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Review: While Heaven Wept - Of Empires Forlorn
While Heaven Wept
Of Empires Forlorn

Label: Eibon Records
Year released: 2003
Duration: 42:50
Tracks: 7
Genre: Doom Metal


Review online: July 3, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.98/5 (79.57%) (47 Votes)

Suddenly I’m getting a bunch of cool stuff from American bands: Agent Steel, Cage, Usurper, and now While Heaven Wept. It’s enough to give me hope for my country. This is the umpteenth release from this band, but most of these were demos that are impossible to get. They did have one real album released years ago, the now-legendary "Sorrow of the Angels" CD from 1998, but for me this was my first taste of this extremely underground band.

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!

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.

More about While Heaven Wept...
Review: Fear of Infinity (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Fear of Infinity (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Lovesongs of the Forsaken (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Of Empires Forlorn (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Of Empires Forlorn (reviewed by Scott Murray)
Review: Suspended at Aphelion (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Vast Oceans Lachrymose (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Tom Philips on July 3, 2003 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Tom Phillips on October 28, 2009 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Tom Phillips (guitar) on April 30, 2011 (Interviewed by MetalMike)
Interview with guitarist and songwriter Tom Phillips on December 13, 2014 (Interviewed by MetalMike)
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