While Heaven Wept
Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence (Live at The Hammer of Doom Festival)
posted on 12/2010 By:
This stellar live CD/DVD set from While Heaven Wept has been surprisingly under the radar since its recent release. The band has been evolving from its roots as a (mostly) epic doom act into a well-integrated hybrid of styles, and these days they sound more like an epic doom band covering early Fates Warning. It’s a comparison with limitations, but it should provide a pretty good idea of what’s being offered for the yet-uninitiated. I appreciate things that are accurately named, and Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence neatly sums up the spirit of this package of equal measures of forlorn tones and rousing epic metal.
Back in early 2010, While Heaven Wept shared the German stage with the likes of St. Vitus, Asphyx, Ahab, Atlantean Kodex and Lord Vicar at the Hammer of Doom 3 festival, and quite honestly, they nailed it. For a band that doesn’t play a ton of live shows, they were amazingly tight and perfectly captured each of the songs covered on this excellent collection. But the most striking win here is from new frontman Rain Irving, whose inclusion in the band on Vast Oceans Lachrymose (which earned a Metal Review perfect score from Michael Wuensch) not only perfectly complemented the stylistic shift on that record, but truly helped take the band to the next level. Previous vocalist and WHW mastermind Tom Phillips is certainly no slouch—not even close—but passing the mic to Irving has opened new doors for the band and allowed Phillips more of an opportunity to focus on his guitar duties.
Rain cements his status as a top-tier singer with a superb live performance on each of these tunes, and he's equally impressive when matched up with the pitch-perfect harmony vocals of keyboardist Michelle Schrotz. Not only do they knock it out of the park with the tracks from Vast Oceans Lachrymose (the title track, half of “The Furthest Shore,” “Vessel”), they’re equally blistering on tracks from the back catalog—Of Empires Forlorn’s title track, “Soulsadness” and “The Drowning Years,” as well as the epic closer, “Thus With a Kiss I Die” from Sorrow of the Angels.
The DVD included in this package adds the scorching Fates Warning tribute “To Wander the Void,” along with an interview, backstage rehearsal footage and two tracks from a club gig. The production on most of the bonus content ain’t what I’d hoped, but it’s just icing on the cake, really, as the main event here is absolutely first-class
I should mention that in addition to the CD/DVD version from the always excellent Cruz del Sur, there’s also a double vinyl version available from the equally top-notch High Roller. Lastly, While Heaven Wept has sadly left the cozy confines of Cruz del Sur for a spot on the Nuclear Blast roster, but hopefully this move will bring the band's releases to a few more hands around the globe, as these guys definitely deserve worldwide attention.
It’s rare that a live album shows up on your short list of “to buy” records, but this one demands a spot. If you weren’t a believer before, you will be after hearing Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence.
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Vast Oceans Lachrymose
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Of Empires Forlorn