While Heaven Wept
Ep•ic Pronunciation: 'e-pik
Etymology: Latin epicus, from Greek epikos, from epos word, speech, poem -- more at VOICE
Date: 1589. 1: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an epic. 2 a: extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope b: HEROIC. An epic may deal with such various subjects as myths, heroic legends, histories, edifying religious tales, animal stories, or philosophical or moral theories.
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English dOm; akin to Old High German tuom condition, state, Old English dOn to do
Date: before 12th century
1: a law or ordinance especially in Anglo-Saxon England
2 a: JUDGMENT, DECISION; especially: a judicial condemnation or sentence b (1): JUDGMENT 3a (2): JUDGMENT DAY 1
3 a: DESTINY; especially: unhappy destiny b : DEATH, RUIN
Synonym see FATE
Date: 1974: energetic and highly amplified electronic rock music having a hard beat
As much as I d like to leave my review at that, I feel I should at least expand on this fine, fine album. I should first preface this with the fact, I never really got into “classic” doom as such (Candlemass, Trouble, Solitude Aeternus, etc), preferring the rumbling girth of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. However, I do have in my CD collection one sore thumb of an album that I am proud of; Solstice “New Dark Age”. I didn’t think I’d ever find a band as good, that epic, that emotional-all with clean vocals. Well erstwhile readers I give you While Heaven Wept, new to me but with a considerable underground discography, "Of Empires Forlorn” is the utter epitome of epic, classic doom metal; soaring vocals cast over behemoth riffs, layered with harmonious and delicate synths. And while I am enamored with more guttural acts like Pantheist and Mourning Beloveth, “Of Empires Forlorn” has moved me with the same amount of oppressive sonic weight, albeit tinged with a ray of uplifting hope.
While still not a huge fan of the essentially power metal vocals, the music on display here is often jaw droppingly good, both in scope and delivery, and the vocals actually suit the epic riffs perfectly. Between each song, there is an ocean themed sample that adds to the ambience of the album, but also made my bladder freakishly weak. That added nuance just really adds to the album's aura that makes you close your eyes, and just kind of ebb along with the blissful heaviness as it washes you away. As to be expected the songs are all lengthy exercises in metal poetry, with only the cover of Candlemass’s “Epistle #81” (I would have only known it is a cover by looking at the credits, as it blends seamlessly with the other songs) clocks in less than 4 minutes.
After prolonged listening, While Heaven Wept are master craftsmen of the genre, and to me personally as a metal fan, that’s their only real downfall. While certainly appreciating rending tracks like the opener, “The Drowning Years”, and the rending “SoulSadness”, or even the almost tear inducing, instrumental album closer “From Empires to Oceans” (essentially an acoustic rendition of the superb title track), this still is an album I don’t see my self coming back to that often despite its brilliance. Maybe my phobia of clean vocals is the culprit, as to me the songs play like a collection of down tuned power metal ballads. And for some reason, Manowar’s slower, epic songs (“The Crown and the Ring”, “The Bridge of Death”) kept coming to mind. So when a slight more harsh vocal delivery surfaces during the massive title track, I got tingly for a brief moment, it’s that perfect musically.
A truly moving album that shows While Heaven Wept are to be considered the epoch of their genre, especially for US bands. But even though my scores reflect my objective view and recognition of the obvious mastery on display, I must warn listeners expecting monstrous funeral doom that this plays more like traditional heavy metal/classic doom laced with agonizing beauty and solace.