WHILE HEAVEN WEPT – Fear Of Infinity
It’s been a long, strange road for Virginia’s While Heaven Wept through the years. The seven piece epic doom band started in 1989, slowly developing its unique sound through a series of demo, 7” and EP releases and over 20 lineup shuffles to get to this point with their new album on their newest label. Main man Tom Phillips informed me that despite its short 37 minute and change length, “Fear Of Infinity” needs a solid three play backs before you can start capturing the ideas and place them into words. I’m fifteen sessions in and still mesmerized, sometimes even finger paralyzed due to the chills these 7 songs give me.
Talk starts with lead voice Rain Irving. To play doom in an epic and progressive fashion, you need a singer capable of tenderness and restraint on one hand, but soaring conviction and emotional magnitude all the same – and one exposure to “Obsessions Now Effigies” and “Saturn And Sacrifice” is all you need to become a believer in his hypnotic-like melodies. Picture John Arch sitting in with Brad Delp and Warrel Dane for a vocal comparison. The harmonies keyboardist Michelle Schrotz provides on “To Grieve Forever” give this somber arrangement just that much more gut-wrenching depth and hammer home the beauty within despair.
Musically “Fear Of Infinity” appears to be split into two distinct parts. The first four songs are compact in their impact (between “Destroyer Of Solace” at 2:40 and the aforementioned “Obsessions…” at a comfortable 4:37) while the final three explore While Heaven Wept’s longer, more musically progressive textures, ending with the 11 minute plus closer “Finality”. Semi-blast beats punctuate the energetic opener “Hour Of Reprisal” while the keyboards and guitars form an evil, funeral-like riff procession. The rhythm section of bassist Jim Hunter (also in Twisted Tower Dire) and drummer Trevor Schrotz aren’t relegated to playing at snail pace tempos- listen to some of their adventurous cat and mouse speed to slow and back excitement during “Saturn And Sacrifice”. My favorite song would be “Finality”, as some of the clean guitar lines wouldn’t sound out of place on the early Fates Warning meets Solitude Aeturnus radar, the transitions and buildups just reaching a dynamic crescendo you can’t get with all the computer enhanced symphonic metal bands coming down the pike.
Now is the time for those who didn’t know about this band to investigate and purchase “Fear Of Infinity”. It separates the music aficionado from background noise. While Heaven Wept in a just world would be touring the globe playing to packed arenas – and yet I sense that their appreciation and influence on the scene will come from a smaller, tighter community who live and breathe for change.
It doesn’t matter. “Fear Of Infinity” changes my outlook on life.