Grey Skies Fallen – Cold Dead Lands (Xanthros Music)Tuesday, 11th February 2020
Another act who has been sitting somewhat quietly over the last few years, NYC’s Grey Skies Fallen makes their return, six years following The Many Sides of Truth. Just like with previous releases, there’s a lot going on in their music, even if it does fall under the weighty flag of doom. Cold Dead Lands checks the boxes off with downtrodden glee, but it still falls just shy of true greatness.
Certainly, the band still retains a feeling that could cause one to mistake them for a Peaceville-era act (My Dying Bride et al) in their gloomy vibes, but there’s also a more modern injection of heaviness to keep it planted in more distinctive territory. For the most part, this is pretty lumbering stuff. Mammoth-sized riffs shake the speakers in a sense that you can feel that emotional heaviness with each note. Rick Habeeb’s use of both clean and growled vocals always seem to hit the mark as well, never going into a clichéd use of either and there’s a lot of power and grit at any given moment. Solid contrasts abound with the more deathly side of the formula getting some time in alongside the doomy and melancholic (see “Picking up the Pieces”), but that also brings us to the one piece holding the band back from their full potential. That Achilles’ heel is that of song length. Granted, epic-sounding doom needs some room to breathe, but there are a number of moments that feel like they could be trimmed down a bit. Again in discussing “Picking up the Pieces,” there are some real emotional highs to be had, but interspersed are also some moments where the band treads some water and it loses some important momentum.
While there are a few tracks that could use a bit of a trim, Cold Dead Lands still presents itself as a pretty enjoyable piece of doom. There’s a genuine emotional heft to their material that rises to the surface, and feels perfect for the bleak winter season.