UK band SKIES TURN BLACK was formed back in 2011, and rose to some prominence as winners of the Greene King Battle of the Bands context in 2015. Following this they released an initial single in 2016. “No Place Like Home” is their debut album, and was self-released in the fall of 2018.
Skies Turn Black describe themselves as a metal/hard rock band, which I guess is fairly accurate. That is, they are first and foremost a metal band, but they will occasionally segue over to a more typical hard rock expression. As one might suspect, this is also a rather varied band in terms of musical style. They have plenty of cuts that are more in line with alternative hard rock and metal, some arguably even touching some ground with metalcore, but they aren’t strangers to more conventional heavy metal, nor to power metal and the occasional flirt in the direction of thrash metal. Some subtle traces of what was once described as extreme metal do find their way into a few cuts as well, then mainly in the vocals department.
This is a band that has a lot going for it, and what they are most actively engaged in on this album is to deliver hard, energetic tunes with pace, momentum and energy are the key and dominant aspects of the compositions. These songs aren’t all that memorable as such, at least in my opinion, but they are never boring either. Good pace, tension and momentum are traits that will easily draw in interest too, and I rather guess the band will draw the attention of quite a few fans on this alone.
Personally I enjoy the exploits of this band a bit more when the pace is slowed a bit, the guitars get a more prominent role with a stronger emphasis on darker tones, and where piano and keyboards are used as an elegant contrast to the darker surroundings, alongside the lead vocals. The single ‘Let You Down’ a clear favorite of mine more or less inside that specific context
There aren’t really any cuts there that miss out all that much though. One exception here for me is the ballad ‘Never Again’, and then mainly because I do not feel the energetic and dramatic vocal style used here fits the scope of a song of this type. That is perhaps more a question of a personal taste of course, but it merits stating.
Mix and production is a bit so-so in places, a few yards away from the Steven Wilson’s of this world. On a couple of tracks there is a minor issue with the overall balance, as some instruments and sounds appear to intercept and stop one another rather than managing to supplement each another. Not a big issue, but on the tracks where it is present this is at least potentially detrimental for some listeners.
While not an album that leaves me in awe, this is a good, functional example of a modern metal band that actively seeks to explore many and varied sounds and subgenres of their chosen genre. At times even with some progressive spirit added to the proceedings, like on concluding cut ‘Revolution’. A good band for now, and one with the potential the develop into something with a stronger overall appeal over time. I’d suggest that this band is one that merits a check by those whose taste in metal is wide and extensive, and especially those that find themselves intrigued by artists that does create music all across the metal spectrum.
My rating: 68/100