The Lineup

Black Skies

Carrboro, N.C.

Carrboro’s Black Skies are a Southern metal band living and working in a regional musical community in which the very definition of that genre is expanding and changing. Sure, there’s enough sludge in their stuff to place the band alongside New Orleans godfathers Eyehategod or North Carolina’s own Buzzov*en, but there’s also an overarching element of experimentation that knits Black Skies to Savannah’s genre-bending Kylesa or the Appalachia space-core of U.S. Christmas. Despite the foreboding name, the band doesn’t even consider itself to be metal. Let there be no doubt: This band is heavy.

Black Skies can be heard at their ominous best on their recent self-released album, On the Wings of Time. Check the “The Sleeping Prophet,” the last song from that album. Sure, the 10-minute tune is long, but it’s telling, too, beginning with guitarist Kevin Clark’s mournful riff, which transitions quickly into an exotic and very Middle Eastern melody. Clark spent his formative years in Turkey. The drums crack through the guitar's spacey overdrive, and a rumbling bass holds everything together. In the pivotal final third of the song, a new, rather warm sound slides through the fuzz; yes, it is a flute.

But the community is what’s key with Black Skies: When the band goes on the road, they often take a lesser-known local with them. And bass player/vocalist/flautist Michelle Temple has become well-known for her booking agency, Lechuza. That willingness to help promote kindred spirits—along with their ability to defy the expectations of heavy music—is what sets Black Skies apart. —Karen A. Mann