While Heaven Wept - Vast Oceans Lachrymose

While Heaven Wept received critical acclaim for their previous album "Of Empires Forlorn" no one at the time knew we would have to wait so long for a new album. Its been 6 long years between albums so my curiosity was anticipation for this album was on a high. The band's musical comes mostly from Tom Philips, the composer, guitarist, keyboardist and now just a sometimes vocalist and he has excelled himself with this album which is of a "pure epic" nature. A change has been made since the last album with a new singer, Rain Irving from Altura who released a progressive metal album entitled 'Mercy' back in 1996. Thankfully Irving is the only major change in the band's sound but this album sees the band adding more progressive rock touches than ever before. Irving's vocals have also added a lot more emotion to the band's sound than ever before but its still all about the instrumentation with While Heaven Wept and this album you can hear the band have new standards for themselves, both in playing and songwriting. Musical terms mean next to nothing with a band like this, from epic doom metal, old school power metal, progressive metal to symphonic black metal, While Heaven Wept has it all covered all on one album. The epic statement the band makes with the album opener "The Furthest Shore" is not only a a mammoth one but is their most classic bit of work yet. Its a 15 minute musical journey so vast, i could almost do a long review of this track alone. Soon as you hear the first riffs and guitar melodies, you know what band you are listening to, all of the band's trademarks are there especially the keyboards and acoustic guitar melody that makes a appearance early on in the track. By this time you are confronted by the new vocalist and it becomes obivious he is good match for the pounding riffage but also just as important, he keeps those classic While Heaven Wept vocal melodies alive. Great keyboard and guitar leads follow after the second chorus, then there is a section of Power metal meets progressive rock riffs before some vocal gymnastics from Irving. There is a brief interlude section before even more dynamic lead breaks and stunning keyboard work. There is more acoustic work before the doom riffing makes another appearance sounding heavier than it did before. The highlight of the track is the last 3 to 4 minutes which scales new heights of majestic epic metal, i loved this track so much when i first heard it that i was ready to leave the rest of the album for another day, simply a stunning way to open a album.

Things get a little more simple on the second track "To Wander The Void", its easily the most straight forward song on the album but still delivers some technical but catchy guitar breaks and the vocals are delivered with pure passion. While this is a strong track, it seems like a let down after the epic opener. The song does have some remarkable melodies towards the ending of the song that bring back memories of classic power metal from the 80's. Funny how "To Wander The Void" seems so short even though its still over 6 minutes long, again that epic opener is still in your head. At this point you might be thinking "The Furthest Shore" should have been the album closer instead of the opening cut. "Living Sepulchre" follows with a slight euro black metal sound to start with before a acoustic guitar part comes in and more dramatic lead guitar melodies follow that. This track leads nicely into "Vessel" which is a song all epic doom band's dream about writing, it has a half-time chorus that gets stuck inside your head even when listening to other tracks on the album. The title track is up next and is nothing short of fine rock art, the fine piano work is pure class and it tells a story without relying on vocals at all, same goes for the final track "Epilogue" which closes the album in fine style. If one band can speak to you through music alone, its these dudes from Virginia.

Along with Solitude Aeturnus, While Heaven Wept are the premier epic doom in the US, no doubt about it. But what sets them apart from the Solitude Aeturnus guys is the finely tuned progressive rock elements, from Pink Floyd to Rush influences, they managed to blend it with classic epic doom to make something full of passion and musical integrity. "Vast Oceans Lachrymose" is nothing short of amazing, an album that is powerful, emotional, filled with sorrow but still sounding like down to earth music. If there is a weak point, its seems a little un-balanced due to the fact the opening track is so epic compared with the rest but what i do is play the first track last. This is still as close to perfect as any album can be for this sub-genre of doom.

1. The Furthest Shore
2. To Wander The Void
3. Living Sepulchre
4. Vessel
5. Vast Oceans Lachrymose
6. Epilogue

Cruz Del Sur Music
Reviewer: Ed
Jan 14, 2010

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