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Review: While Heaven Wept - Vast Oceans Lachrymose
While Heaven Wept
Vast Oceans Lachrymose

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
Year released: 2009
Duration: 42:17
Tracks: 6
Genre: Doom Metal


Review online: November 6, 2009
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
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Rated 4.3/5 (86.08%) (79 Votes)

I have had this one for maybe a month now, spinning it over and over, but I waited to review it for two reasons. One: Tom assured me that the promo version was not the final mix, and I wanted to hear the real album; and Two: this is a big, dense, rich album that takes a lot of time to really absorb. I have been waiting for six years for While Heaven Wept to follow up their massive Of Empires Forlorn, and I confess there were times I almost thought I'd never see this album. But after all the waiting, Vast Oceans Lachrymose proves to be almost nothing like what I expected, and more than I could have hoped for.

I call this Doom metal, because there is still a powerful Doom element to their sound, and the lyrics are still very much in the Doom mold. But this is not even close to the straight Doom of their older works, and nothing like the current flood of Stoner garbage and retro-Sabbath wannabes. While Heaven Wept have followed logically on their previous work while striking out into bold new directions to create a unique and powerful sound. Opener "The Furthest Shore" is like an overture for everything to come, establishing the sounds you will hear. It starts with a pounding rhythm which was very much not what I was expecting. I was looking for a slow build, as on "The Drowning Years", but no, this album gets right to it. No ‘intro', no fooling around. These songs are heavy, melodic, and emotional, highlighted by impressive playing and heartfelt leads that raise the atmosphere to another level. The sound is just big – big in ambition, big in arrangement and intent, spacious and powerful. With an opening song as huge and epic as "The Furthest Shore" you would expect the others to be less exciting, but that is not the case at all. They follow up with the pounding monster of "To Wander The Void", the addictively catchy "Living Sepulchre", the haunting "Vessel"…hell, there's just no bad songs on here, or even any that are not awesome in some way.

A big difference from the last album are the vocals of Altura singer Rain Irving, who takes over the lead spot from Tom Phillips this time out. I was skeptical, as I thought Tom's voice was a highlight of Empires, but Rain has won me over with his powerful, visceral performance. He hits the highs clearly and easily, while maintaining a level of grit and emotion I would not have expected from a prog singer.

Big, heavy, orchestral and involving, Vast Oceans Lachrymose is a massive effort from a really visionary band. I hesitate to use the word ‘progressive', because this album has nothing to do with the kind of music that normally means. This album is progressive in the genuine sense of reaching for a new sound by putting together old sounds in new ways. If all you want from Doom is slow and heavy, then this may not be what you are looking for. But if you want powerful heavy metal music that does not so much break boundaries as ignore them, then do not skip this album. Worth the wait, worth it a hundred times over.

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 Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Of Empires Forlorn (reviewed by Scott Murray)
Review: Suspended at Aphelion (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence (reviewed by MetalMike)
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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