Hendersonville – Local progressive rock band Skies of Avalon will headline its CD release show on Friday, Dec. 2 in Isis Music Hall in West Asheville.
The Henderson County-based band is making waves with its single “Tides.” The song was the most requested song on local online Buzz Radio for the entire month of October, band leader Christian Justus noted.
Skies of Avalon consists of bassist-vocalist Justus, keyboardist-vocalist Steven Posey, lead guitarist Johnny Thorn and drummer Jacob Whiteside. Justus is a 1989 East Henderson High School graduate. Whiteside, 26, is an A.C. Reynolds alumnus.
They will play two free Friday night shows in Hendersonville with the usual blend of rock cover songs and some originals. They play on Dec. 16 from 7-10 p.m. in Dry Falls Brewing Co. at 425 Kanuga Rd., and on Dec. 30 from 8 p.m. until midnight in The Dugout Sports Bar & Taphouse at 430 N. Main St.
CD Release Show
First up is the three-band CD release show in Asheville on Dec. 2. Musicians include Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Artimus Pyle. Pyle drummed for the famed Lynyrd Skynyrd Band. He drums for his guitarist-vocalist son Chris Pyle’s band PyleTribe, which plays “Southern boogie.” Thorn calls it “significant” to have such rock royalty on the bill. Contagious opens at 8:30 p.m.
Skies of Avalon is slated to go on at 10:20 p.m., to play one set of a dozen songs lasting nearly 70 minutes. “Advanced tickets are greatly encouraged” in case of a sellout, Justus said. This will be among the last shows in Isis, which is to close by month’s end. The venue is at 743 Haywood Rd.
Per Tempus is the title of the band’s inaugural seven-song CD. The phrase is Latin for “Over Time.” Many songs on the CD have themes relating to time. The band will sign CDs bought in a meet and greet session right after its show Dec. 2.
Skies of Avalon’s CD release performance will be “unlike any other show we have played or will play after,” Justus assured. The plan is to play about half of Per Tempus in order of its songs, then perform other original songs, mix in a rock cover hit or two, and finish with the rest of the CD. Justus said “we’ll also feature two originals that we haven’t recorded yet.” He has penned more than 20 songs in recent months.
The band will open its set with “Tides,” which is the song on its video. “Tides” is not on Per Tempus, but “Tides II” is its first song.
Per Tempus Prog Blends
Skies of Avalon originals are intricate, heavy metal-tinged progressive rock that vary in tempo and mood. Skies of Avalon sounds very much like prog-metal pioneers Queensrÿche’s and Dream Theater. Justus calls his band’s sound “semi-progressive rock with an edge, featuring elements of metal. Posey terms it “dreamy, melodic rock with string and organ sounds and catchy lyrics.”
Thorn derives a very “positive mood and emotion” from Per Tempus, and the single “Tides” as a “story of change and making a good thing out of it — instead of getting rolled over by it.”
Several original songs start with metal low-toned rumblings, then get smoother. Most notably, “Tides” reaches a sizzling Yes-like keyboard frenzy that Posey wrote and crisply plays.
Whiteside relishes the challenge of drumming to these complex originals. He keeps up quite well with “sudden tempo and time signature changes” for seamless beat transitions, Posey said.
The six originals on the CD are “Skies of Avalon,” “Real This Time,” “Tides II: Platinum Skies,” patriotic “The Day,” “Ten Degree Difference,” and sentimental “There May be a Time.” A mystery cover song is the longest-running song at 8:59, and has Michael Myers on sax.
“Skies of Avalon” was first a song title, then became the band’s name. Its lyrical story is inspired by the Legend of King Arthur Pendragon, fantasy adventure author Justus said. Avalon symbolizes paradise, as the supposedly burial site of Arthur of Camelot lore. Justus wrote, “A kingdom once revered, Camelot is long gone. Pendragon fell, but Avalon lives on.” Thorn noted that “it’s a theme album, and (Ithematic) link to our next album.”
“Tides II: Platinum Skies” has Posey singing lead. The sequel to “Tides” is how “you can’t keep letting people manipulate you,” Justus explained. “You have to fight back. Look up to the platinum skies, for a new and better way of living.”
Going further, the medium-tempo rocker “Ten Degree Difference” is a “revenge anthem” for those wronged, Justus said. “You can ‘win’ over your enemy by a narrow margin. That’s the ten degree difference.”
Video of ‘Tides’
“Tides” lasts over seven minutes. The song was released as a single in October of 2021.
“Tides,” the band’s first single, came out last October. The middle of its three segments has a very “different mood,” varying as progressive rock does, Justus said. “Johnny and Steven laid down ‘killer’ guitar and keyboard.” In the last section, Justus smooths the melody and vocals to “bring it back to a positive message.” The theme is reflected by the line “All of your life, you’ve had to put up a fight” emotionally, Justus said. “Every person can relate.”
Justus sings lead vocals on such songs. His voice is very smooth and flowing in its chorus.
The video of “Tides” came out on Nov. 21. Guitarist Thorn said he took 15 hours to assemble it, using the DaVinci software and open source imagery.
As Justus said, “people want to see a visual with a song. Johnny developed the storyline visually.” A familiar King Arthur image is of the magical Excalibur sword in a stone.
Justus said, “Johnny in the opening presented a (WWI) bi-plane flying towards a floating island. It’s finding a flying continent in the sky. It’s perfect!” The floating island correlates with legendary Avalon. Thorn aimed to explain “how the islands got out there — from destruction of a planet. Islands come together. Some never reached the ground. They were somehow floating.”
A view of English countryside shows the Glastonbury Tor hill in southwest England. Justus explained “that is the mound left from the island rumored to be King Arthur’s final resting place.” Over time, water subsided and turned the island into a hill. The music video mirrors some of the band’s CD art work, which includes the Garden of Eden’s Tree of Life.
The four band members are in the video. The other three sent Thorn film of themselves playing “Tides.” Whiteside makes clownish expressions. That contrasts with serious and still Posey. Posey’s keyboard solo is featured near the end. The two guitarists are shown outdoors as the song mellows out midway through. A stream is behind Thorn. Thorn chose to show closeup of his guitar playing, and not his face until near the song’s upbeat conclusion.
Tickets for the Dec. 2 CD release show are $15 at the door, or $14.55 online at isisasheville.com/calendar. To order Per Tempus online for $15, go to: https://gofund.me/722dbd70. Check out the video of “Tides” at: https://youtu.be/tWEni5qIk2k. Skies of Avalon is on Bandcamp and other online music distribution outlets.