While Heaven Wept - Suspended At Aphelion
Nuclear Blast
Epic Progressive/Symphonic Metal(with some Doom elements)
7 songs (40:00)
Release year: 2014
Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Joel
Album of the month

While Heaven Wept have been around for over twenty five years, and I personally have been following them since, the outstanding Vast Oceans Lachrymose from 2009 which I discovered here on MetalReviews. That year marked a changed, as the band's founder and guitarist, Tom Phillips stepped aside from being the vocalist and brought in Rain Irving on lead vocals. For a band that started as truly a Doom Metal band(Check out classics, Like Of Empires Forlorn, or even older, try Thus With A Kiss I Die), their sound has shifted to a more symphonic brand of Progressive Metal, that connects with the listener(at least this one), that is equal parts power, ambient, and moving all at the same time. Suspended At Aphelion is a forty plus minute epic broken up into eleven parts(though listed as only seven tracks), with a prologue(Introspectus) and epilogue(Retrospectus) instrumental, at each end of the disc.

After the prologue I mentioned, comes the epic Icarus and I/Ardor clocking in at just over twelve minutes. This song takes its time building up the layers of strings and guitars, before Irving comes in. His voice can go from a crooning baritone to tenor, without much effort. Here the song on Soundcloud, because most of what I can say, still won't have the same effect as listening to this epic piece of progressive metal. The piano driven Heartburst is next, and it reminds of me their last disc, Fear Of Infinity's Unplenitude. With a soft mix of piano and guitars, and Irving's vocals, it is definitely a moving song. This is the farthest thing from metal for five minutes, but that guitar solo, is just EPIC. Melodic and with long note runs, that show that is about the melody of the song, and not how fast their fingers move. One of the heaviest songs on the disc is the instrumental, Indifference Turned Paralysis. The song showcases the band's obvious musical talent. A mix of symphonic and progressive metal, at its finest. The three part, The Memory of Bleeding/Souls In Permafrost/Searching The Stars, starts slow and melodic, with Irving's powerful vocals deservingly getting all the attention. Some well played piano during the songs first few minutes, also adds another layer to this song. The piano gives way to a more symphonic arrangement just after the two minute mark of the song. The frenzied symphonic work from Icarus and I definitely can be heard here as well. The sense of loss and hope can be felt in the next two parts, the soft acoustic guitars of Reminiscence Of Strangers and the background strings, matches a reserved and almost sorrowful tone of Irving's voice. The interlude in the middle may bring listeners back to Dream Theater's opus, Scenes From A Memory, during songs like The Spirit Carries On. As previously mentioned the disc closes out with an epilogue to the story, a short instrumental that brings closure in the same way the disc began.

Some longtime fans, may cry that there is not much doom metal in this release, some may say that this disc, has too many slower songs or parts. I believe this is a disc, best listened to in a single sitting, and hopefully with a decent pair of headphones. My score below may seem higher to some, but I believe this is the best forty minutes this band has ever produced in their twenty five plus year career.
If epic(without being flashy or bombastic), sorrowful yet hopeful sounds good to you, you owe it to yourself to check out this well conceived disc. Also check out the previously mentioned 2009's Vast Oceans Lachrymose, and 2011's Fear Of Infinity. I commend Tom Phillips and company for writing the disc that they wanted to make, trying something new and in the opinion of this reviewer, definitely succeeding. The thing that draws me to this release, like previous releases, the band can attach an emotion to everything they write, from sorrow to hope. Definitely recommended if you love progressive rock/metal, or if you like your music without a defining genre label.

Killing Songs :
ALL
Joel quoted 90 / 100
Alex quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by While Heaven Wept that we have reviewed:
While Heaven Wept - Vast Oceans Lachrymose reviewed by Alex and quoted 89 / 100
While Heaven Wept - Of Empires Forlorn reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
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