|Review: While Heaven Wept - Lovesongs of the Forsaken|
|Lovesongs of the Forsaken|
Label: High Roller Records
Year released: 2010
Genre: Doom Metal
Review online: August 29, 2010
Reviewed by: MetalMike
for:Lovesongs of the Forsaken
As anyone familiar with While Heaven Wept knows, to call them "Doom" does not come close to encompassing the vast sweep of their music. Heavy, Epic and Power, at varying times, can also be used to describe what this band brings to the table. And that is, perhaps, their greatest quality; the ability to seamlessly blend styles into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
My first exposure to While Heaven Wept was via the outstanding Vast Oceans Lachrymose. As a latecomer to the party, I was pretty excited to hear their early material, released on vinyl via High Roller Records. Comprised of the same three songs repeated on both sides, Lovesongs of the Forsaken is more of an EP than an album, but who am I to split hairs. Side A contains the three songs from the band's 1995 debut EP, while the B side contains mixes of those same songs but from a much earlier, cassette-only release the band gave out to fans in their home state of Virginia.
I knew I had to keep an open mind going into this album since I was going back almost 20 years into While Heaven Wept's past. Original singer/founder (and still guitarist/keyboardist) Tom Phillips handled all the vocals up to the addition of Rain Irving for Vast Oceans Lachrymose, and he has quite a different voice. His simple, clear singing is mixed way down on Lovesong of the Forsakens, but still manages to convey mournfulness and sorrow very effectively. The first song, "In Aeturnum," is stylistically similar to the material on Vast Oceans Lachrymose. The band mixes faster riffs with the slower pace usually associated with Doom to create the sonic equivalent of being in the middle of a tempest with the elements swirling around and darkness pressing down like a monumental weight upon your shoulders. They even whip up a bit of frenzy with a few quick bars of high speed riffing and drums. All three tracks run together but the next two, "La Mort D'Amour" and "Sorrow of the Angels" sound similar enough to be two parts of the same song. Slow, spare instrumentation and Phillips melancholy voice creates a mood of sadness that you might imagine to be felt by survivors of a natural disaster picking through the remains of their formers lives. I couldn't help being reminded of Agalloch songs like "The Lodge" when listening to these two songs.
The only difference between the two sides that these untrained ears hear is that side B is a bit "brighter" sounding that side A, otherwise they are quite similar. Doom is not my favorite style, and I found some of Lovesongs of the Forsaken to be a bit monotonous at times. However, the ability of Tom Phillips and band to create dark and sorrowful atmospheres is unparalleled. Gifted is a term that falls completely short when describing While Heaven Wept's songwriting abilities. For fans of While Heaven Wept, Lovesongs of the Forsaken is an absolute must have, as Phillips has vowed this to be the last time either version of these songs will ever be available. For everyone else, even if Doom isn't your thing, this is what great songwriting sounds like.
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Interview with guitarist and songwriter Tom Phillips on December 13, 2014 (Interviewed 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)
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