Grey Skies Fallen Talk How Opeth, My Dying Bride, Death & Blood Incantation Influenced New Songs
Long-running Staten Island death-doom band Grey Skies Fallen are gearing up to release their 5th full length album this month. Cold Dead Lands doesn't land until January 23rd, but get a taste now with the 11+ minute opening track "Visions from the Last Sunset" which started streaming today:
You can also hear the album's first single "Procession to the Tombs" at the end of this post.
Grey Skies Fallen have undergone many lineup changes since they formed in 1996 (and were briefly called Eve of Mourning), but two of the three members -- who are all also in grindcore band Buckshot Facelift -- have been together since 1999. Vocalist/guitarist Rick Habeeb has been there since day one, but was joined soon after by drummer Sal Gregory. Bassist Tom Anderer joined in 2013.
Guests on the new album include Buckshot Facelift vocalist Will Smith (also of Artificial Brain & Afterbirth) and Artificial Brain/Revocation guitarist Dan Gargiulo. The album was mastered by the legendary Dan Swanö, a long-running dream finally come true for the NY band as Rick explains in one of the many stories he recounts for us below. Rick is a huge metal fan, regularly in attendance at NYC metal shows since the '90s and full of good stories, so we were excited for him to tell us some. Enjoy...
10 Albums That Influenced Grey Skies Fallen's new "Cold Dead Lands"
by Grey Skies Fallen's Rick Habeeb
1. Def Leppard - High N' Dry
Throughout the recording sessions for "Cold Dead Lands," this album would be played during breaks, and we would discuss how we need to "channel Def Leppard" on this new GSF album. While I don't think we sound anything like this band, we all enjoy various aspects of their sound. Steve Clark was so great. Not too flashy, but played with a ton of feel. I love that dude's playing. The vocal harmonies of course also rule. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the production of Mutt Lange. I've always enjoyed his sound.
2. My Dying Bride - The Angel and the Dark River
When GSF formed in early 1996, this was the album that was being played on a loop. While I of course loved the debut and the mighty "Turn Loose the Swans," this album was the one that for me epitomized what doom metal is. A perfect album to me, even without any death vocals. MDB dropping death vocals for this album was a huge deal at the time. A big risk for them to take that paid off. I'm extremely thrilled to have seen them live on the "Like Gods of the Sun' tour when they headlined Coney Island High in New York in May of 97. I got my head split open during the band before them, Bile's set, and I was definitely concussed. I went down to the ground face-down twice I'm told. But when I heard Martin Powell tuning his violin before they went on, I slapped myself across the face a few times and snapped out of it. Wasn't going to miss that. They haven't been back to New York since. As an aside, in 2015 we recorded a cover version of "From Darkest Skies" for an MDB tribute album. We were very happy with how that song came out, as it was our first time doing a cover song and all. We wanted to pay tribute to this band who was so highly-influential to us in our formative years. I was told that their guitarist Andrew was quite fond of it, however, Martin Powell posted that he was not a fan, so that was a bummer!
3. Blood Incantation - Starspawn
This band has crept into my consciousness recently and has taken over. Personally, I just got into them when the new album "Hidden History of the Human Race" was released, but now I am obsessed with them. Our bassist Tom filled-in on bass for Artificial Brain when those guys toured with Blood Incantation and Demilich in 2018, right before we started recording the new album. That was an amazing show at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. "Starspawn" is an incredible album.
4. Camel - Breathless
This was the second and final Camel album featuring Richard Sinclair on bass and vocals. Richard Sinclair is the man. This album received constant play during the "Cold Dead Lands" sessions. I got Tom into Camel a few years ago and he immediately gravitated towards Sinclair's bass playing, as it is amazing. He's one of my favorite singers as well. Anyway, this album rips. You can hear the Caravan sound brought in by Richard Sinclair on songs like "Down on the Farm," so that's like a marriage of two of the best bands ever, to me. We're going to cover a Camel song one day and it may come from this album. It may also come from the other album Richard Sinclair appeared on, "Rain Dances." Time shall tell.
5. Death - Human
We all worship this album. Our drummer Sal said this was one of the first tapes he got as a young child. This guy loves Sean Reinert. As Death fans, I think of course we are influenced by them. Some of the guitar harmonies we use have that Death-kinda sound to them perhaps. Chuck was a great, versatile singer. I love how he sounds different on almost every Death album.
6. Bloodlet - Entheogen
This is a Sal and Tom jam. You can hear some of this drumming in Sal's style. When he joined the band as a youngster back in 1998, all I would hear about was "Bloodlet this" and "Bloodlet that." Turns out Sal knew what he was talking about. Both Sal and Tom are from Long Island, and I've noticed over the years there are a lot of Bloodlet fans out on the island.
