Grey Skies Fallen - Two Way Mirror
Xanthros Music
Atmospheric Dark Rock/Metal
8 songs (39:50)
Release year: 2006
Grey Skies Fallen
Reviewed by Ken
Album of the month

Grey Skies Fallen began in 1996 as Eve Of Mourning. The name was later changed, obviously, due to another band having the same name. They released two demos before releasing their first full-length album, The Fate Of Angels, in 1999. This was my introduction to the band. The Fate Of Angels was an overall doom death album that wasn’t shy about wandering off into melodic death metal territory (“The Purest Form”) or into something more experimental and mellow (“Spiral Dreams,” “Athena”). The atmospherics of that album and the delicate balance between doom death and melodic, dark metal are very reminiscent of The Gathering’s early albums—those without the female vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen—Always… and Almost A Dance.

Three years later, with a few new band members, the band released Tomorrow’s In Doubt—an album I never even knew existed until about a month ago (revoke my metal license now!). This album took the secondary, prog-like atmospherics of The Fate Of Angels and kicked it up a notch, bringing it to the forefront. But at the same time, the doom was replaced by a more traditional death metal sound. Another striking contrast that the band managed to make work, like on their debut only with different elements.

In the years that followed the band found themselves writing material that was a bit of a departure from their previous output; the heavy, death metal doom-and-gloom had become virtually non-existent and the dark progressive, atmospheric metal took over. This caused tension in the band and that lead to some band member departures, new members coming and going, emotional breakdowns from years of pent up frustration and other internal shake-ups that eventually buckled the foundation of the band and they broke up. A short time later, though, after a much needed break, the Tomorrow’s In Doubt—an almost prophetic album title—line-up reunited and decided to go back to the heavier sound of their first two albums, but agreed that the songs written over the past two years deserved to be released and heard. Those songs collectively became Two Way Mirror.

I mentioned early The Gathering as a comparison point to The Fate Of Angels, well, Two Way Mirror can musically be compared to latter day The Gathering. The album is abundant with a dark, rock-like atmosphere and Floydian soundscapes, beautiful melodies and layers of rich keyboard work. “Blue” begins the show; it’s a slow, soft strummer for the most part with a nice chorus; it picks up a bit around the midway point and steadily builds itself up for a grand exit that features the heaviest vocals to be found on the CD. The piano dominates the next song, “Drift,” which is one of the highlights of the album. It’s a stunningly beautiful and somber song—albeit the shortest on the album—with some great lyrics. I think this song would have been a better opener for the album. “The Opposite Of Up” takes the style of the previous two tracks and combines them, dark, slow and brooding, heavy with emotion. The album follows a similar path throughout, dreary, emotional and dreadfully soulful. “Carry On”—one the four songs initially written in 2004—closes the CD and is the heaviest of the bunch, relatively speaking. It features a lot of keyboard and some heavier vocals, but slightly mellower than those heard on “Blue.” A great way to end an otherwise excellent album. A special nod goes to the oddball of the album, “This Sinking Feeling,” a quasi-(do not be alarmed!)-country-tinged track that somehow manages to work. It’s really not country, but the verse guitar lends itself a sort of country-esque tone, even a dreamy, Caribbean quality. The song has a great chorus and it picks up toward the end with some nice dual lead work, it’s probably the most up-tempo song on the album, but it’s still a great tune.

The album also features an enhanced section with a 25-minute Making Of video that shows the band in good times and in very bad times, a simple discussion on the tempo of a particular song becomes a brutal war of words between band members, and apparently this was the final straw that temporarily put an end to the band, forever captured on film. It’s a very insightful look at how five guys trying to create music that is close to their individual hearts can find themselves at serious odds. This is not Some Kind Of Monster, there are no documentary crews there intending on filming a disaster or overpaid therapists or jackass drummers in slippers and a robe, this is raw and real, not something many bands would let fans see. It’s very interesting to watch, though.

The musicianship and production on the album is superb throughout, the layers of guitars, vocals and keyboards mesh well; they’re clear and strong in the mix. My one complaint about this album, though, is the heavier guitar tone; it seems to lack that sonic punch and sort of comes off a little thin around the midsection. It’s still far from bad, but the album, I think, would have been served better with a heavier tone. Still, in the end, great music always shines through, even if it’s dark.

If you’re a fan of Grey Skies Fallen’s previous work, this album may stop you short with its seemingly drastic departure from their earlier output, but if you peel away a few layers from those albums you’ll find yourself face to face with what is found on Two Way Mirror. If you’re uninterested in this new side of the band and long for the heavy, blistering doom death of yesteryear then I’ll end this with some hopeful words about the next album—currently being written/recorded—from vocalist/guitarist Rick Habeed, “The new material is heavy as fuck!”. So fear not.

MP3: The Great Fall and Athena (taken from The Fate Of Angels), and The Essence Of Motion and Fragments (taken from Tomorrow’s In Doubt)

The song “This Sinking Feeling” from Two Way Mirror can be heard streaming on the band’s MySpace page.

Note: In time these links will likely becoming outdated.

Killing Songs :
Drift, Two Way Mirror, Forget The Past and The Few
Ken quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Grey Skies Fallen that we have reviewed:
Grey Skies Fallen - Along Came Life reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
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