New York's long running Grey Skies Fallen return with their self-released, almost crowd-funded new album, The Many Sides of Truth - a title that could easily refer to their varied and eclectic style. It's to the band's credit that their music has so many different facets that it defies easy categorization. Trying to sum the album up with a facile genre tag like "blackened doom" or "gothic metal" would be reductive and misleading. 'The Peaceville Three' are a noticeable influence - but so are Pink Floyd. In general, GSF sound more European than American; there's a definite kinship with bands like In The Woods... and The 3rd And the Mortal in the way that they go from oppressive to vulnerable to operatic within the same track.
The album revolves around four long songs separated by instrumentals. Opener "Ritual of the Exiter" kicks the album off in a moody and shuffling fashion before careening suddenly into a blasting rager. "The Flame" goes in the opposite direction, beating the listener up with epic black metal that transforms into a dirge built around Craig Rossi's forlorn piano melody. The keyboards are front and centre on "Of the Ancients", which is sure to raise eyebrows as it strides boldly and purposefully into melodramatic rock opera territory. "End of My Rope" finishes the album in headbanging style and leaves the listener on a sanguine note. At the heart of the band's sound is the interplay between the keyboards and the guitars and throughout it all, vocalist Rick Habeeb is in fine form, switching from a full bodied tenor to tortured screams as the music demands.
Grey Skies Fallen are in an unenviable position; on one hand, their music should appeal to anyone with a broad view of metal's history and who wants to see it branch out of its self-imposed restrictions. By releasing the album on their own, they can bypass any record label looking to shoehorn them into a more marketable genre. Unfortunately, the current musical climate seems to reward talented plagiarists over bold visionaries. Here's hoping the tide is turning the other way and The Many Sides of Truth finds its audience.
In addition to the CD and digital versions, the album will also be released on vinyl ("Our first foray into vinyl!" says the band), including coloured/splattered vinyl and a limited edition "Glow-in-the-Dark" version. The vinyl comes packaged with a green variant cover by Travis Smith, and is also available for pre-order through Bandcamp.
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