7. Manilla Road - Mystification
Before there was GSF, we were called Eve of Mourning. Before that band existed, original GSF guitarist Joe D'angelo and I formed our first band and we called it Crystal Logic, after the classic Manilla Road record. This was 1993 and I was using a service called Prodigy for "online access," if anyone remembers that! Anyway, it was on Prodigy message boards that I got introduced to a ton of bands that by 1992-93 weren't too easy to come by. These guys had a unique sound. Fast forward to a couple of years ago, and I'm showing Tom some Manilla Road. I saw that he immediately dug it. "Mystification" just kills. My biggest regret I can remember musically came in 2017. Our awesome friend and local NYC metal booker Ed Farshtey booked us to open for fucking MANILLA ROAD at Saint Vitus Bar. This was a dream gig, but unfortunately we had to drop for reasons beyond our control. I was extremely excited to open for them, but it didn't happen. Unfortunately, Mark Shelton passed away a few months after that. Joe and I did catch them live at Vitus in 2014 I believe it was, and it was an incredible experience. Seeing a legendary band at that venue is amazing. It's not every day that you can see legends in such an intimate setting. Vitus is the best metal bar. To me, it has picked up the torch once carried by L'amour.
8. Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse
My favorite Opeth album, and one that I listen to a lot to this day. This album came out in the summer of 1998 as we were recording our first album. It changed the ballgame for me. The second GSF album "Tomorrow's in Doubt" definitely has more of an Opeth influence, whereas the first album had that MDB influence. I was late to the game with Opeth. I knew of Mike from his guest spot on Edge of Sanity's "Crimson", and their cover of Maiden's "Remember Tomorrow," which came out on one of those Dwell Records comps earlier that year I believe. Embarrassingly, this was the first album I'd heard. I of course immediately went out and got the first two after that, but this is the first album with the classic lineup, even though I don't think Mendez played bass on it. I'm not sure. Martin Lopez is one of my favorite drummers ever, and is the one of the nicest guys around. Anyway, I always go back to "My Arms" and I'm always reminded why this is one of my top 10 albums of all time. Highly influential for me and the band. Earlier with Manilla Road I touched on a low-light, but one of the highlights of doing GSF all these years was sharing the stage with Opeth on two occasions, back at Milwaukee Metalfest in 2000 and the New Jersey March Metal Meltdown in 2001. They invited us onto their bus and we hung out with them before their set, and it's a great memory I have. Somehow I weasled my way into one of their album credits thanks to Travis Smith. I provided him some photos I took when I was in London, and those pics made it into the layout for "The Roundhouse Tapes." I got a photography credit! Amazing! Bragging rights among my friends!
9. Artificial Brain - Infrared Horizon
These are our boys. Tom, Sal and I are in a grindcore band called Buckshot Facelift. Will, the vocalist of Buckshot is also the vocalist of Artificial Brain and an incredible death metal band called Afterbirth. These are Long Island bands, and they are not to be trifled with. Top-notch talent abound. GSF, Buckshot and Artificial Brain did a little mini-tour in late-2015 which was a ton of fun. Will and guitarist Dan Gargiulo (from Revocation as well) both appear as guest musicians on "Cold Dead Lands." As stated before, Tom filled-in for these monsters on tour back in 2018, so at this point we're kind of intertwined! Also, their awesome guitarist Jon will be playing live guitar for GSF on our upcoming gigs in support of the new album. Will does the backup guttural vocals on the song "Picking Up the Pieces," and Dan closes out the album with a ridiculously-emotional guitar solo. So, getting to this album...it's the best death metal album of 2017. It is riff after crushing riff. I am tumescent at the thought of watching them with Blood Incantation on Valentines Day at Vitus.
10. Dan Swano - Moontower
Last, but certainly not least. I'd been in touch with Dan for about 20 years here and there through email. Back when we did our first album, I can recall being in my dorm room at school, emailing Swano and telling him how I hope we could work together one day soon. Well, that day came in 2019 when he mixed and mastered our new album. I'd been a fan of all things Swano since around 1994. Ask anyone, they'll tell you I'll go on and on and on about Swano. "Moontower" is technically his first and only solo album, I believe. Such a great prog metal classic. One day GSF will cover a Swano song, and while I told him it was going to be Nightingale's "Thoughts from a Stolen Soul," we may have to switch that to "Uncreation."
To hear more from and about Rick and the new album, check out Rick's episode of the Heavy Hole podcast. Grey Skies Fallen also have three upcoming shows. As previously mentioned, they play a home-borough show with Tombs and Evoken in March. They open one of the two Swallow The Sun shows at the Kingsland in Brooklyn in April, and they play New England Stoner & Doom Fest in CT in May.
Grey Skies Fallen 2020 Tour Dates
March 20th, 2020 - Staten Island, NY
April 27th, 2020 - Brooklyn, NY
May 17th, 2020 - Jewett City, CT
Cold Dead Lands Track Listing
1 Visions from the Last Sunset
2 Cold Dead Lands
3 Procession to the Tombs
4 Picking Up the Pieces
5 Ways of the World
6 After the Summer Comes the Fall