Where She Wept - _The Deer Will Hunt_
(Independent, 2006)
by: Colleen Burton (6 out of 10)
Where She Wept is far and away the best gothic / doom act operating in the cultureless depths of Western New York at the moment; their European take on darker forms of metal leading to them opening for acts such as Type O Negative. Probably best classified as gothic metal, this band fuses a melancholic musical approach with Tom's extreme vocals, although at this stage in their career these are no longer tempered with an operatic female voice. They perceptibly borrow heavily from the doom characteristics of acts like Anathema along the way, however. The band describes itself as struggling for the integrity of those who use music to build atmosphere and create emotion rather than carefully constructing hooks and choruses, and that sentiment is helpful towards understanding their style. For example, a respect and emulation for the dramatic symphonies of Candlemass and irreligious pioneers of Bathory is overt.

Their second full-length _The Deer Will Hunt_ incorporates re-recorded tracks from their second EP, "Dark Beauty and Desire" and "The Fire Before Me". "The Promise and the Breath" is the third installment in their "Wooden Bird" trilogy, also from EPs.

"The Promise and the Breath" immediately showcases their propensity towards harmonic openings and Gregorian choirs, but stentorian guitars and cymbals drive behind Tom's voice before the keys introduce a sweeping, haunting atmosphere. Backing vocals are a low, male droning storyteller to contrast with the death vocals. The use of light drums is great for background effect as the guitars switch up their forceful riffs with sudden tempo changes, rather like The Gathering. It is perhaps a bit long for its own good, but blast beats and uplifting guitar work draw "The Promise and the Breath" to a symphonic finale with a Swallow the Sun effort to envelop the listener in a melancholic world.

"Dark Beauty and Desire" is exemplary of doom, a down tempo drone. Tom utilizes My Dying Bride vocals with a bit of Novembers Doom growling to moan his song alongside the bass, which is slow and simple yet instrumental in conveying an evil and depressing environment. Again, they may lose the listener's attention, but manage to insert a faster part before chugging away again at the first part of the song. There are less intense vocals than what would be heard with Mourning Beloveth, as a comparison, and Where She Wept has a greater focus on drum and uptempo sections.

"The Fire Before Me" brings some headbanging into the mix; the verses are unremarkable musically, but the intro/chorus melds the song into a cohesive whole with its speedier guitars. When the cleaner lead guitar breaks through uninterrupted at various times, it is redolent of Enslaved riffing in an atmospheric context. Deriving power from simplicity, Shelly's sonorous synth laments punctuate the sinister black metal approach and Tom's pained shrieks.

"The Deer Will Hunt" strays into the realm of folk with a heathen tale of hunting, winter, love and death. Slow to begin with Tom's croaks and extremely slow playing, it is somehow captivating for a more relaxed listening experience. The piano receives some spotlight, but this track is unexceptional apart from Where She Wept's typical, crafty revisitation of riffs to push out and unify the longer songs.

"Where He Can't See" offers the most romantic melodies and provocative lyrics concerning the revocation of God and turning from Christianity, but the little girl who speaks behind the lilt of guitars and soft chorus of voices is not as effectively eerie as is likely the intent. However, it is by far the shortest track and not a bad outro, as far as they go.

The production of _The Deer Will Hunt_ seems quite good, considering the crystal clarity of each separate instrument, particularly since Paul's drums are driving without being overbearing. They might be better off with more terse tracks so their songs don't drag, but much to their credit, those less accustomed to doom will not be overwhelmed by this sort of release and can easily latch on to more accessible parts, yet the doom heads will likely be most interested in this prospect.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/whereshewept

(article published 31/1/2009)


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