WHILE HEAVEN WEPT – Suspended At Aphelion
It’s refreshing to find a record label willing to support all creative endeavors that come forth during the lifetime of a group. Let’s face it- we as humans grow and expand as life experience, environment, and influences change us. Remain static to this and you might as well wither away and die. What does this have to do with the band While Heaven Wept you ask? Well, founder / guitarist/ main songwriter Tom Phillips has written enough material for a couple of albums at this point in their career, and he pondered whether to put out the ‘epic, almost progressive rock’ effort first or the heavier, more expected WHW record. In the end, he chose the former in this 11 track, 39 minute aural odyssey – and as such it’s a very bold, brilliant undertaking that may alienate some but be embraced fully to those who truly engage in bands and music beyond background chatter or a passive form of entertainment.
The album is split between full on songs such as the majestic 7 minute "Icarus and I" (bringing to mind their chill bump "Vast Oceans Lachrymose" album period with some extreme vocal nuances) and quieter, piano driven "Heartburst" and a second half of material that careens through different dynamic platforms in shorter, 1:42-2:39 timeframes save for the almost 4 minute, progressively militant "Souls in Permafrost". Again the superior epic melodies gain the best attention due to Rain Irving’s wide, multi-octave capabilities, fleshed out with the background support from Tom, keyboardist Michelle Loose-Schrotz and bassist Jim Hunter. Guitarist Scott Loose provides another sonic layer, as the band know that amidst all of the musical action you need to maintain some semblance of melody, of hooks, or everything can go off the rails and only gain a faction, musician-oriented appeal.
This is not Opeth going progressive rock – this is While Heaven Wept through and through, exploring an epic framework and maintaining enough versatility to leave you on the edge of your seat for 39 minutes. The guitar harmonies throughout the more Pink Floyd-like "Reminiscence of Strangers", and the forlorn classical touches for the ending "Retrospectus" – I return to "Suspended At Aphelion" in the happiest and darkest times of my life, and that’s the ideal lifelong experience I want with the best records. I await the next WHW offering eagerly.