While Heaven Wept - Vast Oceans Lachrymose
Cruz Del Sur Music
Progressive Epic Doom
6 songs (42'17")
Release year: 2009
Cruz Del Sur Music
Reviewed by Alex

I don’t have the foggiest clue why While Heaven Wept takes so long in between their album releases. Perhaps it could have something to do with the oft-changing lineup. Members of While Heaven Wept, many of them reputable stars of Virginia heavy metal scene, double in Twisted Tower Dire, October 31 and Brave among others. Or, perhaps, the main man Tom Phillips can’t stand it to simply release some stale rehashed material, and to really push the boundaries every and each album it simply takes time.

Whatever the reason is While Heaven Wept did not waste their hiatus after one of my strong favorites of 2003 Of Empires Forlorn. Vast Oceans Lachrymose, the latest gem, showcases the band diversifying significantly, expanding well beyond the standard doom parameters in the areas both progressive and traditional.

The album certainly does not lack in the heaviness department. Living Sepulchre, done in the true classic fashion, leads off with Iron Maiden mid-pace gallop and accelerates to reach a periodic double bass crescendo. While Heaven Wept makes a great use of NWOBHM harmonies throughout Vast Oceans Lachrymose, one can hear practically early Jag Panzer before more oomph is added midway through To Wander the Void.

At the same time, with their passionate penetrating melodies and from the heart lyrics While Heaven Wept can make their epic progressive power doom personable, and that is the most important thing. Surely, the double bass/staccato patterns of the opener The Furthest Shore are complex, but it is this song’s triumphant spirit which beckons the most. The song unfolds as a life story. First, in the opening heavier part, one sets out to beat the odds of life. Later, when the will erodes and realization of hopelessness sets in, the music grows soft and tender. At first, I even heard the religious references and the Mass celebration overtones in The Furthest Shore unctuous melodies. However, upon reading the lyrics, I learned that religion had nothing to do with it and was even more impressed how While Heaven Wept managed to celebrate the trials of one lonesome person in the sea of world.

The band touches on this feeling several times throughout Vast Oceans Lachrymose. Demarkated from Living Sepulchre by an acoustic segment, Vessel builds up, only to ultimately dissolve, the soul coming to rest into the cathedral style chorus, euphoria floating by the bucket. A closing pair of the title track and Epilogue visits the ocean theme one more time (just like The Furthest Shore and earlier in Of Empires Forlorn). The title track does one hell of a Hosanna instrumental, with Epilogue bringing the proceedings to a logical close, with the funeral pyre sailing at peace to sea, like it was done among ancient Norsemen.

My understanding is that Rain Irving took over the lead vocals for Vast Oceans Lachrymose and his from-the-heaven high floating voice is a great fit for both the epic and ethereal angles this album presents. Whatever side of metal you were looking for, progressive melodic a la early Fates Warning, classic US Maryland/Virginia doom, or some epic power NWOBHM – you will find it here. Vast Oceans Lachrymose delivers an album from the band unencumbered with genre definitions, comfortable with who they are, playing from the depth of their soul.

Killing Songs :
The Furthest Shore, Living Sepulchre, Vessel
Alex quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by While Heaven Wept that we have reviewed:
While Heaven Wept - Suspended At Aphelion reviewed by Joel and quoted 90 / 100
While Heaven Wept - Of Empires Forlorn reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
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