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Majestic - 100%

Sargon_The_Terrible, September 28th, 2009

As you might guess, While Heaven Wept play doom. This is very heavy and melodic metal that oozes class from every riff. Unlike a lot of so-called doom bands, WHW do not play boring, slow riffs and call it doomy. True, most of this is slow or midpaced, but "Of Empires Forlorn" offers up plenty of time shifts and different parts to the songs to keep things interesting. These are long songs with majestic, sweeping melodies and ultra-heavy riffs, all of it topped off by the clear, strong vocals of Tom Phillips. Lots of use is made of vocal harmonies to lend a choral quality to the vocal parts, and keyboards and strings add just the right epic feel to the already superb music.

I have never been that great a fan of the ultra-depressive school of gloomy lyrics, and these are, without exception, bleak and mournful lyrics. They are very well-written, but not really my thing. The vocal melodies are not the bland moping one would expect, but rather sorrowful and soaring at the same time. Album standouts "The Drowning Years" and "Soulsadness" overwhelm with grandiose playing and catchy melodies that stick after only a single listen. The cover of "Epistle No. 81" shows their hearts are in the right place, but I wish they had done more with it, as it’s a little too close to the Candlemass version, if a bit faster. I would have expected them to either slooooowww it down or try a more orchestral approach.

The digipack (arrrgh! Accursed digipack!) has a beautiful cover by Gustav Dore and excellent art design worthy of a Dark Symphonies release (even though it isn’t). The lyrics are included, as are very extensive ‘thank you’ lists and a short rant about Peaceville and their false doom-wankers. Haha! sadly, the Rage of Achilles re release does not feature the splendid closer "From Empires To Oceans" which is an entirely atmospheric synth piece, but it finishes this album with just the right touch of class.

Despite the gloomy vibe, which usually is not my thing at all, I cannot get enough of this CD nor say too many good things about it. While Heaven Wept have produced a first-rate album in a genre that is tragically underpopulated with quality bands. If you favor doom metal or melodic metal in general get your hands on this album, as it’s about as good as you can get.

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