a fan of The Melvins, Weedeater, or Sleep, these guys will have you remembering why this genre is interesting.

First thing I notice is that the production is quite rough. However, that's not necessarily the worst thing for music in this genre, and as I progressed through the album I noticed more and more that it worked to the advantage of this sound. The guitars don't quite have the crunch that they should, but fortunately the riffs themselves are quite memorable. They are big and heavy, but not too slow or repetitive. The first song, Rebirth, does get slightly monotonous towards the end, but overall it's a good start to the album. Darkness And Disguise uses some wah-induced guitar melodies to spice things up. The main riffs are still big and heavy, but catchy, too. I like the combination of the male and female vocals here, it creates a nice contrast, similar to the guitars in the beginning of the song. The riffs are faster than most of what can be heard in the sludge genre, having more of a doom or stoner quality in that sense. The Other Side Of The Mountain has good rhythm. It starts of relatively calmly with acoustic guitar and bass and simple drums, somewhat forbodeing and cold. The energy of this song takes a little while to get going, but when it does it is worth the wait. It's simply great when the heavy riffs come in, the vocals get rougher, but the sludgy tempo remains unchanged. This song brings in some psychedelic elements with the guitars, using some weird tones. This is one of the longest tracks on the album, but it manages to stay interesting the entire time. Valley Of The Kings has a good, stomping rhythm running through it. The guitars have this sort of Egyptian vibe going on that compliments the heaviness nicely. The song does get quite repetitive, but you have to excpect that from a 9 and a half minute long sludge track. I personally would have made it a bit shorter, but it's still a solid, enjoyable song. Earth Choker uses some faster, but also dissonant, dark-sounding guitars. Similar to Valley Of The Kings in some ways, but angrier. I really like the drumming throughout this album as well, the style reminds me of Kekko from Weedeater. Big, aggressive drums that also know when to use finese.

Black Skies have crafted a fine sludge album here. It is in turns calm, heavy, angry, and melancholic. Even though the production is rough in some areas, they manage to not only sound good, they use it at times to their advantage when creating atmosphere. Every song on this album has something to like in it. I will certainly be checking out their past work and enjoying this album for weeks to come.

You can buy the album on the band's Bandcamp page for $5.

Killing Songs :
Darkness & Disguise, The Other Side Of The Mountain, Valley Of The Kings
Khelek quoted 85 / 100
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