While Heaven Wept - _Vast Oceans Lachrymose_
(Cruz Del Sur Music, 2009)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (8.5 out of 10)
At just three full-lengths in their fifteen years of existence, no one can accuse While Heaven Wept of being prolific; yet their 2003 release _Of Empires Forlorn_ was a very decent stab at Candlemass inspired epic doom metal, punctuated by leader Tom Phillips's distinct vocals and guitar style. Now, five years later sees the band resurface with an expanded line-up and an upgraded sound. Joining Phillips, Scott Loose and Jim Hunter (of Twisted Tower Dire rhythm section) are Trevor Schrotz and Michelle Loose-Schrotz in drums and keys / vocals respectively (both from the relatively obscure gothic metal band Arise From Thorns, later renamed to Brave) and, perhaps most importantly, Rain Irving replaces Tom as the lead vocalist. A rather surprising move, since Tom's vocals are quite unique and suited the music very well. Thankfully, Irving's vocals are equally good (if not better) and carry the songs well.

_Vast Oceans Lachrymose_ starts very strong. "The Furthest Shore" is definitely the best song the band has penned till now. A nearly sixteen minute epic that stands as the epicentre of the album. Heavy chugging guitars surprise at initial listen. This is obviously a much heavier and much better and more clearly produced album than its predecessor. Irving's voice have a slightly progressive / power metal aura, but is indeed incredibly good and suitable to the music here. This is undeniably a While Heaven Wept album, yet shows a more mature band, in both instrumental skill and composition.

"To Wander the Void" is harsher than the opening track, heavier and hard hitting, with a great solo at the four minute mark -- and there is no time for catching your breath, as "Living Sepulchre" that follows continues the epic doom pummelling (I must coin a term for this). So far in the album, in fact, it is the genuine viciousness of the guitars and drums that surprised me the most, since _Of Empires Forlorn_ was rather tame in comparison.

In contrast to the first three songs, the remaining three are much softer. "Vessel" and "Vast Oceans Lachrymose" tone down the guitars and allow the synths to come out, and both songs are closer in style to the previous album. Closer "Epilogue" is rather redundant in its synth-only calmness, but embraces the album as a whole and I guess fulfills its namesake.

I like While Heaven Wept. There are not many bands that do epic doom well, let alone do it with gusto and skill. I also like the fact that they do not churn out albums every year, as I have come to expect their releases as rare treats, rather than yet another Candlemass inspired knockoff. _Vast Oceans Lachrymose_ is created with love and attention, beautifully molded to fit the creators' vision. I am eagerly looking forward to their next chapter, probably at some time around 2015.

Contact: http://whileheavenwept.com/

(article published 2/14/2010)


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