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Anguish & Despair - 94%

OathRitual, January 14th, 2009

I’ve heard people numerous times calling while Heaven Wept fake doom metal. I believe people get the misconception that all doom has to be slow, drawn out, with crushing riffs and crushing vocal ballads. This simply isn’t true. While Heaven Wept play a different brand of doom – not one you’d find rampant in America, nor really in Europe. It’s safe to say when comparing band to band, WHW really stand alone, towering over the herd with torch in hand.

Earlier WHW is very similar to Of Empires Forlorn, only OEF carries a more symphonic and electronic-oriented approach. “The Drowning Years” starts off with the famous WHW intro using ocean sounds instead of rain this time, accompanied by a slow approach into the song. Tom Phillips vocally is one of the best in doom metal – his high-pitched vocals are completely beautiful and clean, while his occasional growl accompanies their slower and down-tuned riffing very well. “The Drowning Years” has an almost upbeat and occasionally optimistic sound; however when reading the lyrics you can tell it’s about a man losing the love of his life (a common theme for WHW) and, in retrospect, grieving for what he has lost.

Tom Phillips is so powerful vocally the instrumental part of WHW is almost just to accompany his vocals, and to guide them in a more melodic and sweet sounding delivery. The occasional “chugga-chugga” riffs I mentioned are used seldom, and only in company with Phillip’s growls and harsher vocals – the song “Of Empires Forlorn” being one of them. The next mentionable song is “Voice in the Wind” which I believe is a cover, but I couldn’t tell you who the original artist was. The intro to the songs starts off very ‘80s, and introduces a synth pop correlation mixed with echoing snare hits that eventually leads into the high-pitched, almost satirical vocals. There’s faint but consistent keyboard notes coming into the mix that make the song what it is: an almost complete retrospect into a ‘80s love ballad.

Every song is great in its own way and really stomps on the stereotypes doom metal may have. “Sorrow of the Angels” is an interesting addition to the album, as it was previously released on their Sorrow of the Angles full-length. This is the song where you can truly sense the vocal changes Phillip’s has adjusted to – on earlier releases, Phillip’s used a more somber, flat, and desolate approach, whereas he is now using a brighter yet equally somber vocal melody to bring the true anguish out. The lyrics make the song, as they’re all just as hopeless and unfaithful as the rest, yet the vocals are high-pitched, more annunciated and much clearer in the production. The guitars often are twangy, some-what clean, and very melodic in a lot of senses – the bass often times ia audible, but in a few numbers you can occasionally hear it.

Basically, this is album is pure doom metal with a few added in extras. There are strong symphonic touches, some ‘80s synth pop influences, and some up-tempo licks that really defy the “true’ definition of doom metal. WHW are just as doom as any other band, only they bring more to the table. Rebuttal