While Heaven Wept - 2009 Vast Oceans Lachrymose

ARTIST: While Heaven Wept
ALBUM: Vast Oceans Lachrymose
LABEL: Cruz Del Sur
YEAR: 2009


LINEUP: Tom Phillips - guitars, keyboards, harmony vocals * Rain Irving - lead and harmony vocals * Jim Hunter - bass * Scott Loose - guitars * Michelle Schrotz - keyboards, harmony vocals * Trevor Schrotz - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Furthest Shore * 02 To Wander The Void * 03 Living Sepulchre * 04 Vessel * 05 Vast Oceans Lachrymose * 06 Epilogue



The more eagle eyed of you may notice this group's name appearing in my playlist over the least couple of months. So who are they? Well they have been in existence since 1989, firstly under the name Dream Wytch, which they changed to the current more attractive moniker in 1991. You need more facts don't you? In additional they come from Virginia, America, the number of members which have passed through their ranks, would give the impression that Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow was a far more stabler proposition. In that time a number of EP's and three full albums, have been issued, all of which have been highly collectable and you would end up paying high prices for. Fortunately this 2009 release on the Cruz Del Sur label is one that you can pick up reasonable priced, for now that is. To give them true consideration I felt it would be best to prepare two reviews, this their latest along with their second album released in 2003, being 'Of Empires Forlorn' which like their debut,' Sorrow Of The Angels' released in 1998, have recently been made available again by Cruz Del Sur on a limited run of 1000 copies, so be quick; I'm already having problems locating the debut. I am definitely a late starter to this group, which bearing in mind a lot of the initial praise for this group first came from the UK. I was first taken with a half page advert in the Terrorizer magazine, (which concentrates on extreme metal) which along with a particular stunning album cover (actually for those culture buffs it is the 'Storm On The Sea Of Galilee' by John Martin (1789-1854), a fitting cover to a excellent collection of songs), but had the headline 'for fans of Black Sabbath, Rush, Queen, and Fates Warning.', sounds interesting. OK, I can't really hear the Queen connection, and this is not Valensia or Valentine by any stretch of the imagination but perhaps it's the downright pretentious factor? Not a criticism, but the group really push themselves musically and displaying the operatics in many of the compositions, which Queen did up to, say 'Day At The Races'. Yes the odd Brian May guitar touch can be found on the opening, but it's not overpowering just another small ingredient.

The Songs

Tie down the hatchets as 'The Furthest Shore' thrusts through the speakers. Powerful guitars, pounding drums but are then overtaken by soaring keyboards, and brought down to earth by some elegant acoustic guitaring, I wish Dream Theater would take note. The strength is maintained by strong vocals, which are rich and powerful. While they ping from one influence to another during the length of the tune, and surprisingly even managed to include parts which are more akin to Boston. But, all you Tom Scholz fanatics don't think this takes us back to 1976, it's only the final 3 minutes of the piece, while the rest is more progressive.

Both the next two of 'To Wander The Void' and 'Living Sepulchre' which incidentally has a guitar riff that is very classical in nature, has a more Candlemass feel, this is not plodding at snail pace, as it has the right consistency not to end up in a stodgy mess. Plenty of liquid has been added by the fine vocals, more on the first than the second of this pair, I might add, which would still find a home on any progressive metal release. This is not a group found dragging chains on the sea bed, more of the darker side of Symphony X.

'Vessel', opens with the quieter moments of Opeth, before rumbling into a steamroller of riffs, but then drops into a melodic verse blessed with an AOR refrain. This really is a dramatic change in the outlook for While Heaven Wept, and one that they can reach due to the inclusion of the Rain Irving on vocals. I would rather for him to continue in this vein rather than the partly one dimensional on sections of 'Living Sepulchre'. However as many of these songs seemed to have been written anywhere between 1993 to 2009 it is unclear what path they are going to take in the future.

The title track has the opening of pipes, keyboards and the sounds of waves rushing in. Out of the dark comes again a strong orchestral feel, which has the golden sounds of shimmering guitar. A full instrumental which really has no need for lyrics and vocals, it's just a pleasure listening to what this group has created.

This continues with the last track being 'Epilogue' and focus on the fact that this is concentrating more on the musicianship of the players and the atmosphere they are distilling rather than a simple verse chorus verse format. The whole concept to me is just blessed with beauty and refined skill. A pleasure to listen to.

In Summary

With the album cover being so eye-catching it could just become the equivalent of high cheek bones to attract you to gain an introduction in the first place, but does it have enough to cement a long term relationship? Yes in fact a proposal of marriage would be on the cards. By adding the vocals of Rain Irving is really like adding another level of fortifications to an already impregnable defence, or maybe it was closing out the most vulnerable parts. They have achieved a higher level of refinement on this album than previous and continue to be a well drilled machine. Who could have thought that Doom metal could be so revitalising and rewarding?
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englandashes April 18 2010 2293 reads 0 comments Print


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