Review: Grey Skies Fallen “Cold Dead Lands” [Paragon Records / Grimm Distribution / More Hate]

Review: Grey Skies Fallen “Cold Dead Lands” [Paragon Records / Grimm Distribution / More Hate]

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This year Paragon Records / Grimm Distribution / More Hate has re-released from Old Souls Collective last year’s LP Cold Dead Lands of American melodic doom/death metal band Grey Skies Fallen, providing us with almost an hour of sculpted and streamlined doom metal.

Grey Skies Fallen is based in New York, and that’s not the place where the legends of doom/death metal used to pop up on every corner. Of course United States has unwritten patent for classical Novembers Doom or more melodic Daylight Dies, but mostly this melancholic music is blooming in the shady places of Northern or Western Europe. But that doesn’t mean that North America hasn’t doom/death metal scene, it exists, and Grey Skies Fallen is one of their classical performers. And even though they exist for almost 25 years, this is their only fifth studio album.

Cold Dead Lands leans rather to more traditional doom side with melancholic flashes of gothic/doom and some heavier elements from doom/death, but with slight progressive touch. It’s not like this music is overshadowed by elaborated technicalities, but this progressive touch is constantly felt in the background. Everything here reminds of the glory days of doom/death of 1990s, of course the influence of My Dying Bride is essential, but Grey Skies Fallen sounds too optimistically tender, their dark energy is transformed into the pure doom metal steadiness, while My Dying Bride transforms it into gothic realm of permanent presence of Death itself. Cold Dead Lands lacks the sense of tragedy, even the heaviest and darkest parts come through the perspective of potential positive outcome.

The rhythm is steady, from slow to medium slow with a few exceptions to fill in these long minutes of typical doom metal song (up to 12 minutes, five minutes is rather short by the standards of doom metal). There are some mood changes during the compositions, but not drastic or too aggressive; so this melancholic music smoothly flows and fills our hearts with a sense of longing. They love traditionalisms from the beginning of doom metal era, it’s pretty obvious, that their fondness for heavy metal have built their appetites to create this type of music. Self-titled Cold Dead Lands balances on the brink of balladish hair metal of 1980s, but “Procession to the Tombs” and “Visions from the last Sunset” are more about progressive doom days. This heavy/doom foundation is often disrupted by heavier passages of doom/death, with very low guitars, extreme singing and emotional aggression (“Procession to the Tombs” or “Picking up the Pieces”). And strangely enough, the melancholic atmosphere of this album is rather on an ad hoc basis, nothing is soaked in it in order to romanticize darkness and sadness like Scandinavian melodic doom/death metal bands used to sin. So, no wonder, that spiritually this album is much closer to traditional doom metal.

Rare albums and long gaps between the releases worked like some sort of an enemy for Grey Skies Fallen, so they never have the real opportunity to reach the top league of doom/death monsters. The bleak and dreary cover art only partially reflects the mood of the album, though some kind of silver lining hints on their common optimistic notes, making this doom metal record not too painfully gloomy. There aren’t too many original ideas or unordinary moves, but the songs are well-coordinated and structurally integral, and the emotional intensity adds extra points to pass for not just another boring doom/death metal release.

Release date: April 8th, 2021

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